And the question which has always been raised, in times of old and still in our day, and always embarrasses us, is ‘what is being?’ – Aristotle I’ve noted previously that our common sense approach to reality leads to a kind of intuition of “being” as that highest of all unities. Everything that is is, as Parmenides put it. Saying it this way, however, is liable to misunderstanding. “Being” is not simply what we come
Perhaps one of the most overlooked passages in Scripture for Christian formation is the story of Creation. We are shaped so much and so obviously by the Fall, and the matrix of serpent-apple-temptation-nakedness resonates with our imaginations in such visceral ways, that it nearly seems genetic. As we consider, however, God’s first acts of creative goodness in Eden, we are invited to look upon a lost world, a world that will never return. That prelude
As a concept, being is both the most universal and the most abstract of all. Its extension is the richest, its comprehension the most poor. – Étienne Gilson It is the same with this object of thought, this primordial reality we call being. We have not looked it in the face. We think it something far simpler than it is. We have not yet troubled to unveil its true countenance. – Jacques Maritain In two
In a previous post I noted that the classical understanding of metaphysics—by which I mean Aristotle and the subsequent and variegated peripatetic tradition—differs significantly from the Modern, analytical understanding. (Of course, such a note is admittedly a generalization which admits of many an exception.) Rather than thinking of metaphysics as a synthesizing and generalizing theory of all the various scientific fields of inquiry about our physical world and the human place and purpose within it,
“Re-enchantment of the world” is one of those phrases that tends to frequently show up within certain aesthetically inclined Christian circles. However, unlike other buzzword-y concepts that often make appearances in conversations along these lines (“human flourishing”?), this one is at least somewhat easier to nail down. Charles Taylor, one of the leading exponents of the theme, wrote in 2008: [T]he boundary between agents and forces is fuzzy in the enchanted world; and the boundary
I have over the past decade or so engaged often with friends who to one degree or another find so-called ‘classical theism’ to be suspect. More often than not, I find myself convinced in these conversations that their suspicions ought to be able to be cleared away with some careful definitions and distinctions. But, then, more often than not, my attempts at definitions and distinctions do not actually clear away their doubts. Why not? It
“Oh, I know how to use that mixer, my grandma’s is just like it!” I said to my hostess as she pulled out her mother’s mixer. She looked pleased and then sighed, “Yes, this one is still plugging away, unlike the things they make now. Planned obsolescence, they call it. So your products have a life-span of only a few years.” The term was not new to me, nor the concept—but that didn’t stop
I recently wrote a critique of Theonomy over at Mere Orthodoxy. Lots of feedback came my way, some constructive, most not. What seems to have been lost on many readers is that, first and foremost, my critique was aimed at the critics. I want to take Theonomy seriously and my criticisms to push them to better explication of their ideas. Finding the majority of recent criticisms of Theonomy either unfair or unthoughtful—when it comes to
Out of all the Christmas presents I’ve received over the years, none so far can hold a candle to what showed up under the tree when I was ten: a thick paperback set of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I’d been raised on (and loved) C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and Tolkien’s intricate cosmos felt just like that, but more. Here was a sprawling world with its own languages and
Welcome! Everything is fine. That’s what the wall in front of you says the moment after you die. Or, at least, that’s what The Good Place suggests that the wall in front of you says immediately after the moment of your death. Appearing on NBC from 2016 to 2020, The Good Place is a fantasy comedy series that traces the journeys of four “Good Place” residents (along with their celestial architect friend and his AI
Dicit mihi homo: “Intellegam ut credam”. Respondeo: “Crede ut intellegas” — Augustine, Sermo 43 Sed inrideant nos fortes et potentes, nos autem infirmi et inopes coniteamur tibi — Augustine, Confessions I went off to college with a head full of new learning, and high spirits on account of it. I had only a few years prior discovered that there was much gain in reading ‘old, dead theologians,’ and so left for college with a modest
Over the last few centuries, God’s timeless eternity has not been a strongly emphasized divine attribute. For many Christians, this precept reflects a particularly troublesome Hellenistic influence, given that the Platonic tradition laid great weight on the immutability of the eternal Forms and their corresponding immunity to corruption and decay. A doctrine of timeless eternity, in the eyes of its critics, necessarily calls into question the ability of God to work in history or respond
When I first arrived at my parish, we put up fresh banners to remind the local neighborhood of our ministry and presence. We thought our new signage needed a slogan, a tagline, so we chose “Open your heart; change your life.” It wasn’t a bad first try. Eventually, we decided upon something a little more humble, hopeful and descriptive of the kind of community we were trying to be. We changed our tagline to “Rooted
Seale then this bill of my Divorce to All, On whom those fainter beames of love did fall; Marry those loves, which in youth scattered bee On fame, Wit, Hopes (false mistresses) to thee. – John Donne Over the last few posts (first, second, and third) I’ve been tracing a trajectory concerning the classical question of ethics. I have not, in this tracing, attempted to argue a historical development so much
Bonaventure’s entire theological project is deeply prayerful, and many of his most famous works are bookended by prayer. This is nowhere more evident than the Itinerarium, which begins by advising souls seeking peace to cry out in prayer, and ends with David’s words from Psalm 73—invoking mystical “passing over” into Christ through death. To read Bonaventure rightly is to stand in humility before God, the immeasurable Creator Whom no one can see and still live.
In my first and second posts in this brief series, I raised the classical question of ethics and walked through at least part of Plato’s and Aristotle’s answers. While gleaning much from them, I argued that neither help us much in our encounter with death. I need to be clear on this point. I am not critiquing them for not giving a full or adequate account of the afterlife. Although I suppose an argument like
In Part One of this Pascalian reflection, we considered Pascal’s first step in the path of the spiritual quest. At nearly every point of his Pensées, Pascal goads his readers to pay close attention to the movements of the soul in response to the wonders of the created world. There, he insists, you will find flickers of light, glimmers of reality breaking through the darkness. Those sparks, however, are the beginning, and not the end.
I know the internet needs another article about the changes in the television industry like I need another recipe for slow-cooker chicken chili, but hear me out. Like many cord-cutting millennials, my husband and I have spent the last three years making our way through the critically acclaimed “prestige TV” of the last decade. This loosely defined (and somewhat pretentious) term refers to the serious, cinematic, dark, and novelistic television. Many claim that The Sopranos
In my first post, I noted that—to the question of what whole way of life makes for the most worthwhile life—Plato proposed it must be the just life; the life of the one internally ordered toward the Good. In this post, I’ll consider briefly Aristotle’s musings on the same question. As stated in part I, the purpose of this is not so much historical survey or a ‘rereading’ of these thinkers and their respective positions.
In The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal measures the relative space of a collection of small sculptures. Small. A few inches at most. And though there are 264 of them, they could all be put in an average-sized box and stored away on a shelf somewhere. De Waal recognizes, however, that these wee pieces, called netsuke, take up considerably more space than their actual size. Paraphrasing Lord Digory, they’re bigger on the inside