Table Manners and Individualism

Elias notes that table manners reflect social relations more generally: “People who ate together in the way customary in the Middle Ages, taking meat with their fingers from the same dish, wine from the same goblet, soup from the same pot or the same plate . . . - such people stood in a . . . . Continue Reading »

The Blasphemous Fork

Elias again: “In the eleventh century a Venetian doge married a Greek princess. In her Byzantine circle the fork was clearly in use. At any rate, we hear that she lifted food to her mouth ‘by means of little gold forks with two prongs.’ “This gave rise in Venice to a . . . . Continue Reading »

Middle Class Counter-Enlightenment

Elias suggests that the blossoming of German literature in the late 18th century was largely led by middle-class writers and thinkers whose tastes and styles ran directly counter to the Francophile culture of Frederick’s court: “This German literary movement, whose exponents included . . . . Continue Reading »

Barbarous Shakespeare

A couple of weeks ago, I quoted Frederick the Great’s judgment that Shakespeare’s plays were fit only for “savages of Canada,” what with their “jumble of lowliness and grandeur, of buffoonery and tragedy,” their sins “against all the rules of the theatre, . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon notes

INTRODUCTION John’s gospel is about the character of God: He proclaims that God is light, and has no darkness at all (1:5). This gospel comes with the demand to walk in the light (1:6). What does that mean? THE TEXT “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, . . . . Continue Reading »

Eucharistic meditation

1 John 1:1: What our hands have handled. We often think fondly of how wonderful it would have been to be alive in Palestine when Jesus was around. We wouldn’t have to believe on the testimony of anyone else. We could have seen all those miracles with our own eyes. We wouldn’t have to . . . . Continue Reading »


At the beginning of his epistle, John emphasizes the eyewitness testimony of the apostles. They preach about things that they have seen and heard with their own ears and eyes, things they have touched. Since we haven’t done any of that, we rely on their testimony, and that is troublesome for . . . . Continue Reading »

Sunrise, sunset

Some thoughts on the sun/light symbolism in Genesis, inspired by a number of fine student papers on the subject. 1) The symbolism is set up in the first day of creation. Creation’s original state is dark, formless, and empty; and the work of creation produces a world that is bright, ordered, . . . . Continue Reading »

Petreides’ Hamartia

An epic poem by my son Christian. Sing goddess, of the procrastination of Peter’s son Christian and its devastation, which put pains thousandfold upon his GPA, hurled in its glory to the house of hated C’s, and his strong soul of a hero quailed at the thought of the righteous punishment . . . . Continue Reading »