Dionysus and the crucified

Shaftesbury recognized the stark difference between his own rational Deity and the vulgar bodily and crucifiable Christ. Francis Hutcheson, building on Shaftesbury, tried to conflate the two. Hutcheson was a Christian, a Presbyterian professor of moral theology. Shaftesbury loathed Christ. But . . . . Continue Reading »

Sade and the cross

Notoriously, the Marquis de Sade stole some consecrated wafers, pushed them into a prostitute’s vagina, and had sex, saying, “Avenge yourself, if you are God.” He meant this as blasphemy, and it is. But his blasphemy only shows just how insurmountable Jesus is. Sade thought . . . . Continue Reading »


Individualism treats us as splendidly isolated beings, our real selves fountains of ideas and desires but impenetrable to anything from the outside. How ever did we get this idea? By ignoring the body. If the body is at all a clue to the secret of human life, it shows us that we are anything but . . . . Continue Reading »


To grasp what Rosenstock-Huessy says about tribalism, we need to recognize that he sees the tribe as one moment in the development of ancient civilization. In The Fruit of Lips, he describes the origin of the tribe: “The ancient cycle began in the primitive tribe, among a little group of . . . . Continue Reading »


In his chapter on the Bolshevik Revolution, Rosenstock-Huessy spends a number of pages digressing about Marx and Marxism. The following notes summarize his treatment of Marxism. Marx, Rosenstock-Huessy begins, is the culmination of the protest against the “order of things” from within . . . . Continue Reading »

Farewell to Descartes

Rosenstock-Huessy’s brief essay on Descartes (included in I Am An Impure Thinker, extracted from Out of Revolution) highlights a number of recurring themes in Rosenstock-Huessy’s work: He discusses his own formula, Respondeo etsi mutabor, in contrast to the cogito of Descartes; he . . . . Continue Reading »

Unbearable burden of Evangelicalism

Anti-sacramental, anti-ritual evangelicalism emphasizes a personal relationship with God, but tends to encourage what Anthony Giddens calls “pure relationship,” a relationship that is not tacked down with external anchors and supports. A live-in relationship, without benefit of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Shaftesbury’s Natural Self

Lori Branch describes the paradoxical pursuit of “natural” self in Shaftesbury’s private “Exercises.” It is not a pretty sight. He seeks integrity in unified affections, but this unity is achieved only at the cost of dismemberment: “In search of the natural self, . . . . Continue Reading »

Secularism and suffering

Talal Asad suggests that secularism assumes that human beings live and choose on the basis of a “calculus of pleasure and pain.” Pain is unredeemable, and so secularism can respond to suffering only by trying to minimize it - soothing it with drugs, distracting through narcotic . . . . Continue Reading »

Chiasm in 1 John 4

1 John 4:12-17 is organized as a chiasm: A. No one beheld God, 12a B. Mutual love, God abides, love perfected, 12b C. Abiding in God, He in us, 13 D. Bear witness to the Savior, 14 D’. Confessing that Jesus is Son, 15a C’. God abides in him, he in us, 15b B’. God’s love for . . . . Continue Reading »