Two central motifs which shape John Donne’s Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward make the poem challenging for contemporary readers: cosmology and liturgy. To some degree, they are a single motif, as the poem seems to argue. The poem, a meditation on the Crucifixion and the narrator’s spiritual condition, is set in the context of the motion … Continue reading Direction in Donne’s Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward
Last week, I mentioned what will not be taken from us if we choose what is better: “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). Here is how Thomas Aquinas puts it in his mediation on the relationship between the Contemplative and Active life: Sometimes a … Continue reading Thomas’s Take on Life Interrupted
One of the most charming moments of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit takes place at Beorn’s farm when Gandalf tells his host their tale. By twos and threes, the dwarves intrude, interrupting Gandalf’s narrative. In part, this is intended to soften the blow of fourteen unexpected visitors arriving all at once. Yet for a moment, one might wonder if … Continue reading Tolkien on How to Tell (Interrupt) a Story
If we want to talk about the immortality of the soul, we are immediately confronted with all kinds of problems. For instance, we not only have to decide whether the soul dies, but what death is, that is if we want to rationally examine this question! But further, we already have put the question problematically. … Continue reading Speaking, Not Easy: On Immortality
Whether all knowledge requires faith? Objection 1: It seems that all knowledge requires faith because faith is to be the rule and measure of our entire life and conduct. Knowledge falls under human life; therefore, it must come under its proper rule, faith. Objection 2: We know that our perceptions can be faulty; therefore, … Continue reading Whether all Knowledge Requires Faith?
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8). What business do we have studying the liberal arts? The quadrivium and trivium? Why should Christians take an interest in philosophy, in … Continue reading Vain Philosophy and Christian Learning
This idea of this twofold aspect of beauty–that it is simultaneously objective and subjective–is not something new, but is found both in Thomas and Aristotle. Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics opens with the claim that the good is that which all men seem to aim at. He goes on to clarify that it is only the virtuous … Continue reading Beauty as Subjective, II
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). This is a difficult verse. If we read it as a proclamation of tit-for-tat justice on earth, or even with the expectation that we can always discern the purposes … Continue reading All Things Work Together for Good?
from a talk given at New College Franklin in the Fall of 2013 Main Texts: Homer’s Odyssey, Book 8, lines 42-45, 62-94, 483-499, 521-534 Homer’s Iliad, Book VI, lines 440-465 My goal in giving this talk is to inspire wonder and excitement about the program of study here, to encourage intellectual enthusiasm. With this goal … Continue reading A Question of the Liberal Arts: Why is Song a Gift from the Gods?
A friend recently gave me a Star Wars button with the the phrase “I find that answer vague and unconvincing.” While wearing it at school the other day, I realized that a large part of my job is communicating this to students, helping them see why it is the case, and what a sufficient answer … Continue reading Vague and Unconvincing