Renaissance Self-Criticism

What characterizes the Renaissance sensibility of the self? Two things, perhaps: First: not the playing of roles, but the consciousness of playing roles, the consciousness that creates an ironic distance between role and role-player. Richard II is entirely expressed in his assigned role; Henry V . . . . Continue Reading »

Primer on Litcrit

New Critics, Feminists Phenomenology; Reader-Response critics Need no apology. There are Formalists of Russia, Structuralists of France. Give Archetypal Critics More than a glance. Marxists are strange birds, Like Speech-Act Theorists. And yet there’s no doubt Which theory is Queerest. . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon Outline

INTRODUCTION Joash’s story is an ironic tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions. His reign begins well, with a dramatic and surprising renewal of the Davidic line, and he pays his dues by repairing the temple. Before the end of his life, he loots the very temple he has repaired. THE TEXT . . . . Continue Reading »

Eucharistic meditation, Sixth Epiphany

2 Kings 11:1: When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she rose and destroyed all the royal seed. At the beginning, the story of Athaliah appears to be the story of the destruction of the house of David. Athaliah kills all the royal seed, and it appears that the house of David . . . . Continue Reading »

Baptism Meditation, Sixth After Epiphany

2 Kings 11:3: So Joash was hidden with her in the house of Yahweh six years, while Athaliah was reigning over the land. The story in the sermon today is the story of two kingdoms, two rulers, two reigns. One is open, public, evident to everyone who reads the newspapers. It is a kingdom of blood, . . . . Continue Reading »

Exhortation, Sixth After Epiphany

Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, knew she had to protect herself. She was related to the Davidic line only by marriage, and knew that many in Judah would be suspicious of her. A live Davidic prince could become the focal point for a revolt that would topple her from power. So she made sure . . . . Continue Reading »

Shakespeare and Puritans

Jeffrey Knapp suggests that, though Shakespeare was probably raised a Catholic, he chose to conform to the established religion but without taking a high profile at church. In a comment that rings true, Knapp suggests that above all Shakespeare “deplored sectarianism. Shakespeare’s . . . . Continue Reading »

Eye for Eye

Athaliah the murderous mother is undone by Jehosheba the protective mother. To be specific: Athaliah renounces her blood ties with her grandchildren and slaughters the royal seed (2 Kings 11). Jehosheba renounces her blood ties with her own mother, Athaliah, and saves the royal seed. Wicked family . . . . Continue Reading »


Sennett again: “The number of men aged fifty-five to sixty-four at work in the United States has dropped from nearly 80 percent in 1970 to 65 percent in 1990.” Trends are similar in Western Europe. Older workers are often downsized, perceived as inflexible deadwood, too critical of . . . . Continue Reading »

Economy of ingratitude

To return to one of my recent obsessions: The flexible economy described by Sennett seems inimical to the cultivation of gratitude, one of the key components or grounds of loyalty. Employers have various sorts of incentives (stock prices, meeting market demands with flexible specializations) to . . . . Continue Reading »