Luigino Bruni Vita 250Luigino Bruni

"Nothing has more value than an act of gratuitousness"

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Go to my Biblical series:  

Greater than GuiltThe Dawn of Midnight Listening to life - Nacked Questions - A Man named Job - The Midwifes of Egypt

Go to my other series: 

Narrative Capitals - On the border and beyond - The Voices of the Days - Regenerations - The Great Transition

Peace is the Intelligence of Mothers

Greater Than Guilt/25 - Every fratricide story is, unfortunately, real

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 08/07/2018

Piu grandi della colpa 25 rid“Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, stop this warful strife, or Jove will be angry with you.” Thus spoke Minerva, and Ulysses obeyed her gladly.

Homer, Odyssey; Conclusion (English translation by Samuel Butler)

When we go through deep and complex crises, meeting with someone who shows us another perspective can be a decisive event. Someone who makes us climb a hill to look up from above at our besieged city, and from there discover escape routes that we could not see when we were still immersed in fighting. In the Bible those who offer these different perspectives are mainly prophets and women. There is, in fact, an analogy between prophecy and female genius. Both are concrete, they activate processes, they speak with words and the body and by an invincible instinct they always choose life and believe in it and celebrate it to the last breath. Prophets and mothers host and generate a living word that they do not control; they offer their body to it so that the word-son becomes flesh, without becoming its masters.

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The Infinite Heart of Women

Greater than Guilt/24 - Real love does not resort to violence but stays around

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 01/07/2018

Piu grandi della colpa 24 crop rid“Verily, a polluted stream is man.  One must be a sea, to receive a polluted stream without becoming impure.”

Friedrich Nietzsche Thus Spake Zarathustra (English translation by Thomas Common)

It isn’t only a genetic and then an economic heritage that we leave to our children. Our virtues and sins also become their inheritance. They are transmitted through our children’s eyes, with which they first look at us and then imitate us - a son of smokers is twice as likely to become a smoker than a son of non-smokers. Our relational lifestyle, the virtues and vices of our family, our generosity and avarice form a cultural and moral DNA that we pass on to our children, almost always without the benefit of inventory. And even when they manage to become better than our sins (and, thank God, sometimes they do), our ethical heritage always and very much conditions them. When we decide to give in to the temptations that await us readily at the crossroads of life, we are accumulating the first dowry that we will leave to our children and to the world of tomorrow.

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The Register of Invisible Pain

Greater than Guilt/23 - Human History is Not God’s Toy

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 24/06/2018

Piu grandi della colpa 23 rid“ we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips.”

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

To be innocent it is not enough not to be seen. The great ancient civilizations generated their laws and ethical norms under the gaze of their highest eyes. Today, enchanted by the ethics of the contract, we have given up this gaze "from above", replacing it with millions of eyes that continuously control and spy on us "from below". But when we introduce non-human eyes that are lower than ours into our world, they are either the eyes of idols or those of our artefacts, which do not know how to show us the angels and paradise. That higher and different gaze said, among other things, that the evil and sins we commit do operate even when they remain secret.

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The Letter Not to Be Read

Greater than Guilt/22 - Faces to be recognized and providential ignorance

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 17/06/2018

Piu grandi della colpa 22 rid“Emma let the paper fall. Her first sentiment was indisposition in her stomach and knees; then she felt blind guilt, unreality, cold, fear; then she wanted it to be the next day already. She understood right afterward that this wish was useless because her father’s death was the only thing that had happened in the world and that would keep happening without end.”

J.L. Borges Emma Zunz (English translation by Hadi Deeb)

The name of the other is always a plural and symphonic word. To recognize a person, therefore, we must see and welcome their rich multiplicity. The first injury inflicted on the victim is the denial of at least one face of their personality. We see Myriam arriving from the sea with a veil on her head and we call her "Muslim". We do not see that she has a boyfriend, that she is a nurse, that she is a vegetarian, a pacifist, that she paints in her free time and loves poetry. Thus we begin to dishonour her dignity; we do not get to know her because we do not recognize her. Then we see Giovanna wearing a different veil, and we call her a "nun". We don’t care that she is a Bible scholar and that before entering the convent she was a professor of history, or that she plays the piano very well and is the president of an NGO. And so we only see the nun and stop her from telling us that she is also a woman. Every time a person is reduced to a single dimension we are entering into a story of violence.

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Christians, that is, men and women, brothers and sisters

Greater than Guilt/21 - No rhetoric stands: every war is fratricide

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 10/06/2018

Piu grandi della colpa 21 rid“Rabbi Pinhas said: ‘Whoever says that the words of the Torah are one thing and the words of the world another, must be regarded as a man who denies God’”.

Martin Buber Tales of the Hasidim (English translation by Olga Marx)

When I was a boy, in my village to say a human person, we said “cristiano” (actually: cristià in the Ascoli dialect), that is, Christian. For a long time I thought that "Christians" was the name of human beings. I didn't feel it was a religious word, and most of my people used it without knowing that this very common term came from religion. Christians were men, Christians were women.

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The Wonderful Laicity of God

Greater than Guilt/20 - Biblical humanism is an endless education for liberty

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 03/06/2018

Piu grandi della colpa 20 rid“If your heart does not wish to give in If it feels no passion, if it does not want to suffer Without making plans about what will follow My heart can love for the both of us”

Luisa Sobral, Amar pelos dois (English version by Igor Caldeira)

When we try to respond to a vocation, our existence moves between the memory of a great liberation and the waiting for the fulfilment of a great promise, between memory and hope. Everything takes place between these two banks of the river, and the great task of living is to learn to stay in the ford, without succumbing to the temptation of nostalgia for the bank from which we come or to the one telling us that the landing place was only a mirage. You don’t get overwhelmed by the water and dragged away by the current until you cling to the invisible rope that binds the Red Sea to the Jordan. Also because the closer we get to the other shore, the thinner the piece of string we are holding on to becomes in our hand.

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The Different Decorum of Women

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 27/05/2018

Piu grandi della colpa 19 rid“It was by the grace of God, not on account of his merits, that Noah found shelter in the ark before the overwhelming force of the waters. Although he was better than his contemporaries, he was yet not worthy of having wonders done for his sake.”

Louis Ginzberg The Legends of the Jews (English translation by Henrietta Szold)

It was religion that invented the homo oeconomicus, long before economy reinvented it. The first trading partner for people was God, because the economy in the markets was an extension of the economy in the religious sphere. The first currency that humanity knew was goats, sheep, lambs, sometimes even children and virgins, with whom men paid their gods, usually to put them in debt or, sometimes, to reduce the original debt they felt were overwhelming their communities.

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Memorial Stones for the Innocent

Greater than Guilt/18 - The executioners humiliate their victims by denying them the dignity of their name

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 20/05/2018

Piu grandi della colpa 18 rid“This I-Thou relation consists of placing oneself before an outside being, i.e. one who is radically other, and in recognizing that being as such. This recognition of alterity does not consist in forming an idea of alterity. (...) It is not a question of thinking the other person, or of thinking him or her as other - but of addressing that person as a Thou.

Emanuel Lévinas Proper Names (English translation by Michael B. Smith)

Dialogue is the thread that weaves our good and fruitful social relationships. Listening and saying, silence and words, phrases and gestures are the grammar of the reciprocal crossing (dia) of the word (logos). Dialogue is letting ourselves be traversed by the other while asking their permission to be traversed by our word. Crossing is a verb of motion that evokes time and space, places, names, flesh; it is always a creation of something new.

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The honour of the rejected

Greater than Guilt/17 - In the end, Saul’s ways are dusty, just like ours

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 13/05/2018

samuele 17 210x300Saul:
“Oh my children!...
I was a father. - See thyself alone,
Oh king; of thy so many friends and servants
Not one remains. - Inexorable God, 
Is thy retributory wrath appeased?”

Vittorio Alfieri, Saul (English translation by Charles Lloyd)

In every authentic reading, the reader has an active and creative part to play. He is not a spectator of the stories he reads, but a co-screenwriter and actor of them. In the special form of reading we call biblical reading, therefore, the one who reads receives the mysterious but real faculty to transform the characters into people, who, like all living people, grow, change, move and make some unexpected encounters. So it happens that biblical people begin to interact among themselves, to compose relational plots that are different from those thought and desired by their first author. And so the necromancer of En-dor becomes a friend of the father of the prodigal son, Jeremiah discovers himself as David's brother, and Saul becomes Job's travel companion in his misfortune, as he also ends up on the pile of manure, by a God who wants (Saul) or allows for (Job) their misfortune. Struck by divine punishment that’s greater than their (possible) sin, Both Saul and Job are wrapped in the silence of a mute God, who has no words of life for them - perhaps because, quite simply, he is waiting for ours.

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The Holy Words of the Rejected

Greater than Guilt/16 - Compassion may explode inside every life. And so may the good

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 06/05/2018

Piu grandi della colpa 16 rid“The Baal Shem said to one of his disciples: »The lowest of the low you can think of, is dearer to me than your only son is to you.«”

Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim (English translation by Olga Marx)

Augurs, magicians and soothsayers are a recurrent note in the Bible. They embody a form of false prophecy that was widespread in antiquity and hard fought by the prophets, which represented a constant and very seductive temptation for Israel (to which it has often succumbed). They were the expression of an archaic popular religiosity that has never disappeared, and feeds a thriving business in our days, too. Biblical faith is not threatened by atheism, but by the replacement of YHWH with natural and simpler gods - yesterday and today, in faith and in life, where the eternal temptation is to convince ourselves that we are something smaller and more banal than the complex and beautiful reality we actually are.

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The Art of Embrace is Infinite

Greater than Guilt/15 - The art of life can be learnt by tasting the small instants of peace

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 29/04/2018

Piu grandi della colpa 15 rid“God is, in a sense, the other, par excellence, the other as other, the absolutely other - and nonetheless my standing with this God depends only on myself. The instrument of forgiveness is in my hands. On the other hand, my neighbor, my brother, infinitely less other than the absolutely other, is in a certain way more other than God: to obtain his forgiveness ... I must succeed in appeasing him. What if he refuses? As soon as two are involved, everything is in danger. The other can refuse forgiveness and leave me forever unpardoned."

Emanuel Levinas, Nine Talmudic Readings (English translation by Annette Aronowicz)

Every day millions of people do and say bad things and, shortly after or shortly before that, they say and do good things in all honesty. Because the human condition is simply the interweaving of evil and goodness. The Bible knows this ambivalent mystery of the person – perhaps the greatest mystery – very well. We can become intrigued or lost, we may lose the golden thread of life, but until our last breath we are still capable of goodness, because we are made in the image and likeness of an endless dance of mutual love, which no sin can stop. Cain killed his brother Abel, but he did not kill the Adam, the first (and last) man. And while Cain continues to kill Abel, the Adam continues, stubbornly, to resurrect him, every day. No wickedness of the fratricide within us is capable of destroying that original imprint of good engraved deeper into our being. In this sense, evil can be trivial, good can never. Evil has its own resilience, which can also be very big, but it is always smaller than the resilience of good. And it is this good that resists stubbornly to make us more beautiful than our many faults. That’s where the radical anthropological optimism of the Bible lies, which has saved the West after and amidst its most heinous sins – and which continues to save us.

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2017 EoC Report

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A Lexicon of Social Well-Being

A Lexicon of social well being ridLuigino Bruni

Palgrave Pivot, April 2015


Luigino Bruni’s articles and video

The Vocabulary of Good Social Life

Logo nuovo lessico rid modThe "words" of the New Vocabulary from the editorials of each Sunday published in Avvenire by Luigino Bruni

Communion - 09/02/2014
- 02/02/2014
- 26/01/2014
- 19/01/2014
- 12/01/2014
- 05/01/2014
- 29/12/2013
- 22/12/2013
 - 15/12/2013
Market - 08/12/2013
Common Goods - 01/12/2013
Cooperation - 24/11/2013
Experience Goods - 17/11/2013
A Critical Point - 10/11/2013
Types of Capital - 03/11/2013
Poverty - 27/10/2013
Relational Goods - 20/10/2013
Goods- 13/10/2013
Wealth - 06/10/2013
A New Vocabulary - 29/09/2013

The Wound and the Blessing

Wound blessingLuigino Bruni

Economics, Relationships, and Happiness

New City Press, 2012


United Nations Video

This short video was shot in occasion of the EoC presentation in the February 2012 UN Conference on Poverty Eradication.


Video - EoC in 5 words

video Eoc 5 words mod

Presentation by Luigino Bruni to the Faculty of the Ateneo De Manila University. Manila, Philippines, September 23, 2011

Guidelines for conducting an EoC business

Binari_rid_modThe Economy of Communion proposes the following "Guidelines for conducting a business", to productive organizations who adhere to its message and its culture, written in the light of the life and thought of thousands of entrepreneurs and workers....

The Genesis and Ethos of the Market

The Genesis and Ethos of the market ridLuigino Bruni

Palgrave Macmillan, September 2012


The economy of giving

Chiara_Lubich_1Chiara Lubich

«Unlike the consumerist economy, based on a culture of having, the economy of communion is the economy of giving.... 

Avvenire Editorials

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