St. Socrates: Philosophy’s Permanent Ties to Theology

Dominique Janicaud has spent the great part of his academic career attempting to somewhat belligerently keep phenomenology (the main current of continental philosophy) pure from contamination by theology.Trends in contemporary French phenomenology suggest he has completely failed.It was a gallant, but all too quixotic, battle.Janicaud should have been more Rabelaisian in his approach. He was always stuck rowing against the current of phenomenology's founding ties to theology.Not e … [Read More...]

She liked shouting. But did that make her any easier to hear?

#Roe42: Abortion, Cognitive Bias & the Problem of Representation

The problem of representation is one of the key issues of modern philosophy. It ranges all the way from the question of what can be represented all the way to what by definition cannot be represented. In fact, Descartes' search for ways to represent clearly and distinctly launched the modern philosophical project. Yet, by the 20th century Descartes' own French philosophical tradition was wholesale denigrating visual representation.I'm in the process of interviewing David Griffith, the … [Read More...]

The Middle East's ancient surviving religions provide hints to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim origins.

How Did Disappearing Middle Eastern Religions Survive in the First Place?

Gerard Russell's Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East should be on everyone's reading list. Its discussion of Islam's coexistence with ancient faiths gives us hints about our Jewish and Christian roots. It is a necessary corrective to the one-sided coverage of Islam in the media and among combox tyrants.Russell is a bit like the recently deceased Polish eyewitness journalist and (time-) travel writer Ryszard Kapuscinski, author of Shah of … [Read More...]

This picture is a little to the left.

A Breakdown of the Conservative Catholic Hermeneutic of Contiguity?

I did not expect that reposting "To What Degree is First Things Responsible for Iraq?" would cause a minor storm. The fact of the matter appears to be, according to Damon Linker, that First Things was giving an imprimatur to a fait accompli. The damage had already been done by the warmongering of the older NeoCon press. Not that the old guard NC's don't have Catholics on their boards.The lasting damage of all of these political engagements lies in American Catholics confusing their … [Read More...]

Deconstruction is dead, long live postmodernism!

I’m Not Well—The Voices are Back

No, this isn't about Stephen Herreid. He seems to have gone into writing exile after realizing how much he encouraged my freeloading.Instead I have something for those who are wondering, after reading yesterday's post (Beauty, Postmodernism, and Vodka), what Gregory Wolfe is doing to keep artists from starving in garrets.Besides publishing IMAGE Journal for over 25 years he also recently started the Slant imprint with my personal favorite: Wipf & Stock Publishers.So far Slant has … [Read More...]


Beauty, Postmodernism, and Vodka: Gregory Wolfe Interview Preview

Gregory Wolfe has spent half a lifetime saying "Beauty will save the world." Czeslaw Milosz once said "Heaven is the third vodka."==============================================================UPDATE: The complete Gregory Wolfe interview is now available on Ethika Politika!==============================================================See how these two things come together below.Cosmos the in Lost and its evil twin Rabelaisian Catholicism have frequently waded into the waters … [Read More...]

Catholic-Muslim relations haven't always been trials by fire. (Giotto, St. Francis before the Sultan; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100)

What Christian Group Says They Worship Same God as Muslims?

French history, and a little bit of American international relations, have been the main focus of my last few meditations. All of them have been related to recent Western perceptions of Islam. Recent is the key word, because these perceptions have shifted considerably over time and have by no means been always tilted toward seeing it as exclusively violent. What's more, the harms inflicted by the West upon Islam ought to be remembered if we are not to buy into the myth of the nation-state as a … [Read More...]


A French Genocide and Salvation Outside the State

Christians who give into their fears of their opponents miss out on a lot of great insights. This maxim also holds most for books that are labelled anti-Christian for whatever reason. For example, Rene Girard demonstrated in his I See Satan Fall Like Lightning there is much to learn about Christianity and its strange commitment to the weak from Nietzsche.A more recent example of being all wrong about all the right things is Mark Lilla's once much discussed, now all too soon forgotten, The S … [Read More...]

Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100)

From Napoleon to Bin Laden: France and Modern Terrorism

Like amber national anthems preserve monstrosities from the past. Frequently this past humbles the clean self-image of an age.For example, read the following words from the French national anthem: To arms, citizens / Form your battalions/ Let's march, let's march! /  Let an impure blood / Water our furrows! How odd is it that the Westerners who, according to Steven Pinker, are supposedly getting progressively less violent by listening to their better angels should still sing this in pub … [Read More...]

Like smoking Houellebecq's satire is deadly serious.

Houellebecq: Charlie Hebdo Coverboy Maps Faith’s Manifestations

Michel Houellebecq is on the front cover of this week's edition of Charlie Hebdo. It might not be immediately clear what a novelist whose last work published in English, The Map and the Territory --the review bore the title "From Cocks to Corpses"--might have to offer Catholic or Christian (let's not confuse the two) audiences. It is my hard and fast contention that a theologically firmly grounded audience can draw out big insights from his work.A case in point is my first encounter with … [Read More...]