Essay / September 15, 2021

To end poverty

On Karl Marx, Jesus Christ, and politics.

Sweeping, one-sided generalizations are not exactly hard to come by. In Canada our politicians regularly sound off indiscriminately on subjects which, simply put, cannot be adequately addressed in a pithy phrase or soundbite. Even if we understand that certain issues are incredibly complex, however, democratic-representative politics in the twenty-first century frequently seems to demand ready-made, often merely symbolic answers to pressing questions. >>>

Blog / September 1, 2021

Isaiah’s vision

Reading the Book of Isaiah en français.

The Book of Isaiah opens (1:1) in such a way as to indicate its genre—it is a book of visions, révélations reçues. Isaiah, to whom these revelations are given, is the “son of Amoz.” What he sees concerns “Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah”. All of this indicates that these pronouncements were given to the prophet Isaiah by God in a particular setting: the onset of Israel’s defeat, exile, and captivity. To fully grasp the significance of this setting demands an attentive familiarity with the story and symbols of Israel more generally. >>>

Photography /
Blog / August 25, 2021

Instances of ideology

On GraceLife Church.

In a recent post I criticized an assertion made by Claus Westermann in his justly-famous commentary on the Book of Genesis. In that work he insists that fallibility is anthropologically basic. While I do in fact agree with this claim for what are ultimately phenomenological reasons—something I obviously can’t justify here1 —I took umbrage with the way he framed it. He attempted to safeguard the notion of fallibility by placing it beyond the reach of ideology, presumably hiding it somewhere in the murky mists of immutability. In contrast, I drew upon Aristotle and Hegel and Clifford Geertz to offer a brief rebuttal, one which eschews the assumption that we can ever fully leave our political-cultural concepts behind. >>>

Blog / April 2, 2021

What is this that you have done?

On Genesis, anthropology, and ideology.

After Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the “LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” … “What is this that you have done?”” Reading the first chapters of Genesis in the context of the Pentateuch as a whole, which many recent scholarly commentators suggest doing, we can hear the tone of these questions as expressing the empathetic disappointment of a parent. >>>

Photography /
Essay / March 8, 2021

The passion and the prose

On E. M. Forster, Charles Taylor, and the politics of literature.

On what basis do we reach out and connect with one another as persons? Is there any link between our social and cultural place, so to speak, and our ability to form an intimate, authentic relationship with another human being? The most straightforward answer to the second question is “yes.” Our milieu and our mentalité and our mingling are bound basically together. >>>

Essay / February 15, 2021

That monstrous paradox

On Genesis, Kierkegaard, and the historical task of living.

In Fear and Trembling (1843) the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, writing under one of his many pseudonyms, “Johannes de silentio,” strongly objected to contemporary understandings of religious faith as impoverished, mistaken, and inept. Like many of Kierkegaard’s writings, this work is explicitly aesthetic. In being a “dialectical lyric,” as the subtitle puts it, it is intended to provoke and stupefy—like “a rhetorical shower-bath.” >>>

Review / February 1, 2021

A sudden disintegration

OnThe Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America (2017), by Frances Fitzgerald.

The 1960s was a decade of momentous change in American history. John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, was elected and then assassinated; Bible-reading and prayer were banned in schools as a result of two important Supreme Court cases; full and legally protected citizenship was secured for African Americans by the civil rights acts of 1964 and 1965. What’s more, these events took place against a menacing backdrop: the Cold War. >>>

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