October 28, 2018

Alan Jacobs has recently (How To Think) used CS Lewis’s essay on the “Inner Ring” to explain what has happened to political discourse in the US. Lewis began his essay by citing a passage from Tolstoy, which revealed an informal hierarchy, an “inner ring,” within the overt organizational structures of the Russian army. He provided a sketch of the phenomenon from Tolstoy’s description: “The [informal hierarchy] is not printed anywhere. Nor is it even a formally organised secret society with… Read more

October 26, 2018

A brief overview of key elements of the thought of Rene Girard. Mimetic desire. Desire isn’t individual; it doesn’t emerge from isolated individuals. It’s mimetic. We desire what we see others desiring. This is the basis for the advertising industry; it’s obvious in any day care center, when children try to play with toys that other children are playing with; it’s evident in many of the romantic stories of Western literature (from Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale to Shakespeare and on). Models, the… Read more

October 26, 2018

A brief, sketchy outline applying the quadriga to various topics of Leviticus. The quadriga. Fourfold sense: Literal, allegorical, tropological, anagogical. Examples: Jerusalem; David and Goliath. Strengths *Implies a Christology, an ecclesiology, an ethics, and an eschatology *Allegory and tropology. *Faith, hope, love built into hermeneutical. Quadrigizing the sanctuary. Literal: *Zones and furnishings, according to the pattern (Exodus 25:40). *God’s house. *Tent of appointment. Allegory: What we believe *Christ tabernacled in flesh. *Christ the temple. *Ruin and raising of temple. Tropology:… Read more

October 23, 2018

With Saudi Arabia in the news following the murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi, there’s an opening for rethinking the US relation with Saudi. The following is an excerpt from my 2012 Between Babel and Beast. Numbers and details may be somewhat outdated, but the main points stand. In August 2011, the Pew Research Center released a report on global restrictions on religion.  The Pew analysis divided restrictions on religious liberty into two categories. The analysis analyzes governmental efforts to control… Read more

October 22, 2018

Gotta love Mary Midgley. She died on October 10 of this year, a month after her 99th birthday. To the end, she did philosophy with a rare degree of common sense and wit. She begins The Myths We Live By, published when she was a mere octogenarian, by explaining how myths function in science, and provides a light takedown of the obsession with machine imagery: “machine imagery, which began to pervade our thought in the seventeenth century, is still potent… Read more

October 18, 2018

Martyrdom is the true resistance to the powers and principalities that rule in heavenly places. Witnesses broke the old creation order. Martyrs shattered the Roman world, so that God’s throne was set up in Europe and began shaking things. Early Christians were witnesses against the religious foundations of Rome. Rome existed because of a “social contract” between gods and Romans; as long as the Romans honored their gods, the gods would give Rome success. Christians broke the social contract by… Read more

October 17, 2018

There were, of course, varieties of Enlightenment, some more favorable to tradition than others, but what Jonathan Israel has called the “Radical Enlightenment” won, and they were the most hostile to traditional social and political forms. The Radical Enlightenment was committed to absolute freedom – from the past, from limits, from anything that stood in the way of critical reason. As Adam Ferguson, a moderate rationalist, saw it, the radical enlighteners were like “an ambitious architect who aspires to tear… Read more

October 16, 2018

God speaks and light appears. He separates light and darkness, assigns names to each, and judges the whole to be good. Next day, He’s at it again, speaking, separating, assessing, judging. And so it goes throughout the days of creation: With an insistent, incantatory rhythm, God speaks, sees, names, judges. Poetic yes, but more fundamentally, creation unfolds as the enacted poetry of liturgy. From the first pages of Scripture, before we know much of anything about God, we know He’s… Read more

October 15, 2018

Jean-Marie Schaeffer (Art of the Modern Age: Philosophy of Art from Kant to Heidegger (New French Thought Series) has a blast pointing out the contradictions in Kant’s aesthetics. Most of them arise from Kant’s insistence that the judgment of taste is founded on “the form of a finality” that excludes any specific end. That is, aesthetic judgment responds to the sheer form of finality, not to any particular purpose of the object judged. This is in a sense just a teleological… Read more

October 11, 2018

John Rawls begins his Theory of Justice with what he describes as a “standard” social-scientific concept of rationality: “a rational person is thought to have a coherent set of preferences between the options open to him. He ranks these options according to how well they further his purposes; he follows the plan which will satisfy more of his desires rather than less, and which has the greater chance of being successfully executed” (25). But there is one deviation from the… Read more

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