Reign of Appearances

Mention the “public,” and you’re liable to be greeted with lamentation and hand-wringing. Citizenship isn’t what it used to be. No one participates in public events any more. Once upon a time, we were active citizens. Now we bowl alone and we participate in public life only as passive spectators. Democracy is dying, if it’s not already dead. Ari Adut’s Reign of Appearances argues, bracingly, that the lamentation and hand-wringing is misplaced. It arises from a fundamental misunderstanding of the… Read more

Structure of Isaiah

The following summarizes the structural analysis of Isaiah found in David Dorsey’s Literary Structyre of the Old Testament. Like most of the books of the Old Testament, Dorsey finds that Isaiah is organized in a sevenfold pattern: A.Condemnation, pleading, promise of future restoration, 1:1-12: B. Oracles to the nations, 13:1-26:21 C. Woes, 27:1-35:10 D. Historical narrative, 36:1-39:8 C’. Yahweh triumphs over idols, 40:1-48:22 B’. Servant Songs, 49:1-54:17 A’. Condemnation, pleading, promise of future restoration, 55:1-66:24 There are close linkages between… Read more

Immanuel

The king of Judah is panicked, and all Jerusalem with him (Isaiah 7). Judah has been invaded by the combined armies of Pekiah, King of Israel, and Rezin, King of Aram. They have come against Jerusalem and are besieging it, but they cannot conquer it. But they’ve spooked the whole city. Everyone is scared, and the hearts of the people and the king shake like the trees of the forest shake when the wind blows. Israel and Aram are unlikely… Read more

Liberalism In Retreat

Edward Luce (Retreat of Western Liberalism) can’t quite believe he’s saying what he’s saying. It feels like heresy, treason. How can a convinced liberal bring himself to talk about liberalism’s retreat or demise? “To a person whose life has coincided with the rise of democracy, the spread of market economics and signs that the world had finally subscribed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights . . . merely to pose the question is troubling enough. Wasn’t that debate settled… Read more

Judah’s Pride

Isaiah’s name – “Yah saves” – is reassuring, and his message of rescue and salvation is a reassuring message because during Isaiah’s time, Judah needs saving, and they need saving again and again. There are many evils in Judah but more than other prophets of Israel and Judah Isaiah exposes the underlying attitudes that shape the actions and lives of the people of Judah. When Yahweh looks at their hearts, He sees pride, loftiness, arrogance. Yahweh is planning a day of reckoning against… Read more

Structure in 2 Chronicles 18

2 Chronicles 18 is the story of Ahab and Jehoshaphat’s war with the Arameans at Ramoth-gilead. The battle occupies only a brief portion at the end. Most of the chapter is taken up with the kings’ consultation of prophets. After a brief introduction, the bulk of the chapter consists of complexly shifting verbal exchanges between different characters. 1.King to king, vv. 3-4 (Ahab, Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat). Ahab asks Jehoshaphat to join his war, Jehoshaphat agrees and then asks to inquire of… Read more

Losing Control

In The Breaking of Nations, Robert Cooper observes that “the spread of the technology of mass destruction represents a potentially massive redistribution of power away from the advanced industrial (and democratic) states towards smaller states that may be less stable and have less of a stake in an orderly world” (viii-ix). More frighteningly, “it may represent a redistribution of power away from the state itself and towards individuals, that is to say terrorists and criminals. If proliferation were to take… Read more

Socrates or Swine

Our entertainment-drenched culture is a reflection of the colonizing power of liberalism. Liberalism is a drive for unlimited freedom, and any inequality or hierarchy stands in the way. Even the distinction between superior and inferior ways of life is anti-liberal. As Ryszard Legutko puts it (Demon in Democracy), liberalism demands a “minimalist anthropology,” one that makes no thick assumptions about human aspirations, values, ends, or purposes. Society exists to facilitate the satisfaction of the most basic needs of human beings…. Read more

Force and Matter

“All that exists consists of force and matter,” says atheistic materialism. Very well, replies Vladimir Solovyev (Lectures on Godmanhood, 81-2). Let’s assume that is true and see where it leads. “Force” and “matter,” he points out, are :very general conceptions”: “We speak of physical forces, we speak of spiritual forces. Forces of either kind can be real. In agreeing with materialism further, that forces cannot exist by themselves, but necessarily belong to certain real units or atoms, which represent the… Read more

Not the End of History

Few accepted at face value the inflated claim that 1989 brought us to the “end of history” (Fukuyama), where democratic capitalism was left with an ideological monopoly. Still, many operated on the assumption that globalized trade would make the world more peaceful and democratic. It hasn’t happened. History continues despite theorizing to the contrary. In particular, the hope that the world would soon adopt Western or American ways hasn’t come true. John Gray (False Dawn) notes that “A global free… Read more

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