Did the Father Will the Son’s Death?

Boso, Anselm’s interlocutor in Cur Deus Homo, cites a collection of New Testament texts, and concludes: “Christ endured death under the compulsion of obedience, rather than through the intention of his own free will” (276). Anselm denies that there is any compulsion involved. While he acknowledges that the Father “wished” the death of the Son in a certain sense, that sense is carefully qualified. His offers several lines of response. First, he argues that Boso has failed to make a… Read more

Aram, Assyria, Babylon: The Structure of Isaiah

Three waves of Gentiles flood Judah in the book of Isaiah. The first threat is from Aram and Israel, from Syria and the Northern kingdom. Assyria is the rising power to the east, and that power is threatening to overrun the nations to the west of Assyria. The kings of Aram and Israel want to resist the Assyrians, and so they form an alliance against the Assyrian empire (Isaiah 7-8) and they want to bully Judah into joining that alliance. Isaiah assures… Read more

Of Saints and Senators

Should we expect our political leaders to be saints? There’s a case for saying No. We might begin by making a distinction between private morality and the use of public authority. The ethical question that’s relevant to a political leader is the latter: Is he going to abuse power? What he does with whom in his bedroom or during downtime in the Oval Office doesn’t matter, at least not as much. But is private morality so easily distinguished from public ethics? Can… Read more

Making Time

In what Rosenstock-Huessy calls “the dead universe” of nature, “time gallops ‘like water, flung from cliff to cliff’ and is never present” (In the Cross of Reality, 250). This means that “we get to know time only when we leave external space behind us. When a wall stands between us and the dead, the present vaults above our heads in a span from past to future. Present is what we call the instant of time when a past and future… Read more

House Divided Stands?

Philip Terzian isn’t much disturbed by the tumult in the Republican Party. He concedes that the Party is going through some changes, whose outcome remains to be seen: “The coalition that propelled Donald Trump into the White House may be a harbinger of the party’s future, or it might have been a symptom of his opponent’s weakness. Trump’s success might be a premonition of national crisis, or it might be a reminder that leaders—FDR, Ike, Reagan, Clinton—count for more than… Read more

Death and the Community

In his Death, Burial, and Rebirth in the Religions of Antiquity, Jon Davies attends to the communal significance of the deaths of biblical patriarchs. He writes, “Jacob is gathered ‘unto his people,’ not explicitly unto his God. On the orders of his son Joseph, Jacob was embalmed (a rare occurrence of this practice in Judaism) and carried, in a great procession, out of Egypt to Canaan and buried, in accordance with Jacob’s instructions, at Machpelah. Joseph too was embalmed and… Read more

Rough Trade

Julie Bindel’s study of The Pimping of Prostitution takes a sustained, unrelenting look behind the veil of what’s euphemistically called “sex work.” According to the TLS reviewer, Bindel’s study is based on “interviews with fifty current or former sex workers in thirty-five countries, from New Zealand to rural India, as well as extensive fieldwork, countless other interviews and academic research. She also touches on trafficking, the exploitation of trafficked women by peacekeeping forces in Africa, corruption within charities claiming to help women… Read more

Sociology and Common Knowledge

“We encounter reality only if we approach it on all the paths which we, as creatures, can tread,” writes Rosenstock-Huessy (In the Cross of Reality, 230). He’s commending his quadrilateral cross of reality, arguing that we must pursue the fourfold path of “the soul, of reason, culture, and nature” (230). Not that the cross is a method. These abstractions are only “superstructures” that “represent the universal for which we strive in our capacities as daughter and mother, son and father. We… Read more

Before the Two Cultures

CP Snow’s famously complained about the divergence between “two cultures” of humanism and science. Among Romantic poets, the humanist resistance to science is best exemplified by Blake. As Algis Valiunas observes, Blake’s “unflattering” painting of Newton depicts him as “a consummate specimen of a particular human type, and it is a type that Blake despises.” In Blake’s view, Newton “embodies the mathematical order in which he is rapt. The muscles outlining his back ribs form a perfect row of rhomboids;… Read more

For Easy Poetry

“Once upon a time,” writes Anthony Madrid, “there were two traditions in Anglophone poetry. On the one hand, there was poetry that was completely easy to understand and whose elegance depended on translucent phrases and straightforward sentiments. On the other hand, there was the hard stuff: poetry where the reader had to concentrate intensely, because every line was supersaturated with subtle meanings and exotic, twisted-up diction/syntax.” Not any more: “Ever since the later Elizabethans, the difficult tradition has utterly dominated… Read more

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