Dylan, Merton, and Maritain

Joseph Frank closes his review of two recent books on Maritain and early 20th century Catholicism with this charming scene: “Maritain returned for a last visit to the United States in 1966 to say farewell to old friends and to visit the grave of his sister-in-law Vera buried in Princeton. At . . . . Continue Reading »

Baptismal meditation, Fifth After Epiphany

2 Kings 10:16: And Jehu said, Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord. Jehu leads a bloody revolution that overthrows the house of Ahab. He kills Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah. He has Jezebel killed, and orders the decapitation of 70 sons of Ahab. He slaughters 42 members of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Exhortation, Fifth After Epiphany

As Jehu marched toward the capital city of Samaria, he encountered 42 men from the house of David. Jehu took them alive, killed them at a pit at a place called Beth-eked, and then continued on toward Samaria. This incident gives us pause. Jehu was anointed to be the avenger against the house of . . . . Continue Reading »

Actors and poets

Derek Jacobi wrote a foreword for a new Oxfordian biography of Edward de Vere, suggesting that de Vere wrote the plays because the plays were written by an actor and de Vere was an actor. Say what? The TLS reviewer notes that Shakespeare, alone among all the suggested authors of the plays, was an . . . . Continue Reading »

Dumb show

John Dover Wilson puzzles over Hamlet, Act 3, where Claudius is apparently unaffected by the dumb show that re-enacts his murder of Hamlet, Sr. Dover Wilson concludes that Claudius must have been distracted during the dumb show, and missed it. Dramatically, that may work. Thematically, the . . . . Continue Reading »

Pure Father, Pure Son

In the course of demonstrating that Christ is not a creature, Athanasius pointed to the difference between human and divine fatherhood and sonship. Human sons have the potential to become fathers, and often do become fathers. But God the Father is unbegotten, and God the Son begets no other. That . . . . Continue Reading »

Kant and the Creator

In her brilliant book, Evil in Modern Thought , Susan Neiman summarizes Kant’s epistemology as torn between two themes: One, Kant’s insistence that our knowledge is not God’s knowledge, and that we should be content with finitude; two, that we still want to be God, and that this . . . . Continue Reading »

Machiavelli to Descartes

Machiavelli offered a practical politics that emphasized image over reality: “it is not necessary for a prince to have all of the above-mentioned qualities, but it is very necessary for him to appear to have them. Furthermore, I will be so bold as to assert this: that practicing them, that . . . . Continue Reading »

Eucharistic Epistemology

“Denken ist danken.” I’ve repeated Heidegger’s axiom a number of times, but what makes this true? One angle: Our thoughts are distorted by fear, bitterness, hatred, anger, frustration, discontent, envy. But thankfulness is a solvent of all these; the thankful man cannot be . . . . Continue Reading »