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January 28, 2015

Today is the Feast Day of Thomas Aquinas, and by extension of all theologians. Since I already wrote about what Aquinas was up to, as a very amateur theologian, I thought I’d write a bit–very roughly–about how I see theology and the role of theology. A great start might be the phrase “Fides Quaerens Intellectum”, faith seeking understanding, Anselm’s motto, which was quickly expanded to all of Scholasticism. I heard on an Eastern Orthodox podcast that this represented a fundamentally new attitude in… Read more

January 28, 2015

Do you ever notice how at a talk when there’s a Q&A, there will always be this big, long, awkward silence before anybody stands up to ask the first question? Then the questions go fine. It’s not that people didn’t have questions. It’s that nobody wants to be the first to stand up. Have you ever been in that situation where you’re with a group, out in the street, and one of you has wandered away, and you call him to… Read more

January 27, 2015

A long long time ago I watched the play Mass Appeal, excellently acted in Paris by Jean Piat and Francis Lalanne. It is the confrontation between a popular and complacent priest and an idealistic but perhaps too rigoristic seminarian. Predictably, in the end, each realizes that they have something to learn from the other and can find a via media. The liturgical blog PrayTell has an interesting item about what seems to be a trend: most young priests today are much more “traditional” than… Read more

January 27, 2015

In a previous post about philosophy and the existence of God, I made a couple points. First, about the classical understanding of philosophy as a way of life and even, as Artur Rosman puts it, a set of spiritual exercises. Second, a useful heuristic being to look at philosophers who open up a new era as “the last of [what came before]” as much as “the first [X].” Thus, describing Descartes as the last Ancient philosopher, I wrote: Christianity unwittingly dealt a mortal blow… Read more

January 26, 2015

When it comes to the Liturgy, I’m decidedly a “conservative,” a Benedict man through and through. I want my celebrants turned ad orientem. Bring back the communion rail. Gimme Latin, gimme smells and bells. That being said, I do think that there the possibility of excess in that “direction”, an excess that can even shade into error. For example, one meme that I’ve seen not infrequently on various “reform of the reform” sites is the idea that the only allowable attitude during the liturgy, during all of… Read more

January 24, 2015

I apologize for the snarky headline, but sometimes it can’t be helped. The chair of Germany’s Martin Heidegger Society resigned in genuine horror after some of Heidegger’s private papers were released and showed that, surprise, surprise, he was an anti-semite. The immense awkwardness that is Heidegger’s Nazi affiliation is always quite a thing to behold. The simple fact of the matter is that, in terms of influence and also perhaps quality, Heidegger is a giant of 20th century philosophy, and one whose… Read more

January 24, 2015

In, I think, Atheist Delusions (my review here) David Bentley Hart makes the following argument: that all the destructive modern ideologies have one thing in common: that they view human nature as a technology that we can, and ought to, modify in order to bring about utopia. To Marxism, humanity is a social technology; to Nazism and eugenicism humanity is a racial/genetic technology; to hypercapitalism, man is a homo oeconomicus; transhumanism straightforwardly admits this (and read Hart on The Anti-Theology of the Body at least… Read more

January 24, 2015

This morning I woke up thinking about that podcast I did on the theory of penal substitutionary atonement (I don’t know how my family puts up with me). One point that was raised to me (I think by Derek) was that the Bible is very clear that there are covenant curses that accompany covenant breach, and that you can’t evacuate PSA without also evacuating those verses. In the heat of the moment, I sort of brushed that aside because I wanted to gesture towards… Read more

January 24, 2015

One frustrating aspect of theological discussion is the opposition that we too often find between dogmatic theology and biblical theology. In some quarters, the legitimacy of dogmatic theology is often questioned, with some equating dogmatic theology with philosophical theology, or even philosophy period, and wanting to “subsume” it to biblical theology. I was reminded of it by Wesley Hill’s defense of the venerable doctrine of impassibility. But here’s the thing: dogmatic theology is not a thing disconnected from the Bible. Dogmatic theology, like biblical theology, arises from… Read more

January 23, 2015

Time for your not-really-weekly roundup of my non-Patheos writing! Remember, if you want to keep abreast of all my English-language writing as it appears, you should like my Facebook Page. Will 2015 be the year the media turns against Pope Francis, The Week. Of obvious interest to this crowd. The Catholic revival starting in France, The Week. I have been to the mountaintop! Maybe. Be Charlie Hebdo, but don’t ignore Boko Haram’s atrocities, The Week. The real story behind China’s economic numbers,… Read more


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