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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Baptismal meditation, Fourth Epiphany

From Leithart

Ecclesiastes 11:1: Cast your bread on the face of the waters, for you will find it after many days. We saw in this morning’s sermon Solomon’s image of casting bread on the water encourages a reckless faith, a willingness to act in spite of the risks. You don’t know whether your . . . . Continue Reading »

Exhortation, Fourth Epiphany

From Leithart

What kind of guidance should we give our children? We often focus exclusively on all the things that they may not do. That is a perfectly sound approach, especially for younger children. After all, we worship and serve a God whose first words to newborn Israel were “Thou Shalt Not.” At . . . . Continue Reading »

No dry light

From Leithart

Francis Bacon offered this wise caution, “The human understanding is no dry light but receives an infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called ‘sciences as one would.’ For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes . . . . . . . . Continue Reading »

Notes on Freud

From Leithart

Some notes on Freud, mainly as background for discussion of Ernest Jones psycho-analytic treatment of Hamlet, largely based on Merold Westphal’s summary in Suspicion & Faith. FREUD AND SCIENCE Freud is an Enlightenment man who subverted the Enlightenment, an advocate of scientism whose . . . . Continue Reading »

Culpable gloom

From Leithart

“Follow the ways of your heart and what your eyes see; and know that on account of all these, God will bring you into judgment.” The last part of this is often taken as a warning about the limits of joy and pleasure-taking. Seow thinks otherwise: “Human beings are supposed to . . . . Continue Reading »

Calvinist Proof Text

From Leithart

Ecclesiastes 11:5 emphasizes the limitations of human knowledge by emphasizing that God works everything: “you do not know the works of God (ELOHIM) who does all (Y’SH ET-HAKOL).” There are two possible translations of the last relative clause: 1) “who does all.” If we . . . . Continue Reading »

Portions to eight

From Leithart

I saw a man hoarding his treaures, building bigger barns and stuffing his safety deposit boxes and worrying over his portfolio. Disaster struck, and he lost everything because he had everything to lose. He didn’t even have three comforters. I saw a man throwing around his money with abandon, . . . . Continue Reading »

Bread on Waters

From Leithart

I saw a man with a bag of seed. He looked at the sky to discern the weather, and decided tomorrow would be a better day to plant. The next day, he invented instruments to test the humidity and to predict the wind, and decided that tomorrow would be a better day to plant. And tomorrow and tomorrow . . . . Continue Reading »

Historicist Reduction of Freud

From Leithart

As Jones presents it, the logic of repression of sexual desires is as follows: 1) The desires are most likely to be repressed are those that are socially disapproved, disapproved by the “herd.” 2) We unconsciously push back those disapproved desire. The imagery is hydraulic: Repressing . . . . Continue Reading »

What Psychology Taught Us

From Leithart

Ernest Jones notes an essential contribution of modern psychology: “We are beginning to see man not as the smooth, self-acting agent he pretends to be, but as he really is, a creature only dimly conscious of the various influences that mould his thought and action, and blindly resisting with . . . . Continue Reading »