The End of the Analogy of Being

The new translation of Erich Przywara’s Analogia Entis is a theological landmark that should go a long way toward clarifying the centuries-long debate about the relationship between analogy and metaphysics. Far from being a rhetorical trope or a philosophical tool, analogy for Przywara is the style of thought that best corresponds to the way in which being makes itself known. Not only is analogy, for Przywara, built into every level of Catholic theology. It is the glue that holds those levels together. The analogy of being is nothing more than the philosophical form that the Roman Catholic Church takes as it embodies God’s presence in the world. Continue Reading »

Jesus on Safari

It has been nearly ten years since Jaroslav Pelikan died and a full twenty-five since he completed The Christian Tradition, his five-volume, 2,100-page history of “what the church of Jesus Christ believes, teaches, and confesses on the basis of the Word of God.” Who was Jaroslav Pelikan, and why does his work remain so important for serious Christian scholarship today? Continue Reading »

Joy in Chastity

In 2006, Dawn Eden wrote The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. It was an account of how, as a new Christian convert—having led an exciting but spiritually unfulfilling life as a rock journalist—she learned to be joyfully chaste. Continue Reading »

The Scale of the Universe and the Religious View

Who is the protagonist of Hamlet? It seems pretty obvious that it is the dark prince himself, but I am sure you can imagine a clever reader making a case that it is really Ophelia, or Claudius, or some other important character. What would you say to someone who said that the protagonist was actually Cornelius, the Danish envoy to Norway, whose one line is shared with someone else? Continue Reading »

Salt of the Earth

Salt of the earth” is one of the best-known phrases in the Bible, but it’s more enigmatic than we realize. Salt has many qualities, and it’s not clear which one Jesus is highlighting. Does Jesus want disciples to preserve the world? Are disciples as necessary to the world as salt is to life? Are disciples the seasoning on a main course dished up by someone else? Continue Reading »

God of Fire, Man of Prayer

Birmingham is a post-Civil War city founded in 1871 in response to the discovery of one of the world’s richest mineral deposits of iron, coal, and limestone. The abundance of these raw materials led to a thriving steel industry, and Birmingham became the “Pittsburgh of the South.” In the early twentieth century, the leaders of Birmingham commissioned a statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the forge, to represent the city at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Today, Vulcan stands 56-feet tall high atop Red Mountain overlooking the city, a symbol of Birmingham’s history. Colossus-like, Vulcan is the largest cast-iron statue in the world, welcoming thousands of visitors every day from near and far. Continue Reading »

Looking East

Turning to Tradition
by d. oliver herbel
oxford, 256 pages, $27.95
In 2010, Eastern Orthodox Christians in America awoke to a painful realization—there aren’t very many of us. Since the 1920s, various prelates and the pages of archdiocesan yearbooks have claimed that there were as many as seven million Orthodox Americans, yet that number never seemed to change over the decades that followed, even while the American population tripled. The number we awoke to, thanks to the first demographic study of all our parishes, conducted by researcher Alexei ­Krindatch, was less than one million. It’s little wonder that Krindatch’s website detailing this census is named The census’s publication sparked reflection in the Orthodox-convert blogosphere as to what, exactly, American Orthodoxy really was. It turns out, for instance, that more than half of us belong to the Greek Archdiocese. So much for “moving forward without the Greeks” when it came to pursuing long-overdue administrative unity. It also turns out that we are small, that we aren’t having many children who stay in the Church, and that conversions are not a major factor in population growth. Trying to define, both for now and also as a roadmap for the future, what exactly it means to be both American and Orthodox Christian is something that we’ve been stewing on for nearly a century. Continue Reading »

Toasting Jesus

At an evangelical gathering on a New Year’s Eve, someone stood to announce that he wanted to toast us all. We sipped from our glasses of sparkling apple cider as he expressed his wishes for our collective good health for the coming year. Then someone else spoke up: “Now please join me in a toast to Jesus!” Continue Reading »