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

October 10, 2018

Ben Cobley’s The Tribe  is a detailed, sobering examination of the left-liberal system of identity politics. Cobley, a leftwing journalist, describes a diversity “system.” The system is founded on a division of the population between favored and unfavored groups, identified by race, sex and sexual orientation, age, religion, class, wealth, etc. Well-placed managers and brokers (often white and male) act as adminstrators on behalf of favored groups, and use their clout to bludgeon members of unfavored groups when they say or... Read more

October 9, 2018

John the Baptist is like a sacrificial victim, a Passover lamb, innocently slaughtered (Matthew 14). In the next periscope, Jesus performs a food miracle, the first such miracle in Matthew. It is a Passover meal, as well as manna in the wilderness. Following the meal, Jesus’ disciples get into a boat to cross the sea, but begin to founder. They are “afflicted,” a word that connotes “torture,” but Jesus appears and brings them to safety. This is clearly an Exodus... Read more

October 8, 2018

Some observations on the final chapter of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 36). In the previous chapter, the Chronicler records the death of Josiah, which is effectively the end of the Davidic monarchy. Chapter 36 records the rapid disintegration of the kingdom, the brief reigns of his sons, the subjection of Judah first to Egypt and then to Babylon, finally the decree of Cyrus. 1) The reign of Jehoiakim (36:5-8), Neco’s puppet, is recounted in a chiastic paragraph: A. He was 25... Read more

October 4, 2018

R. R. Reno offers an incisive analysis of the “rage politics” surrounding the Kavanaugh confirmation. He suggests that it’s class rage, focused on sex. That’s not a surprise, since the sexual revolution is by far the most enduring legacy of the social revolution at the middle of the last century. The rage against Kavanaugh is, he speculates, a class rage, proportionate to socio-economic status: “It is an elite rage of law professors and management consultants. It’s the rage of the... Read more

October 3, 2018

The Chronicler’s account of Josiah’s reign is glowingly positive. He seeks Yahweh, purges idolatry from Jerusalem, Judah, and the temple, listens to the word of the Lord, leads a covenant renewal, and throw an unprecedented Passover celebration. But there’s a subtle counter-melody running along behind the surface song of triumph. It tells the story of Josiah’s reign as a recapitulation of the history of Israel – in reverse. Consider: 1) Josiah purges the land of idolatry (2 Chronicles 34:1-7). It’s... Read more

October 2, 2018

I expressed some disagreements and some commendations for Seth Postell’s Adam as Israel a few days ago. Here I sum up some more of Postell’s insights. 1) He takes the description of the serpent in 3:1 as a positive description: He is “more prudent” (Heb. ‘arom) than all the beasts. that contrasts to the eventual judgment on the serpent, “more cursed than all the creatures of the field” (3:14). Postell observes, “God did not make a ‘crafty’ creature; he made... Read more

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