David Martin comments (TLS, June 16) on Maurice’s Bloch’s view that ritual crushes human creativity: “No doubt that is how the Jesuits (with their Spiritual Exercises) turned into such scientifically incurious stay-at-homes, how the Mormons built a city in the desert, and the . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon Outline, July 2

INTRODUCTION After Josiah, Judah unravels rapidly. Josiah’s son is imprisoned by Pharaoh Neco (23:33), and before long Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonians are invading, destroying the temple and the city (24:1). It is Good Friday for Israel. THE TEXT “Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old . . . . Continue Reading »

Strategies of Defilement

In the account of Josiah’s reform in 2 Kings 23, there is frequent reference to “defiling” (vv 4, 6, 8, 10, 13, 14, 16, 20). Josiah defiles by scattering the ashes from a destroyed Asherah pole, by filling holy places with bones, by burning bones on altars. It’s not enough . . . . Continue Reading »

Baptismal Meditation

2 Kings 23:12: The altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of Yahweh, the king broke down; and he smashed them there, and threw their dust into the brook Kidron. Josiah was one of the great heroes of the faith, providing an example not only for leaders of the church but for . . . . Continue Reading »

Eucharistic Meditation

2 Kings 23:21-23: Then the king commanded all the people, saying, Celebrate the Passover to Yahweh your God as it is written inn this book of the covenant. Surely such a Passover had not been celebrated from the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and of . . . . Continue Reading »


The reform of King Josiah is one of the high points of the history of Judah, and Josiah one of the great heroes of the faith. But we should also consider what this story reveals about the condition of Judah. As we consider the virtues of Josiah, don’t lose sight of what made his reform . . . . Continue Reading »

Imperial Odysseus

In a rapid survey (TLS May 26) of the cultural uses of the Odysseus-Cyclops encounter that ranges from Kant’s “Cyclopean thinking” to Charles Lamb’s version of the Odyssey to Joyce, Salman Rushdie, Derek Walcott, and the X-Men Edith Hall includes these intriguing tidbits: . . . . Continue Reading »

Oresteia in Modern World

In his autobiography, Wagner describes the effect of Aeschylus’ Oresteia on his sensibilities and work: “I could see the Oresteia with my mind’s eye, as though it were actually being performed; and its effect on me was indescribable. Nothing could equal the sublime emotion with . . . . Continue Reading »

Who’s the Greatest?

Hezekiah is the greatest; 2 Kings 18:5 says so: “He trusted Yahweh, the God of Israel; so tyhat after him there was no like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.” Josiah is the greatest; 2 Kings 23:25 says so: “before him there was no king like him . . . . Continue Reading »

Augustine’s Decentered Self

Maguire again, this time describing Augustine’s idea of memory and self: “This dynamism of relation, manifest above all in the way that God’s love permits the love of creatures for God, and the love among creatures through God, is for Augustine the ‘ground’ of the . . . . Continue Reading »