20 Mar 2019

Holding on With a Light Grip: Paul’s ‘as if not’

I have taught a theological foundations course to mostly college freshman for a few years now. Over the course we read Thomas Aquinas’s Sermon Conference on the Apostles’ Creed. And in his on the suffering and death of Christ, Thomas says that one of the many things we learn from the example of Christ’s passion is how to despise the things of this world. I have observed a certain amount of confusion among the students

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20 Feb 2019

More Than Morbid

April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain.[1]   T. S. Eliot “We are the hollow men / We are the stuffed men,” Eliot begins his 1925 poem, “The Hollow Men.” Not the most positive of notes on which to start. But perhaps therein is its haunting power. Reality has a way of pressing beyond our rather feeble attempts at distracting ourselves.

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23 Jan 2019

The Intellectual Art of Tidying Up

  If I read as many books as most men do, I would be as dull-witted as they are…    -Thomas Hobbes   Since the English translation of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing in 2014, she has become an international superstar. The book has sold over two million copies and has now been translated into more than thirty languages. She even has her own Netflix

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12 Dec 2018

Reformed Catholicity: A Review

Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation, by Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain Importance of the book Michael Allen and Scott Swain have written (and Baker Academic has published) an important book. Let me highlight three reasons for its importance. First, they are seeking to recover and reappropriate what was an essential Protestant polemical claim early on, that Protestants are heirs of the catholic tradition. In a time when being

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14 Nov 2018

Recovering the Beauty of the Christian

The beautiful is that which is pleasing when seen… —Thomas Aquinas As I indicated in my last post, I’ve been thinking about the topic of an apologetic for the Christian faith in light of our time and culture of ugliness (both inside and outside the Church). I suggested that theologians and leaders would do well to place a special emphasis on living beautifully. In this post, I would like to continue that line of thought,

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17 Oct 2018

Recovering the Beauty of the Theologian

The beautiful is that which is pleasing when apprehended… – Thomas Aquinas In 1970, looking out over the world, still picking up the carnage of its two world wars, and looking back over his own life, ravaged by the brutality of the USSR, Alexander Solzhenitsyn mused upon the ‘enigmatic remark’ of Dostoevsky’s idiot: “beauty will save the world.” “What sort of a statement is that?” Solzhenitsyn asks, “when in bloodthirsty history did beauty ever save

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19 Sep 2018

Between Defiance and Despair

I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room. —Blaise Pascal Quietude. Calm. Collected. Consistency. These are not the buzzwords of our culture of revolution. If they make it on to the radar, it is as unwanted intruders. To use one’s voice is a virtue; to remain silent, a vice. To be calm is thought to be apathetic at best,

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22 Aug 2018

Non et Sic: Don’ts and dos of Protestant Aquinas Scholarship

The early twentieth century saw, yet again, a renewed interest in the theology of Thomas Aquinas among Roman Catholics (for an overview of this ressourcement of Thomistic theology see, for example, the Introduction of Nicholas Healy’s book). Protestant scholarship on Aquinas, however, suffered from serious neglect, or worse, serious distortion during the same period. Among many post-nineteenth century Protestants, Thomas, because of his (justifiably) high esteem among Roman Catholics, was seen as one who must

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25 Jul 2018

The Theologian’s Free Association with the Academy

I was recently perusing the latest edition of JAAR (Journal of the American Academy of  Religion, vol. 86 [2]) and was reminded of why I have been, shall I say, pessimistic about the current practice of so-called academic theology. Still, all is not without hope. And this recent article—a cause for such hope in my estimation— has put me in mind to write my own few lines about the subject of theology and the academy.

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27 Jun 2018

Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (Part 2)

In the first part of this two part series on Psalm 46, I suggested that there are three strata of imagery in the psalm. The ‘city of God’ is a lush garden, providing for those inside her walls sustenance and shelter, calm and quiet, against all the wilds of life outside her walls. The city of God is, furthermore, protected against the judgement of God. The purging of evil involves God’s de-creative acts; yet for

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18 May 2018

Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken (Part 1)

In a sermon preached the same year that Augustine began to write his City of God, he told his congregation: “Brethren, when I speak of that City, and especially when scandals grow great here, I just cannot bring myself to stop…” (Enarr. In Ps. 84.10). As in Augustine’s time, so in ours as well scandals increase. Whether they do so more in our own time, I am not one to judge (though I rather doubt

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13 Apr 2018

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God I have always loved the morning. There is something especially moving in the cool fresh air, untainted by the day’s hustle and bustle; there is something so provocative in the dawning of light; there is something reassuring in human quietude and nature’s songs to its Creator. Surely when the psalmists wrote things like: “Oh LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”;

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12 Jul 2016

Augustine, Education, and the Pitfalls of Academia

Over the past three or four years I have had a few, percolating thoughts on theological training and education. Or, more particularly, thoughts on my experiences at various institutions and on my reading of so-called ‘academic’ literature. A couple of months ago I was asked by a professor why I was so cynical about ‘the academy’ and ‘academics’. My reply to him was convoluted enough that I thought I should attempt to write a little

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