Noah, the Kabbalah, and Gnosticism

If you’ve seen the movie Noah, you might have wondered about where the filmmaker is getting all of that extra-biblical stuff.  Adam and Eve as beings of light?  The angels imprisoned in matter?  Blessings from the skin of the serpent in the garden?  Brian Mattson shows that all of this and more–down to the names of the angels and jargon such as “Zohar”–comes from the Jewish gnosticism of the Kabbalah.

The use of the Kabbalah and gnostic texts is so blatant that Dr. Mattson asks how all of the Christian leaders who endorsed the movie could have missed it.  He calls on all seminaries to require their graduates to have read Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, since we are, in effect, he says, back to the 2nd century. [Read more…]

GOP establishment wooing Jeb Bush

A number of Republican leaders and donors–motivated by pragmatism and looking for a candidate who is moderate enough to actually win the next presidential election–are trying to persuade Jeb Bush to run.  Of course, these are the same win-at-any-cost pragmatists who gave us Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Whatever the virtues of Jeb Bush, the Bush “brand” is surely a liability, and choosing candidates from a family dynasty is surely a monarchical instinct and unworthy of a free republic.  (The same holds true for Clintons and Kennedys.)  Or am I missing something? [Read more…]

Corporations with “values”

Liberals are generally deriding Hobby Lobby’s claim that its religious freedom is being violated by the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.  How can a corporation, they ask, have a religion?  But companies liberals love–such as Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Whole Foods–make a big point of asserting their “values” (being “sustainable,” helping the environment, treating people with respect, etc.).  So how can a corporation have “values”?  True, corporations cannot have faith and go to Heaven.  But surely corporate entities, even if they are for-profit, can make “values” part of their missions.  Hobby Lobby’s corporate values include being pro-life, just as Ben & Jerry’s include being pro-environment.  Trevor Burrus argues that corporations do indeed have “rights of conscience” that need to be protected by law. [Read more…]

Finding the Holy Grail?

Some historians, on the basis of manuscript and carbon-dating evidence, claim to have identified a particular chalice as the Holy Grail, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper.  The gold and jewel-encrusted vessel is built around a more humble cup that has been traced to the Middle East in the years between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D.

If the Grail has been recovered, according to legend, the spiritual wasteland of our age will come back to life.  But I say that if you want a cup that holds Christ’s blood and that will bring life in the spiritual wasteland, all you have to do is go to a church that offers the Sacrament of the Altar and you will find it.

See a picture of the alleged Grail and sample two news stories about it after the jump. [Read more…]

Life’s happiness as a U-shaped curve

When you’re a child, you are happy, but you become less so during your teenage years.  Then you get more and more miserable.  But in your 40’s you bottom out.  Then you keep getting happier.  When you are old, you are happier than you ever have been.  Not only that, the older you get, the happier you become.

The level of happiness in your life can be graphed as a U-shaped curve.  That’s the pattern documented in a recent study.  And it seems to apply, with variations, to every culture studied.  With one exception:  Russia, in which happiness keeps going down until the age of 91, which few Russians reach. [Read more…]

Classical education goes to the movies

Classical education does quite a bit with aesthetics and encourages deep reflection on works of art.  Thanks to James Banks for alerting me to a new website entitled FilmFisher.  It features movie reviews by classical educators and their students, as mentored by the classical educators.  The discussions of the films–which thus far include Noah, 300, American Hustle, Gattaca, Non-Stop–are very perceptive, going far beyond the usual reductionistic Christian movie reviews.  (Some of you high school or college students should sign up to be a reviewer!) [Read more…]