Baptism and personhood

In his recently re-released Bioethics: A Primer for Christians , Gilbert Meilaender discusses baptism to formulate a Christian understanding of the person. Baptism, he points out, is a communal act but also individualizing: “the first thing to note about baptism is that it is a deeply . . . . Continue Reading »

Allegory with Venus and Cupid

In his book, Erotic Faith , Robert M. Polhemus offers an intriguing analysis of Bronzino’s Allegory with Venus and Cupid . The allegory suggests that “worship of Venus . . . blinds one to the menace of time and death.” Seeking sexual fulfillment means “betraying self, God, . . . . Continue Reading »

Mirror and Lamp

In his classic study of romanticism and literary theory, The Mirror and the Lamp , MH Abrams points out the crucial change in images of the mind - from the mind as a “mirror” of outside reality to the mind as a “lamp” or a “fountain” that determines what it . . . . Continue Reading »

Consumption v. Culture

Hannah Arendt claimed that “An object is cultural depending on the duration of its permanence: its durable character is opposed to its functional aspect, that aspect which would make it disappear from the phenomenal world through use and wear and tear . . . . Culture finds itself under threat . . . . Continue Reading »

Shakespeare and the Law

At the climactic moment of reversal in the court scene in Merchant of Venice , Portia tells Shylock: “This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood.” “Jot” comes to English through the Greek iota , which is linked to the Hebrew YOD through Jesus’ usage in Matthew 5. At . . . . Continue Reading »

Eucharistic meditation, Fourth Advent

John 6:35: Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. Throughout the centuries, Christians have thought about the Lord’s Supper by analogy with the incarnation. Just as God became man in Jesus, so the bread . . . . Continue Reading »

Baptismal meditation, Fourth Advent

Luke 2:6-7: And it came to pass that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Christmas is a particularly . . . . Continue Reading »

Exhortation, Fourth Advent

Christmas is a joyful season, but for many it turns into something else. Instead of joy, it is full of disappointment and unhappiness. Instead of an occasion for family fellowship, it becomes an opportunity for opening old wounds, reigniting old arguments, giving new life to rancor that should have . . . . Continue Reading »

The Island

In many ways, The Island is a silly movie: Long, repetitive, boring chase scenes, inexplicable explosions, impossible escapes, gaping holes in the plot, all filmed with MTV quick-cuts and apparently lit with strobe lights. Somewhere on the far side of the silliness, however, is a welcome indictment . . . . Continue Reading »