September 5, 2018

Here are some highlights of Marjorie Garber’s essay on Richard III in Shakespeare After All. 1) Garber suggests that Richard is the “first fully realized and psychologically conceived character” in Shakespeare’s plays. Richard’s character is fully realized because he is complex, protean, chameleon and Machiavellian (cf. 3 Henry VI 3.2.191-193). Throughout the play, he speaks with two voices, a public and a private, though ultimately these voices collapse together in Richard’s schizophrenic “monologue” on Bosworth Field. 2) Garber points out that… Read more

September 4, 2018

Thomas Brodie (Genesis As Dialogue) argues that “Genesis consists of twenty-six diptychs. Building on older insights that several Genesis texts occur in pairs and that Genesis is somehow binary or dialogical, this study makes a basic observation: The entire book is composed of diptychs—accounts which, like some paintings, consist of two parts or panels.” He gives several examples: “There are . . . two panels of creation (1:1–2:24), two of primordial sin (2:25–4:16), two genealogies (4:17–chap. 5), two parts to the flood… Read more

September 3, 2018

John Wilders’s The Lost Garden attempts to discern the unified concept of the human condition that lies behind Shakespeare’s English and Roman history plays. He finds the key in the Christian doctrine of sin: The “discrepancy between an ideal past and a painful present, between the hopeful intentions of Shakespeare’s heroes and their temporary, fragile achievements, is, I believe, a way of portraying in social and political terms the theological idea of a ‘fallen’ humanity. The myth of the Fall and… Read more

August 30, 2018

President Trump started calling his Attorney General Jeff Sessions “beleaguered” months ago. Now it’s actually true. Trump made it true. Republican leaders are plotting with Trump to replace Sessions after the mid-term elections. Jerry Falwell, Jr., has raised questions about the sincerity of Sessions’s commitment to Trump’s agenda. “He’s not on the President’s team,” Falwell says. Sessions, a long-time Alabama Senator, can’t depend on support back home any more. The Alabama Congressional delegation has stopped defending him. Trump and everyone… Read more

August 29, 2018

News reports of the recent revelations about the sex scandals in the Catholic church still claim that the crisis is about “pedophilia.” It’s not, as Philip Jenkins pointed out more than twenty years ago (Pedophiles and Priests). The alliterative “pedophile priests” is rhetorically punchy but, Jenkins argued, misleading: “Both the words in question are open to controversy because they place a special construction upon the behavior: taken as a whole, the term makes the problem more serious, more dangerous, and… Read more

August 28, 2018

My wife recently hung a small painting in the master bathroom. I bought the painting some years ago during a trip to Florida. In slightly impressionistic style, it depicts a rowboat tied to a dilapidated dock. Behind the boat the sea stretches out until it meets the graying sky. When I walk down the steps into my basement, a close-up photo of a tiger’s face greets me, taken by one of my adult children. The tiger keeps a close eye… Read more

August 27, 2018

“The First Amendment’s religious liberty provisions make no sense except on the supposition that God exists – that such a thing as religious truth exists and that the commands of true religious faith are real and superior to the commands of civil society.” This is the thesis of a 2013 article in the Pepperdine Law Review article by University of St. Thomas law professor Michael Stokes Paulsen. The existence of God is the only plausible foundation for a doctrine of religious… Read more

August 23, 2018

Adam S. Miller begins his editorial introduction to Fleeing the Garden (vii-ix) by observing the confusions that surround the terms “literal” and “figurative” in biblical interpretation: “the word literal often just functions as shorthand for the claim that the text refers to something real. In such cases, the word is used without regard to how something is referenced—the designation of how a text refers being the kind of work the word literal is meant to do—and instead is used to… Read more

August 22, 2018

In her introduction to Ratzinger’s Faith, Tracey Rowland contrasts the emphases of John Paul II and those of Benedict XVI with regard to what each called the “culture of death.” Though neither is a dualist, John Paul focused more on the destruction of bodies while Benedict called attention to the destruction of souls: “John Paul II was focused on practices which completely destroy the human body or at least undermine its dignity through a severance of the good from the… Read more

August 21, 2018

One of the students at the recent Theopolis course on covenant epistemology nailed the theme of the week. It was a week-long re-initiation into childhood, led by an authoritative guide in childlikeness, Esther Meek. Covenant epistemology calls us to be childlike in our unfeigned delight in the world, childlike in our trust in reality, childlike in our vulnerability to what the world brings our way, childlike in our willingness to risk a venture of knowing, childlike in responsiveness, childlike in… Read more

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