07 Jul 2021

Some Preliminary Reflections on Metaphysics

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

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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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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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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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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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02 Oct 2019

Go to the Ant, Thou…Curious

Writing in the mid-twentieth century, Dorothy Sayers observed that the church in her part of the world weighed triflingly little in the estimation of its cultured despisers. This was not, however, because its archaic teachings had been finally unmasked as ‘irrelevant’ to progressed, Modern society. No, she insisted, the problem was precisely the opposite: its ancient truths had been hidden from Modern society’s sight: Let us, in heaven’s name, drag out the divine drama from

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08 Jun 2019

The Necessity of Contingency, Part 3: Act and Potency

This is the third installment in the series stemming from my original post, “The Necessity of Contingency.” You can view part two here. In the last post, I discussed the ontological presupposition behind classical theism, namely, man’s dependence. The goal of this post is to establish another foundational metaphysical presupposition of classical theism which will permit fuller discussion of causality, God’s knowledge, and human freedom in a later piece. What is laid out below is

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15 Feb 2019

Althusius, Symbiotic Man, and Reliving the Sixteenth Century

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

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06 Sep 2018

The Siberian and the Statue

Parable There once lived an early modern Siberian man who loved nothing more in life than to mold statues. In fact, his whole soul was fulfilled to the utmost by the process of his labor and the results of his art: beautiful, good statues of virtuous humans. He too was a virtuous man, possessing habits that facilitated his happiness. As such, he was looked upon by his community as honorable. One day, the man was

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26 Feb 2018

Book Review: “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos”

Jordan Peterson —the University of Toronto psychology professor who rose to prominence after taking a controversial stand against his university’s decision to mandate the use of transgender students’ preferred pronouns—has rapidly emerged as one of today’s most interesting public figures. Famed for his provocative YouTube videos expressing hard truths to young men, Peterson routinely stresses the evolutionary realities of life and humans’ place in the world. Given this pattern, one might expect Peterson’s recent book

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28 Sep 2017

Mother’s Matter (Film Review)

Review of Mother! (dir. Darren Aronofsky, 2017) My Rating: 9/10 Recommended viewing, provided you have the stomach for psychological horror.  Note: This review first appeared on Theology + Movies. Note: Do not read this review if you are planning to see the film (spoilers). But come back and read/comment afterwards, because you’ll want to talk about it! =) Prologue On a rare night out with a friend, I experienced the film Mother!, directed by Darren Aronofsky.

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30 Jun 2017

Pushing Back on Piper’s Doctrine of Love

Despite our considerable theological differences, I respect John Piper. Years before Catholicism was anything but a strange, half-pagan concept in my mind, I attended his church in Minneapolis. I was catechized and baptized there, and learned many truths from his preaching that I have never found a substantial reason to doubt, despite subjecting them to much greater scrutiny in later years. Even now, I find much to admire in his life and teaching. However, an

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19 Jun 2017

Catholicism’s Uniquely Baptismal Theology

The basic doctrines that distinguish Christianity from all other religions have, at their root, assumptions that also differentiate Catholicism from all other forms of Christianity. I have spent some time illustrating this phenomenon in the case of several dogmas—the Incarnation, the authority of Christ, and the exclusive claim to grace. However, if you are just joining me now, don’t be daunted. Each essay is independent in its argument, since each one examines a different facet

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A statue of justice, blindfolded and holding a scale and sword.
13 Jun 2017

You Believe in Legislating Morality

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

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12 Jun 2017

Choosing the Best

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

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A man with a video camera silhouette; American flag in background.
08 May 2017

Are We Hypocrites or Antiheroes?

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?

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The statue of Jesus at the Sanctuary of Christ the King, outside of Lisbon.
23 Mar 2017

Could Liberals and Conservatives Follow the Same Christ?

The Christ you follow determines how you vote. If we want political unity, we need to find our way to a single Christ. Here are four possible paths forward.

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03 Jan 2017

The Missing Cardinal Virtue (and Deadly Sin)

There are four Cardinal Virtues and seven Deadly Sins. But both lists seem to be missing something huge. Solving this puzzle might actually help us make the world a better place.

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08 Nov 2016

Can You See a Soul?

Some philosophers say, “If you’ve seen a person, you’ve seen their soul.” And they mean that literally. But others seriously disagree. Who is right, and who should Christians side with?

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26 May 2016

On the Virtue of Classical Happiness

The recent article “Why Happiness is Not a Choice” here at Conciliar Post sparked guest author, Andrew Shustov, to pen a rebuttal in hopes of clarifying the meaning of happiness and its place in our lives. —CP Editors   “The earth teaches us…because it resists us. Man discovers himself when he measures himself against the obstacle.”1 “Something, I know not what, lent this night a savor of Christmas. We told stories, we joked, we sang

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