Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama, and an adjunct Senior Fellow at New St. Andrews College. He is author, most recently, of Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor).

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Exhortation, Sixth After Epiphany

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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 »

Age

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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 »

Flextime

From Leithart

Sennett claims that the apparent decentralization of power in flexible organizations is only apparent. In fact, power remains concentrated in the hands of top level managers, often enhanced by the surveillance capabilities of contemporary technologies. The actual practice of flextime illustrates . . . . Continue Reading »

Downsizing

From Leithart

Sennett summarizes a study from the early 1990s done by the American Management Association, which found that “repeated downsizings produce ‘lower profits and declining worker productivity.’” The study found “less than half the companies achieved their experience . . . . Continue Reading »

Cultural Contradictions of Flexible Capitalism

From Leithart

As Richard Sennett points out in his stimulating book, The Corrosion of Character , Marx was not the first to suggest that the factory system was dehumanizing and alienating. Nor was Daniel Bell first to spot the effects of capitalism on values and moral character. Sennett argues that Adam . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon outline, Sixth After Epiphany

From Leithart

INTRODUCTION Yahweh’s promise to David (2 Samuel 7) about an eternal dynasty overshadows the whole book of Kings, and the story of Kings is about Yahweh’s faithfulness to David in the face of all threats and challenges. Here, David’s dynasty is nearly destroyed by a daughter of . . . . Continue Reading »

Language of deficit

From Leithart

After listing 22 descriptive terms for the self (including stressed, self-alienated, paranoid, bulimic), Kenneth Gergen notes that “they are all terms of mental deficit. They discredit the individual, drawing attention to problems, shortcomings, or incapacities. To put it more broadly, the . . . . Continue Reading »