03 Mar 2021

On the distinction between thinking from and thinking to

Dicit mihi homo: “Intellegam ut credam”. Respondeo: “Crede ut intellegas”[1]   — Augustine, Sermo 43 Sed inrideant nos fortes et potentes, nos autem infirmi et inopes coniteamur tibi[2]  — 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

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22 Feb 2021

Timeless Eternity Is Not Divine Frozenness

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

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27 Jan 2021

A Dangerous Question

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

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06 Jan 2021

Happiness, Death, Anxiety, Resurrection – IV: The Apostle Paul

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

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02 Dec 2020

Bonaventure on Prayer

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.

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18 Nov 2020

Happiness, Death, Anxiety, Resurrection – Part III: Ecclesiastes

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

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17 Oct 2020

Pensées, Reality, and le Coeur (Part Two)

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.

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09 Oct 2020

Can I Get a Hero?

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

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07 Oct 2020

Happiness, Death, Anxiety, Resurrection – Part II: Aristotle

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.

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16 Sep 2020

Pensées and a Course in Reality (Part One)

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

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02 Sep 2020

Happiness, Death, Anxiety, Resurrection – Part I: Plato

Introduction As summer turns to fall, I always become more reflective. Perhaps it’s my age. Perhaps it’s the pandemic. Perhaps it’s this new stage of my life. Perhaps it’s just, as Pascal would say, the grandeur and misery of being human. Whatever the reason, this fall I’ve been thinking about the good life. What makes for human happiness? That is the classical question of ethics, of course. I am not going to attempt anything like

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28 Aug 2020

Integralism as Default

The so-called post-liberal debate rolls on; as is to be expected in the midst of the greatest civil unrest and polarization many recent generations have yet witnessed. So long as present problems can be attributed to the status quo, then soul-searching will commence (hopefully on both sides of the ideological and class divide, but I would not advise holding your breath). And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Recent contributions from Sohrab Ahmari and

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17 Aug 2020

Infinities upon Infinity: Reflections on Borges’ Library of Babel

The Myth of Babel The Library of Babel is one of those seminal texts to which I must return regularly if I am to feel fully alive. Alongside works like Annie Dillard’s novella Holy the Form, this is art that is best read out loud and pondered, cherished—even venerated. For it informs us deeply of our distinctively human condition. It rips back the veil and exposes our woefully inadequate, time-bound conceptions of God (and God’s

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12 Aug 2020

On Lions and Injustice

“If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmund Tutu “If a lion could speak, we could not understand him.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations  As I was perusing my various social media feeds waiting for my son to finish his blackberries, I came across this quote, “If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Wanting more of

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10 Aug 2020

Read Theology in Hard Copy

When I was in college, I considered myself an early adopter of ebooks.  I was delighted to learn that I didn’t have to lug around heavy volumes anymore, but could just toss my Kindle in my bag and be good to go. Plus, ebooks tended to be a lot cheaper than the tomes I’d grown up reading. Today, I still read a lot of books on my computer (like every other theology grad student in

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29 Jul 2020

It is a Sin Not to Wear a Facemask

Anyone perusing social media these days will be well aware that the latest politicized controversy dividing American society is about wearing facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic. One cannot make a simple trip to the grocery store without becoming bogged in a morass of invisible social pressure, judgment, and labels regarding whether one decides to don a face covering or not. Christians and Christian Churches are divided, largely along political lines, as to the compulsoriness of

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15 Jul 2020

Turning Swords into Plowshares

“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). Over the Memorial Day weekend, I was watching a celebration on TV and at the same time reading Shane Claiborne’s book Beating Guns:  Hope for Those Who Are Weary of Violence.  Both celebration and book quoted John 15:13: “No greater love is this than the

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17 Apr 2020

Suffering Subverted: Good Friday, Easter, and Divine Impassibility

Opportunities for meditation on the nature of God’s being often present themselves in surprising places. For example, on Holy Wednesday, I was in a Zoom class at my progressive, mainline Protestant seminary. The class was discussing accessibility for disabled people in the Church. In the course of this discussion a classmate of mine posited the idea that, because God is “super able,” our theology can easily tend to exclude people with disabilities. He then followed

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13 Apr 2020

John Cotton, Protestant Integralist

What follows is, so far as I can tell, the basic tenets of Catholic integralism— a topic of heated debate lately— or what is sometime called “Gelasian dyarchy,” a reference to Pope Saint Gelasius’ letter to Emperor Anastasius in the late fifth-century which espoused the dualistic principle of church and state, (i.e. “duo sunt”). 1) There are two powers that rule humanity: a temporal power (the state) and a spiritual power (the Church). Since man’s

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17 Mar 2020

Round Table: Do Animals Have Souls?

In Genesis 1, God creates the animals of the sea and sky on the fifth day and subsequently creates land animals on the sixth. On this same day God also forms a certain kind of land animal in God’s own image and likeness—humankind (Gen 1:26-27). As with the animals of land, sea, and sky, humans are told to “be fruitful and multiply,” but then receive a unique set of instructions from God: “Fill the earth

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