Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Body and Society




Death was a catastrophe that no contemplation of the universe could soften. And, in explaining death as the punishment of Adam, Augustine gave the Christian laity of his time an explanation of death that was at least as melodramatic as death itself was shocking. Yet, in so doing, he caused the cosmos (that majestic and consoling source of high vision to so many ancient people of all religions) to fade for many centuries. Historians of the Early Christian church in all its regions must reckon that the eclipse of the cosmos (though never complete in Latin Christianity) may have been a heavy price to pay for the emergence of the distinctive features of ‘the Christian West’. Anyone who turns from the writings of Augustine and Gregory the Great to the majestic cosmic backdrop still implied in the writings of John Climacus, Maximus the Confessor, and the later Hesychasts senses immediately that the Western version of Christianity is strangely flat, focused, with little relief, on the greatness and misery of the human condition alone.


~Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, & Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Quotes of Note


“It is very likely that within fifty years when all the trivial, verbose disputes about the meaning of Teilhard’s ‘unfortunate’ vocabulary will have died away or have taken a secondary place, Teilhard will appear like John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, as the spiritual genius of the twentieth century.” 
- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, in his 1967 book FOOTPRINTS IN A DARKENED FOREST

Monday, January 01, 2018

Whither the Extended Synthesis?

I missed this confab at Oxford back in July of this past year, but this brief conversation between Fraser Watts, Michael Ruse and others is one I want to come back to, either here or at my Forbes blog.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Michael Ruse and Teleology

My review of Michael Ruse's new book from Princeton University Press, at the Wall Street Journal.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Quotable Darwin

Fans of Janet Browne's epic two-volume biography of Charles Darwin will not want to miss her new book, The Quotable Darwin (Princeton University Press), which features a broad selection of Darwin's personal and professional observations on life, liberty, and of course science.

Read more at Forbes...

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A New Galileo Book...

...which I reviewed recently at Forbes. I met Fr. Scotti at Portsmouth Abbey School some years back, and am happy I was able to help him bring his book to the attention of the folks at Ignatius.

Friday, February 17, 2017

David Bentley Hart on the limits of natural law theory


"In abstraction from specific religious or metaphysical traditions, there really is very little that natural law theory can meaningfully say about the relative worthiness of the employments of the will. There are, of course, generally observable facts about the characteristics of our humanity (the desire for life and happiness, the capacity for allegiance and affinity, the spontaneity of affection for one’s family) and about the things that usually conduce to the fulfillment of innate human needs (health, a well-ordered family and polity, sufficient food, aesthetic bliss, a sense of spiritual mystery, leisure, and so forth); and if we all lived in a Platonic or Aristotelian or Christian intellectual world, in which everyone presumed some necessary moral analogy between the teleology of nature and the proper objects of the will, it would be fairly easy to connect these facts to moral prescriptions in ways that our society would find persuasive. We do not live in such a world, however." 

--From his 'Back Page' essay in the March 2013 issue of First Things.