November 1, 2003

Thinking is an odd sort of enterprise. It is spaceless, yet it has certain features of spatiality. For instance: I puzzle over an issue for weeks, making virtually no progress, and then read a billboard or see a preview on a video I’ve rented, and suddenly things fall into place. I feel as if I’ve reached a peak, and can see the valley and horizon beyond that has been hidden from me. All of a sudden, things move pretty rapidly,… Read more

November 1, 2003

In many respects, the issues in the current “Auburn Avenue” debate are not at all new to the Reformed world. There have been differences concerning sacramental efficacy, apostasy, antinomian/neonomianism, and other related issues. What reasons do we have to hope that this time things will be more fully resolved this time around? The main one I see is this: The Auburn Avenue debate comes at a time of larger cultural transition. However much postmodernism is in continuity with modernism (and… Read more

October 31, 2003

Perhaps Sigurd, like Orestes, marks the beginning of a new order. Before Sigurd, the only absolute loyalties in the world of the Volsungs were family loyalties, loyalties of blood. Signy has no loyalty to her husband and encourages Sigmund to kill her sons. But Sigurd seems as loyal to his wife and his love for Brunhyld. Maybe. Also, note the analogies between the Danish prince Hamlet and the Volsungs: Each Volsung hero begins his heroic life by avenging his father’s… Read more

October 31, 2003

Perhaps Sigurd, like Orestes, marks the beginning of a new order. Before Sigurd, the only absolute loyalties in the world of the Volsungs were family loyalties, loyalties of blood. Signy has no loyalty to her husband and encourages Sigmund to kill her sons. But Sigurd seems as loyal to his wife and his love for Brunhyld. Maybe. Also, note the analogies between the Danish prince Hamlet and the Volsungs: Each Volsung hero begins his heroic life by avenging his father’s… Read more

October 31, 2003

In Italy, there is a raging debate over a judge’s ruling that crucifixes need to be removed from schools. Seems that Europe, where religion (or religions) is still often a part of government education and where state churches still exist, is beginning to play catch up with American secularism. Read more

October 31, 2003

In the introduction to his translation of the Volsung Saga, Jesse Byock points out that the scene of Sigurd slaying the dragon was employed on numerous churches throughout Scandinavian countries. The Christological dimensions of a dragon-slayer are obvious, but there is even more going on with Sigurd: He not only kills the dragon and gains the treasure, but also, by eating the heart of the dragon, is able to understand bird speech. In short, he becomes something more than a… Read more

October 30, 2003

In an essay on “The Hermeneutics of Difference” in a volume edited by Merold Westphal, Garrett Green offers this helpful summary of Derrida’s conception of supplement: “The fundamental hermeneutical situation in which we all find ourselves as users of signs, which Derrida indicates by the word DIFFERANCE, means that no text can ever be complete or self-sufficient, which in turn implies that every text stands in need of a supplement. For a supplement expresses what CANNOT be said in the… Read more

October 30, 2003

From Dr. Johnson’s dictionary, a definition of “Oats”: “A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” Read more

October 30, 2003

In his book “Is There A Meaning in This Text?” Kevin Vanhoozer explains Derrida’s dictum that “there is nothing outside the text” by saying that everything is part of a signifying system or classification system that is constituted by differences. He offers this illuminating illustration: “a Ford has its particular connotations because it is part of a signifying system that includes Yugos, Peugots, and Jaguars. The ‘meaning’ of a Ford Escort is constituted by its differences from other cars (including… Read more

October 30, 2003

Postmodern tragedy is also rooted in Freud: For Freud, the id desires but is blocked and opposed by the superego. The ego negotiates, and finds ways for the id to express itself without violating the standards of the superego. This is reasonable, submission to the reality principle. But it is also tragic, because desires cannot be fulfilled. Civilization requires superego and suppression of id, but civilization is inherently tragic. Read more

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