Wise as serpents

From Francis Bacon’s De Augmentis Scientiarum , 7.1: “For as the fable goes of the basilisk, that if he sees you first, you die for it, but if you see him first, he dies; so itis with deceits, impostures, and evil arts, which, if they be first espied, they lose their life, but if they . . . . Continue Reading »

Brownson on Social Contract

Orestes Brownson has some sharp insights on the purposes and effects of social contract theory as developed by early modern theorists. He recognizes that Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau have detached social contract ideas from their original mooring in Christian thought and “abused the phrase . . . . Continue Reading »


Poetry is a concentrated excess of language. Concentrated because it always means more than it says. Excessive because it always says more than it needs to say, because in many cases it need not be said at all. Concentration: “The Lord is my shepherd” unlatches a window on an . . . . Continue Reading »


Thinking about Plato’s Crito, it again strikes me that NOMOS is closer to what our “culture” than to “law.” If Paul is entering into a Greek debate about NOMOS (as well, of course, as a Jewish one), then he’s critiquing the notion that justice can be achieved . . . . Continue Reading »

Proverbs 8

CONTEXT AND STRUCTURE Proverbs 8 follows Proverbs 7. In chapter 7, Solomon records the speech of Lady Folly, the adulteress, who entices the simple to her house for a night of love-making. In chapter 8, Solomon records the speech of Lady Wisdom, who offers herself as the means to rule, honor, and . . . . Continue Reading »

Circulation of opinion

Last week, The New Republic posted a lengthy article by Jerry Coyne on Intelligent Design (ID) on its web site, along with a brief piece by Leon Wieseltier. Yesterday, the local paper carried a brief excerpt from the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch, claiming that ID should be recognized as veiled . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon Outline, August 21

INTRODUCTION According to Ephesians, the gospel is about God’s formation of a new humanity. This is true in two senses: First, in Jesus, the Last Adam, believers are made new Adams and Eves; and, second, in Jesus the divided human race is united into a new family, the temple of God. THE TEXT . . . . Continue Reading »

Violence and counter-violence

Milbank argues that, given its ontology of violence, paganism can only respond to violence with a counter-violence of its own. Political and social thus do not rest on peaceful donation or harmony but on the threat and actual practice of violence. This view could be refined by introducing . . . . Continue Reading »

Christian speech

Robert Louis Wilken has a very fine piece on the “church’s way of speaking” in the Aug/Sept issue of First Things. He points out that the church’s faith is not merely “doctrinal propositions, creedal affirmations, and moral codes” but “a world of discourse . . . . Continue Reading »

Christian Scholarship

Kierkegaard: “Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close . . . We would be sunk if it were not for Christian scholarship! Priase be to everyone who . . . . Continue Reading »