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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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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01 Jul 2020

Trinity Brings Unity: Hope for a Divided World

Not long ago, my parish was offering the Prayers of the People as part of our Sunday liturgy. Worshippers were free to raise their own voices and add their personal petitions to those of the Book of Common Prayer. As we did so, two seemingly different prayers arose from our midst. One prayer was for the protection of police officers and first responders. Another was for the protection of protesters and all those seeking justice

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11 Mar 2020

Moral Relativity in an Ironic Place

“’Good’ and ‘bad,’ applied to them, are words without content: For it is from them that the content of these words is henceforward to be derived.” –C.S. Lewis, Abolition of Man In Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis explains the nonsense of a subjective postmodern philosophy, wherein truth has no meaning. When one accepts that truth is a social construct rather than an objective correspondence to reality, the words ‘good’ and ‘bad’ no longer hold meaning,

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27 Jan 2020

Universal Salvation and the Loss of the Law

In my last article for Conciliar Post, I argued that teaching universal salvation from the pulpit—irrespective of whether one is convinced by the view—would likely have a negative effect on the spiritual well-being of most modern churchgoers. That would happen, I argued, because the logic of sin as harmful in itself to human flourishing has largely been forgotten. Over email following publication of that piece, a fellow CP contributor questioned whether, in making such an

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27 Mar 2019

Book Review: Irresistible

Once upon a time, there existed a version of Christianity that was irresistible. Over the years, however, errors and accretions have piled up, reducing to a shadow what was once a robust proclamation of the Good News of Jesus. But now, there’s a way that the Church can return to its roots and make the gospel great again. No, this isn’t another book about the corruptions of Catholicism that the Protestant Reformation overcame; it’s the

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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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30 Jun 2018

Ahead of the Curve: A Reflection on the Joker’s Terrible Insight

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.

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14 Mar 2018

Should I Hide When Mormons Come Knocking?

One of the great privileges of serving in the local church is the opportunity to hear intriguing questions from congregants. A couple of weeks ago, I had such an experience after talking about evangelism. The topic of door-to-door Mormon missionaries  came up, and eventually our conversation turned to how to interact with non-Christian missionaries—and if they should be shown any sort of hospitality at all. One participant in the conversation mentioned that they do not

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18 Oct 2017

Luther’s First Good Work

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

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03 Jul 2017

A Reflection on Christian Patriotism

Throughout my college years I experienced a religious awakening of sorts. Having recently involved myself in a local church and young adult ministry, I was beginning to grow in my faith and see the world in a more Christian way. This development of faith, in my life, was preceded by a more robust understanding of civic life, political spaces, and politics more generally. For me, government and politics was a place for people of diverse

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24 May 2017

the end of the cigarette

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

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29 Mar 2017

To Enter Gilead

To Enter Gilead Judges 12:5-6 For the refugees of the Syrian crisis. My infant daughter doesn’t have a word for thirst. The words she knows, we make her say. We require what she has. But when she points, panicked with need, we relent. Things were different for Ephraim. The Jordan ford was watched– there was no deliberating. To enter Gilead was pass-fail. When they couldn’t say the shibboleth, they died for it. —Commentary— In the

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helluniversalism
10 Nov 2016

Round Table: Hell and Universalism

If “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) and “desires that all be saved” (2 Tim 2:4), how are Christians to make sense of hell? Is hell undoubtedly eternal (as passages like Matt 25:41 suggest), or is it possible that God’s Love will eventually conquer even the staunchest of resisting wills? What is the role of doctrine about hell in living the Christian life, in training new Christians, or in proclaiming the Gospel?  Today our

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23 Sep 2016

EpiPen and Aquinas: Arguing for a Just Price

“PHARMA GREED KILLS.” “PEOPLE OVER PROFIT” “Heather Bresch: THE FACE OF GREED” So resounds the public outrage toward Mylan Inc. and the company’s CEO Heather Bresch after having steadily increased the price of EpiPen from $100 in 2007 to $600 last May.1 Critics argue that the price to manufacture the injector has not increased during that time, that the product itself has not changed, that research and development costs cannot justify the decision, and that

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24 Jun 2016

Conflicting Vocations and Professional Ethics — A Response to the “Buried Bodies Case”

I recently asked John Ehrett—our resident legal expert—about a fascinating podcast that discussed the ins and outs of what is known as the “Buried Bodies Case.” What follows is his response…   -Ben Winter Conflicting Vocations and Professional Ethics Among legal ethicists, few situations have received as much attention as the “buried bodies case,” a disquieting story in which the specter of a serial killer’s crimes lingered even after his conviction. The murderer in question

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22 Jun 2016

The Ethics of Funny

Many moons ago, I wrote an article titled The Divine Art of Funny, wherein I described the nature and purpose of humor from a Christian perspective. In short, humor is the study of incongruities in life and the world, and those incongruities which elicit a pleasure response like laughter and smiles are what we call “funny.” Whereas materialists are only able to describe humor in terms of evolutionary and psychological causation, I suggest that there

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29 Apr 2016

Does Apophatic Theology Denature Christianity? Part II

Does Apophatic Theology Denature Christianity Part I. I. The Reality of Sin in Apophatic Theology Viewing God as the ultimate embodiment of moral rightness means that moral action, and the moral life, is intrinsically oriented away from the self: one ought to sublimate one’s own will and desires when those sentiments impel toward self-aggrandizement or self-centeredness. Moral evil, then, is a self-oriented derogation from the moral perfection God epitomizes. Spong correctly (and in line with

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15 Apr 2016

Does Apophatic Theology Denature Christianity? Part I

Introduction: Tracing the Implications of Metaphysical Theology The branch of philosophical theology known as classical theism has long written of a God who is the Ground and Source of Being, both wholly transcendent and wholly immanent (Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart’s brilliant exposition and defense of this concept, The Experience of God, is still one of the most influential and thought-provoking books I’ve ever read). This concept, implicit in Eastern Orthodox and much Catholic

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