On the Structure of Leviticus

Leviticus is divided into thirty-seven speeches, each introduced by “Yahweh spoke to Moses” (see Warning, Literary Artistry in Leviticus). The 19th speech – the central one – is Leviticus 16, instruction for the “day of coverings.” From this, one can derive a simple chiastic outline of the book (I’ve discussed this in more detail in my essay in The Glory of Kings): A. Offerings, chapters 1-7 B. Priestly ordination; fall and fire-punishment, chs. 8-10 C. Laws of uncleanness: defile sanctuary, chs… Read more

The Cross of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, 4

IV. Cross of Reality Christianity’s history is the story of the cross’s penetra­tion into human experience and society. New epochs are formed when the cross begins to mark a new “sphere of our minds or bodies” (CF, p.165). In the new era that Rosenstock-Huessy saw coming, the cross needed to pen­etrate into social life. In preparation for this new epoch, Rosenstock-Huessy thought, it is necessary to reformulate Christianity’s dogmas about the cross, translating it into “non-ecclesiastical, post-theological language” in an… Read more

Post-Confederate Memorials

Joseph Bottum offers a Girardian analysis of the current craze for knocking down monuments (Weekly Standard). Along the way, he explores the origins of the Confederate memorials, observing that “The list of removed statues and memorials seems mostly to prove what busy beavers the United Daughters of the Confederacy were from the 1910s through the 1960s.” This surge in Confederate memory was driven by the political needs to the Democratic party: “it was with Woodrow Wilson in 1912, and especially… Read more

The Cross of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, 3

III. The Cross and Civilization Jesus gives abundant life. As the Crucified and Risen Man, he also creates new possibilities for history, forms a new epoch of history, the Christian era, and forms the possibil­ity of a new civilization. To understand fully what Rossen­stock-Huessy means by this, we need to examine his sketch of ancient social forms. Following Augustine, Rosenstock-Huessy argues that civilizations are formed according to the direction of their loves. Love is expressed in call and response, in… Read more

Unequal Yoke

Jehoshaphat allies with Ahab of Israel by marrying his son to Ahab’s daughter Athaliah (2 Chronicles 18:1-3). He follows up with a religious alliance, sharing a sacrificial feast with Ahab. That leads to a military alliance, as Jehoshaphat puts Yahweh’s hosts on the field to fight for Ahab. It almost kills him. Jehoshaphat escapes from the battlefield by a hair. You might think Jehoshaphat would learn a lesson about alliances with Ahab, but no. He later makes an alliance with Ahab’s son… Read more

The Cross of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, 2

II. The Cross in Christian Experience How are the cross and resurrection reproduced in human life since Jesus’ cross and resur­rection? Essentially, Jesus incorporated death into life. Christian faith means faith in a God who makes death into a positive feature in life. Rosenstock-Huessy observes that life is suffering, battle, pain, shock, failure, elation. Human beings are always torn, always riven. Much of human life, individually and col­lectively, is an effort to deal with suffering and death. By being the… Read more

The Cross of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, 1

For a general introduction to the life and work of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, see my “The Relevance of Rosenstock-Huessy.” “The Crucifixion is the fountainhead of all my values,” wrote the German-American philosopher and historian Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, “the great divide whence flow the processes most real in my inner life, and my primary response to our tradition is one of gratitude to the source of my own frame of reference in everyday life.” He adds, “our chronology of B.C. and A.D. makes… Read more

What Pianists Know

I grew up taking piano lessons. My mother, a college music teacher before her marriage, made sure of that. I didn’t care much for it, and gave it a lot less attention than my free throw technique. Tristesse. I wish I had believed my teachers who told me I’d regret my laziness. Still, I learned some things, not only about music but about life. I suppose musicians who play other instruments have learned similar lessons. One of them is: Look… Read more

Liturgical Tradition

Maxwell Johnson ends a chapter on “the Apostolic Tradition” in the Oxford History of Christian Worship with a reflection on the challenge of identifying the content of the “liturgical tradition”: “it has become extraordinarily difficult in the light of contemporary liturgical scholarship to say clearly from within this formative period of the first three centuries what this ‘inherited tradition’ actually is. That is, the history of Christian worship in these centuries is not the history of a single tradition of… Read more

Worship and Life in Balance

Worship, Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) says, orders everything in human life: “It is only . . . when man’s relationship with God is right that all of his other relationships . . . can be in good order . . . . Worship . . . is essential for the right kind of human existence in the world. It is so precisely because it reaches beyond everyday life. Worship gives us a share in heaven’s mode of existence, in the… Read more

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