Nietzsche in 1899, Weakness catches up with all of us. (Source: Hans Olde, Sick NIetzsche Photo Series, 1899; Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100

Nietzsche Says Christianity Produces Weaklings. Kolakowski Agrees.

Nietzsche's Antichrist is on my all time favorite novels for a particular reason. His writing cannot always be taken as pure philosophy since many of the things he says are fictitious. The genre of fiction deflects much more of the interpretive task onto its readers than philosophy. On the other hand, philosophers tend to speak with authority, because they want their readers to believe what they say in some way corresponds to the way things are. Fiction, on the other hand, allows us to think … [Read More...]

Fabrice Hadjadj says the really choppy weather only starts at conversion, unless you're doing something wrong.

Even Demons Believe: Converting the World Will NOT Make Everyone Holy

Last week I wrote about the one novel you need to read this year. Now it's out of stock at amazon. Coincidence? Probably. This week I'll write about the one Lent book you must have, but can't have, because it's only available in French, Spanish, and Polish. You'll have to content yourself with my Lent reading suggestions. Now, after thinking about the supposed secularity of Quebec in comparison to Holy Mother Russia I questioned the validity of applying straightforward statistical methods to … [Read More...]

Ivan Belsky, The Bishop Serving the Divine Liturgy, 1770; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100.

Holy Orthodox Mother Russia? Let’s Compare it to Quebec!

Quebec is usually cited as one of the most shocking examples of rapid secularization. The process was worrisome enough to draw Charles Taylor from writing about Hegel and epistemology into interpreting secularity in books such as A Secular Age and Secularism and Freedom of Conscience. In response to my musings on Putin's continuity with Russian history and the report on the statistical state of Orthodoxy my friend Jean-Francois came up with the following surprising conclusion going off of these … [Read More...]

Putin's Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy by Anna Politkovskaya: Upside-down church-state relations also have a lot to do with this story.

Hope Abandoned: Something Rotten in Putin’s Russia Besides Nemtsov’s Corpse

"Killing Hope in Putin's Russia" could be one of the most depressing reads of the year if you know nothing about Russian history.Nemtsov’s allies were divided on whom to blame for the murder. Some pointed a finger at the Kremlin, since the crime took place literally just outside its walls, swarming with guards and security cameras. Others suspected the hand of rogue zealots like the Moscow-born former east Ukraine militia leader Igor Strelkov, who returned from Donetsk vowing to wage war a … [Read More...]

Jesus and his Jewish religion was not born in London, Berlin, Paris, or Rome. (Rembrandt, Young Jew as Jesus, 1648; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100)

The West Was Never Western: Creative Plagiarism, Rome, Tracing

I was recently reminded of a quip in Woody Allen's Annie Hall. His character says: I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me. I believe this episode of copying is fruitful for thinking about what so-called Western culture really is and is not.The quip came back to me yesterday during Sam Rocha's Catholic Philosophy 101 lecture at the University of Washington's Newman Center (part 2 comes next Wednesday 7PM) when … [Read More...]

Do contemporary Christians fear martyrdom as much as they fear silence.

On Lent and the Martyred Copts: Can Water, Silence, and Desert Coincide?

Lent is the seasons of going off into the desert and facing temptation. In the Gospel reading for the First Sunday of Lent (MK 1:12-1) the Spirit drives Jesus after his baptism into the dry wastes for forty days where he faces off against the Devil. Jesus resists the temptations of the desert by not becoming drunk with the power the Devil offers him.The early eremitic monastics saw this episode as the key to Christian life. They left the busy cities with their bureaucracies behind them and … [Read More...]

There are several forms of reflection. After being forced into choosing Ida chooses the most unpresupposing one.

Ida and Avoiding Silence at Any Cost

My initial reflections upon Ida concentrated upon the historical context of the film, about what it reveals about Polish history. This is not to say what the film is all about. It might be even possible that all the discussions about the film, or even the reason why it earned its Oscar, have totally missed the mark of the film's aim. This is because its real subject is much more perplexing than can immediately countenanced, since it goes against the most basic habits that form our everyday … [Read More...]

Paul J. Willis says this book is "not only a highly engaging murder mystery but also a metaphysical page-turner."

What’s the One Novel You Need to Read This Year?

Death Comes for the Deconstructionist lays out the set of confounding problems facing us in the wake of the overwhelming victory of French theory in America's academia. The plot revolves around the protagonist Jon Mote being called to investigate the death of his former grad school mentor, the deconstructionist, Richard Pratt--something of an academic star a bit past the peak of this popularity.One of Derrida's most famous dictums was that "there is nothing outside the text," that every me … [Read More...]


1 Thing Nobody Noticed about Oscar Best Foreign Film Winner Ida

Great art always shows you more than you are prepared to see.While watching Ida the viewer naturally gravitates toward the main protagonist. In this film Ida's struggle to recover her Jewish identity takes center stage. She ultimately discovers her family was killed by the Catholic Polish family that had sheltered them--either out of fear of German reprisals, or hoping to profit from it somehow, or both, or neither.If you want the complexities of Polish history, then there you have them: … [Read More...]

G.K. Chesterton thought that "Hope" by George Frederick Watts ought to be called "Despair." (Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100)

Repentance is the Daughter of Hope and the Refusal to Despair

An excerpt from Archbishop Sartain's A Lenten Pilgrimage that hits all the right notes: Every Lent in the monasteries of the Orthodox Church, a seventh-century work by St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, is read aloud to the monks. With the exception of the Bible, there is no book in Orthodox Christianity that has been studies, copied, and translated more than The Ladder.John Climacus presents holiness as a ladder of thirty steps. Each rung of the ladder reflects a lesson, v … [Read More...]