Between July and October 1936, WH Auden wrote a long, amusing poetic letter to the long-dead Lord Byron. Among other things, Auden catches the poet up on literary trends in the time since his demise, and among these is the triumph of the novel. And in this context he includes some famous observations on Jane Austen: I must remember, though, that you were dead Before the four great Russians lived, who brought The art of novel writing to a head;… Read more

Amos Yong (Renewing Christian Theology) insists that the charismatic gifts exist not to puff up the charismatic Christian but to edify the church and evangelize the world: “The spiritual gifts are bestowed by God upon and exercised by the body of Christ and its members for the common good of both the church and the world. The charismatic manifestations of the Spirit are never for the self-aggrandizement of those so equipped but are rather intended to accomplish God’s mission of… Read more

John Ciardi (How Does a Poem Mean?, 113)) imagines a “philosophical captain” giving his men a pre-battle pep talk: “Men of England, here at this brink of battle, let us summon to mind the triumphant image of Saint George the Dragon slayer, and with him ever in our minds as a symbol of our high heritage, let us move resolutely against the foe. Thank you.” It’s the “Thank you” that seals this – as if the captain had to beg… Read more

Some might have fondly thought that the nuttiness of the universities would stay on campus. It hasn’t happened. We all live on campus now, writes Andrew Sullivan. Concern for microaggressions has spread from campus to country: “How else do you explain how the glorious defenestration of horrific perpetrators of sexual abuse and harassment so quickly turned into a focus on an unwanted hug or an off-color remark? The whole cultural Marxist idea of a microaggression, after all, is that it’s on… Read more

Robert Frost referred to the “pleasure of taking pains” over poetry. John Ciardi, who quotes this phrase in his How Does a Poem Mean?, explains that the paradox is only apparent. Poets take pains in their work in the same way that played take pains in the game. It’s the playfulness of poetry that explains its difficulty: “Chess is a play activity, yet it is play only because the players deliberately make the game difficult in order to overcome the difficulties…. Read more

In Renewing Christian Theology, Amos Yong cautions against understanding the charismata of the New Testament church as “supernatural” gifts “in the modernist sense.” Charismatics too need their nouvelle theologie. He elaborates: “Enlightenment rationalism distinguished what behaved according to natural laws versus what was thought to happen “supernaturally” due “only to divine activity. The earliest Christians did not operate according to such a dichotomous understanding of the natural and the supernatural. Rather there are various spiritual gifts, some more charismatic (such… Read more

Toward the end of a chapter on divine simplicity in his Engaging the Doctrine of Creation, Matthew Levering favorably quotes the following what Oliva Blanchette: “Metaphysics,more than anything else in philosophy, has to do with the question of transcendence, especially the kind of transcendence that is presupposed in properly religious belief. . . . Metaphysics may not begin with any idea of God in mind, but pushed to its ultimate limit, metaphysics ends up with such an idea, as of… Read more

The topic here isn’t movies about zombies. It’s the use of dead actors in movies. Alexi Sargeant explains why digital resurrection is so creepy, using Peter Cushing’s reprise of the role of Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One as the key example. Sargeant isn’t put off by the use of digital resurrections in extremis. If an actor dies mid-production, it makes some sense to finish the film with a digitized character. Rogue One broke new ground: “There was no overwhelming… Read more

The Azusa Street Revival that launched the Pentecostal movement was accompanied by a burst of racial reconciliation. An Anglican visitors marveled: “It was something very extraordinary, that white pastors from the South were eagerly prepared to go to Los Angeles to the Negroes, to have fellowship with them and to receive through their prayers and intercessions the blessing of the Spirit. And it was still more wonderful that these white pastors went back to the South and reported to the… Read more

After His baptism, Jesus went into the wilderness to fast and to be tempted by the devil for forty days and nights. The first temptation concerned food. Jesus was the new Adam, facing a food test not in a garden but in the wilderness. Jesus was the new Israel, hungering in the desert but refusing to grumble or distrust His Father. Satan tried to get Jesus to turn stones into bread, but Jesus answered, “Man does not live by bread… Read more

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