Rosenstock-Huessy notes the difference between animal birth and human childbirth, the main difference being that human parents remain with children after the birth: “marriage means to go from the blind act of the moment, through the whole life cycle to its most opposite point the . . . . Continue Reading »

Naming and nationalism

With nationalism at its height in the nineteenth century, the common practice of giving children biblical names was a check on nationalist idolatry, a reminder that the child was part of Christendom, not merely of France, Germany, England, etc. Rosenstock-Huessy puts the point dramatically: . . . . Continue Reading »

Scientific law

In their Science & Grace (Crossway 2006), Tim Morris and Don Petcher helpfully define a law of nature as “God’s sustaining of, or man’s description of, that pattern of regularity that we observe in nature as God works out His purposes towards His own ends in HIs covenant . . . . Continue Reading »

Living in fictions

In a discussion of King Lear , David Bevington suggests that Edgar saves his father at the cliffs of Dover by constructing a cosmology in which the gods are merciful and perform miracles: “Edgar stages his fiction in this particular way because he knows his father well enough to realize that . . . . Continue Reading »

Tyranny of gratitude

Many of Shakespeare’s plays explore the moral and political consequences of ingratitude, but Shakespeare is also cognizant of the tyrannical uses to which the demand for gratitude may be put. Lear is certainly about ingratitude, the “marble-hearted fiend” that infects and distorts . . . . Continue Reading »

In praise of Pietism

Friedrich Oetinger was a leading German pietist intellectual and theologian, deeply interested in the science of his day. And critical of science and rationalist philosophy as well. Against thinkers who placed a primacy on reason, Oetinger argued that sheer logical clarity is insufficient . . . . Continue Reading »

Communion in humor

I tell a joke, and you get it. I include a veiled allusion to, say, Faust in a casual conversation; you catch it; and we exchange a mental wink. Humor provides a pathway into the hermeneutics of texts and communication. It also seems to provide a pathway into the sociology of communication. When . . . . Continue Reading »

Keeping in mind

Gadamer notes the ambiguity of “keeping something in mind.” We sometimes hold something in our mental “gaze” in order to knock into it head on. We watch it carefully until we can grab it. But keeping in mind can also be a form of forgetfulness. We might also keep something . . . . Continue Reading »

Mysticism and culture

Gadamer notes that the concept of Bildung (culture) has its origins in medieval and baroque mysticism, and continues to carry a mystical connotation when it begins to be used of the cultivated humanness. Von Humboldt, for instance, says “when in our language we say Bildung, we mean something . . . . Continue Reading »


Responding to Isaac Watts’s claim that we love things purely out of our choice, Jonathan Edwards deftly isolated the problems of that position: When we choose one thing over another, we are clearly preferring that thing, but “that the mind sets a higher value on one thing than another, . . . . Continue Reading »