Machiavelli on honor

Machiavelli know what he was about. Though continuing to identify himself with Christianity, he advocated a revival of ancient concepts of virtu , and recognized that one key obstacle was the Christian revaluation of the value of honor. In the midst of numerous distortions of faith and history, he . . . . Continue Reading »

Motivated malignancy

In his recent book, Honor: A History , James Bowman suggests that Iago was motivated by concerns of honor. He elevates “good name” above riches, and his stated motive for hating Othello is his suspicion that the Moor slept with his wife is consistent with traditional honor codes: . . . . Continue Reading »

Class consciousness

Lawrence Stone records the following in his classic Crisis of the Aristocracy : “So deep [was] feeling of a fundamental distinction of ranks that gentlemen did not hesitate to behave in ways which would today be considered base and even cowardly. When Lord Herbert of Cherbury was shipwrecked . . . . Continue Reading »

Death of the author

A hypothesis to explore: What is the connection between the postmodern “death of the author” and higher critical methods of biblical interpretation? Did the dissolution of the text in biblical studies contribute to a dissolution of the author in texts generally? To what extent is . . . . Continue Reading »

Type and Antitype

At times, I’ve felt that my polemics against semi-marcionitism in sacramental theology and hermeneutics finds no actual targets. And then I read something like this. In his book on hermeneutics, Louis Berkhof characterizes the difference between type and antitype: “The one represents . . . . Continue Reading »

Left to Right

Butler cleverly suggests that postmodernism’s leftism ends up underwriting rightist politics: “a left-inspired distrust of authority . . . makes recognition of difference possible, and yet those who are perhaps most in favor of leaving differently defined groups in isolation, to compete . . . . Continue Reading »

Liberal to postmodern

Poor Christopher Butler: He really doesn’t like postmodernism, but he keeps saying that postmodernism at its most sane is just repeating what liberals have always believed and doing what liberals have always done. Postmodernists challenge “the boundaries of our social roles,” and . . . . Continue Reading »

Discourses of power

Postmodernists claim that discourses are inevitably exercises of power. To theorize is to classify, and classification, well, puts things in classes, asserts authority over them. Butler offers this example: “You believe what the young surgeon tells you, and so you give him permission to . . . . Continue Reading »

Modernity of Postmodernism

Postmodern reading is characterized by a hermeneutics of suspicion, but in this postmodern critics are adopting a stance (sometimes quite consciously) rooted in Marxist and Freudian theory. Butler says, “in concentrating on the notion of hidden contradiction, many postmodernists allied . . . . Continue Reading »

On Getting it wrong

Butler argues that “many postmodern ideas” are “at best confused, and at worst simply untrue.” But he’s pretty sanguine about that: “the essential leading ideas of many cultural epochs are open to the same criticism” - he mentions the Romantic notion of . . . . Continue Reading »