Introduction Back in December, historian Niall Ferguson gave a lecture in which he drew an analogy between today’s political polarization and the religious polarization of the post-Reformation sixteenth century, which as we know, led to a hundred-year decimation of Europe and culminated in the Thirty Years’ War. Ferguson’s analysis suffers from an overly materialistic focus, as secular historians are wont to employ, and fails to give due regard to theological motivations. This is forgivable since
“The word ‘God’ defines a personal relation, not an objective concept. Like the name of the beloved in every love, it does not imply separation and distance. Hearing the beloved’s name is an immediate awareness, a dimensionless proximity of presence. It is our life wholly transformed into relation.” —Christos Yannaras, Variations of the Song of Songs THE EROTIC GIFT OF SELF-DENIAL Love transforms existence into relation. Without love, the created order exists in a
On Nakedness and Shame Human beings show an almost universal desire to conceal certain parts of their body from the gaze of others, especially persons of the opposite sex. We react instantaneously and spontaneously to try and hide our nakedness. But why do we respond in such a way, and why do we feel shame if we are exposed to the gaze of others? Jean-Paul Sartre and Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II)
Sin is a complicated subject. Not only do theologians disagree as to what sin actually is, but Christians seem to be confused as to what is actually “sinful” anymore. Homosexuality, for instance, seems to be the hot topic in our time. However, I believe most of our confusion today stems from the forgotten reality that sin is, and always has been, a subjective experience for man; so it is this aspect of sin that I wish
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
I was recently perusing the latest edition of JAAR (Journal of the American Academy of Religion, vol. 86 ) 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.
The 2016 film Me Before You stars Emilia Clarke as an awkward young woman who needs employment to help support her poor working class family. After losing her job at a local bakery, she applies to become a caretaker for the adult son of a wealthy family. The son, played by Sam Claflin, was an active and successful young man before being injured in a motorcycle accident that left him as a quadriplegic. The two
Introduction Early in The Dark Knight, Alfred describes the Joker in perhaps the most memorable lines of the film: Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. The Joker is characterized as someone who is beyond reason: crazy, deranged, out of his mind. His ostensibly pointless acts of violence and mayhem appear to reinforce this assessment.
In the opening section of “A Treatise on Good Works,” Martin Luther declares: “The first and highest, the most precious of all good works is faith in Jesus Christ.”1 Luther was not an ethicist as such, but his claim, if true, has wide-ranging implications for anyone in pursuit of the “good life”—that end toward which ethics is aimed. Such a bold idea warrants justification. What could this statement possibly mean? How is faith a work
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10) I recently finished reading Marcia L. Colish’s Medieval Foundations of the Western Intellectual Tradition for one of my seminary courses. Coupled with other readings on medieval theology, I have come to greatly appreciate the richness and depth of medieval theology, an appreciation that
Loving God, Our walls are too high Our gaze is turned inward We avert danger at the expense of love We seek ourselves to the extent of losing identity We focus on living so much that we never truly exist May the example of your Son be seen among us May his life be dramatized in the play of our lives May we improvise according to the story of the suffering king May we be
If there’s one thing everyone agrees on, it’s this: “You shouldn’t use law to force your morality on others.” And if there’s one other thing everyone agrees on, it’s that the other side is always trying to do exactly that. You don’t want to use contraceptives? Fine. Just stop insisting that others avoid them as well. You want to participate in gay weddings? Fine. Just stop making cake vendors do the same. What’s going on
The peanut butter aisle of a major grocery store presents the average shopper with a great moral dilemma. From the wide variety of options available, how does one select which jar of peanut butter to purchase? The discerning shopper has to be able to select between multiple brands and different price points. Furthermore, the all-important crunchy or creamy decision needs to be made. As the shopper makes his or her final choice, other factors must
What does it mean to remember well? To remember ethically? These questions are as engaging as they are rare. How often do we think about the ethics of memory? Our default assumption is to portray memory as an objective recollection of details, but that’s a misrepresentation. Memory is a value-laden, subjective, interpretive engagement with the past. History and memory are never objective affairs, but are imbued with significance that has a direct influence on our
the end of the cigarette i smoked a cigarette today and drank a glass of milk set on a log both i and the milk were beading sweat now and then i leaned the column of the cigarette against a flake of bark that used to generate the very life of this tree now a log i sat on indifferent to me in the yellow sunlight the cigarette was from a yellow pack with a
“Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs.” 1 A recent New York Times article calls out evangelicals on their willingness to excuse scandal within their ranks. The proof case in focus was the Bill O’Reily sex allegations and subsequent firing. Katelyn Beaty, the author of the piece, laments the evangelical sympathy and loyalty expressed for O’Reily that followed. She then chastised
The leaders we follow are often problematic. But are they hypocrites, or “morally-complex” antiheroes? What’s the difference? And what about you and me?
In recent years and months it has become undeniable that the foremost social issues pervading our culture involve personhood and identity. The transgender debate is the most obvious manifestation of this. But the broader, or perhaps underlying, debate of how personhood is to be defined is rapidly expanding beyond gender neutral bathrooms at Target. Indeed, even rivers are being declared ‘persons’. And it is becoming evident that technology will be interwoven into these questions, or
“Tradition is not static but dynamic, not stifling but liberating. Orthodoxy is a tool, not an end…I sometimes feel that a traditionalist means one who is effectively ignorant of the tradition in its richness and complexity but who clings, neurotically and fiercely, to the conventions of several decades past.”1 “Conventionality and orthodoxy are completely different matters, and that many who boast the name of Catholic would be surprised and shocked at what the tradition actually
This past election season popular evangelical theologian, Wayne Grudem, penned two controversial articles for Townhall.com, wherein he defended, inter alia, the Christian Trump vote. The article, in a style that mimics a campaign website’s policy position statements, is lengthy and not revolutionary, especially in hindsight. Yet, at the time a particular statement caught my eye. Hopefully, now that we are more than two months into a Trump administration, my analysis and humble refutation of Grudem’s