Sex and freedom in ancient Rome

Classical scholar Peter Brown has published in the New York Review of Books an excited review of Kyle Harper’s From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity (Harvard University Press).  The book, which is said to break new ground in the scholarship of ancient Rome, shows that the vaunted sexual permissiveness of ancient Rome was inextricably linked to the practice of slavery, with slave boys and girls being the primary sex objects who could not object to how they were used.  He also shows how the early Church, which decisively challenged and successfully changed this  brutal and hypersexualized culture, connected sexual morality with freedom.

After the jump, an excerpt from the review with a link to the book.  Question:  Could Christianity transform sexual morality once again? [Read more...]

Who else should be Person of the Year?

Time Magazine announced its Person of the Year for 2013:  Pope Francis.  That’s a good and fitting choice.  But it is the custom of this blog for you the readers to nominate who you think should be Person of the Year.  So who else should it be?  (We will adopt Time Magazine rules, according to which the Person of the Year doesn’t actually have to be a person, as when The Computer won it in 1982. [See the list of previous winners.]  So feel free to nominate the Drone.) [Read more...]

An Easter sermon by Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95.  He exemplifed an unusual kind of political power.  He spent 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid activism in South Africa.  Whereupon he built up so much moral authority that the apartheid government, with its overtly racist system in which whites ruled over blacks,  ended up dismantling itself.  When he emerged from prison to become president of the new government, he led the newly-empowered black majority away from revenge to reconciliation with their former oppressors.

Mandel was a Christian, as the post below recounts.  After the jump, an excerpt from a quite powerful sermon he gave on the risen Messiah. [Read more...]

The Christianity of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, who led South Africa out of racial apartheid, was a Christian, whose faith shaped his activism.  So reports British journalist Michael Trimmer after the jump. [Read more...]

Happy Lewis/Huxley/Kennedy day!

Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy, and Aldous Huxley.  The curious conjunction of the death of these three individuals (a Christian apologist, an American president, and a speculative novelist), with their different cultural contributions and different worldviews, on November 22, 1963 is worth contemplating, especially at the half-century milestone.  So that’s what we will do today on this blog.

A good way to observe the day, after the jump. [Read more...]

JFK on the Hand of God

The Chaplain of the U. S. House of Representatives, Father Daniel Coughlin, says that President John F. Kennedy taught him how to pray and speak of faith in the public arena.  See President Kennedy’s Gift of Language and the Art of Prayer.  The man, for all his faults, certainly was eloquent, making today’s politicians sound like inarticulate adolescents.

To observe the 50th anniversary of his death, read his Inaugural Address, which contains many rich ideas in addition to the justly famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  So much for the entitlement mentality that drives so much of today’s politics and government.   What else do you find in this speech that we would never hear today?  Are there ideas in the speech that suggest a way forward out of our current malaise?  I’ll post the speech–it isn’t long–beginning here, with my emphasis, and continuing after the jump:

[1] Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, Reverend Clergy, fellow citizens:

[2] We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end as well as a beginning–signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

[3] The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God. [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X