Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama, and an adjunct Senior Fellow at New St. Andrews College. He is author, most recently, of Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor).

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Left to Right

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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 »

Parochial Postmodernism

From Leithart

Butler points out that postmodernism’s claims that grand narratives are passe is very culturally specific, even parochial, and cannot be sustained as a sociological claim: “allegiances to large-scale, totalizing religious and naturalist beliefs are currently responsible for so much . . . . Continue Reading »

Postmodern historiography

From Leithart

After reviewing some of the more radical proposals for a postmodern historiography, Christopher Butler, no friend to postmodernism, makes the sensible suggestion that “Postmodern relativism needn’t mean that anything goes, or that faction and fiction are the same as history. What it . . . . Continue Reading »

Matthew’s genealogy

From Leithart

In his midrashic/lectionary treatment of Matthew, M. D. Goulder suggests that “The three fourteens are to a Jew who had read Daniel six weeks of generations; and if six, then looking forward to a seventh, to make a week of weeks . . . . This, then, is to be the last week, initiated by the . . . . Continue Reading »

Uses of theory

From Leithart

In a 1987 article in CBQ, Frank Matera deploys a highly technical narratological apparatus to draw the astonishing conclusion that “the plot of Matthew’s gospel has something to do with salvation history, the recognition of Jesus’ identity, his rejection by Israel, and with the . . . . Continue Reading »

Modernity and Control

From Leithart

In the current issue of Mars Hill audio magazine, Ken Myers, quoting from Craig Gay, makes the important point that modernity is defined not so much by its aspiration to control as by the means it uses to achieve control. Instead of seeking to control reality with magic or prayer, as some . . . . Continue Reading »