Pro Patria Mori

The history of the modern nation-state, and the disillusionment with it, can be told as the story of changing responses to Roman-inspired patriotism, tinged with the rhetoric of Christian martyrdom and sacrifice. Simplifying to an extreme, the story of modern politics is about the resurgence (in . . . . Continue Reading »

Other-directeds and Decentereds

In his 1950 book, The Lonely Crowd , David Reisman divided humanity into three parts: the tradition-directed, the inner-directed, and the other-directed. The last were distinguished from the first by the fact that they looked to the present rather than to the past for direction: “What is . . . . Continue Reading »

Solitude and individualism

Is solitide a prerequisite for the rise of individualism? If someone is never actually alone, can he ever conceive of himself as being defined in isolation and separation from others? This line of questioning might give some part of the explanation for the rise of individualism in the modern world. . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon outline

INTRODUCTION The world is divided into two great families. On the one hand, there are those who are “called children of God” (3:1), while on the other hand are the “children of the devil” (3:10). The main distinguishing mark is conduct: Children of the devil practice sin, . . . . Continue Reading »

Eucharistic meditation

1 John 2:20: You have an anointing from the Holy One. As I said in the sermon, John uses the word “anointing” to refer to the Spirit. We are led into truth, and enabled to persevere in the truth, because the Spirit has been poured out. But John uses this particular word to refer to the . . . . Continue Reading »


“You have no need for anyone to teach you,” John writes, since “His anointing teaches you about all things.” Whatever this means, it certainly doesn’t mean that Christians don’t need any teachers. That would make John’s statement contradictory, since . . . . Continue Reading »

Coming soon?

It is almost universally believed among evangelicals that Jesus is coming soon. This conviction is obvious among those who think that Jacques Chirac or Vladimir Putin might be the Antichrist. But even evangelicals saner eschatologies cling to the belief that Jesus could be returning any day. In his . . . . Continue Reading »

Foucault’s eschatology

Berman offers this very sharp summary of Foucault’s work, whom he says is “about the only writer of the past decade who has had anything substantial to say about modernity” (Berman is writing in 1982). Then: “what he has to say is an endless, excruciating series of . . . . Continue Reading »

Flattened modernity

In the introduction to his All That Is Solid Melts Into Air , Marshall Berman argues that nineteenth century critics of modernity had a much richer grasp of the costs and promise of modernity than do twentieth century observers. Modern life is, Rousseau said, a whirlwind ( le tourbillon social ), . . . . Continue Reading »