First Things RSS Feed - Stephen H. Webb
Stephen H. Webb is a columnist for First Things. He is the author of Jesus Christ, Eternal God and, forthcoming, Mormon Christianity. His book on Bob Dylan is Dylan Redeemed.en-usCopyright 2016 First Things. All Rights Reserved.firstname.lastname@example.org (The Editors)email@example.com (The Editors)Sat, 22 Oct 2016 17:35:45 -0400https://d25wp47b6tla3u.cloudfront.net/img/favicon-196.pngFirst Things RSS Feed Image
60God of the Depressedhttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2016/02/god-of-the-depressed
Fri, 19 Feb 2016 00:00:00 -0500Christians don’t talk enough about depression. Emotional pain, for one thing, can be hard to share. Despair can feel very physical for the sufferer, weighing heavily on the heart and clogging the brain, but its surface features can be easily overlooked or missing altogether. A depression that finally lifts leaves no scars on the skin to show how deep the wound was and how long the healing took. Besides, such anguish is so personal that it is hard to share it with anyone other than members of the family or the medical profession.
Announcing New Multimillion Dollar Aid-for-Adjuncts Granthttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2015/08/announcing-new-multimillion-dollar-aid-for-adjuncts-grant
Wed, 05 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400In what is being hailed as a revolutionary solution to the overpopulation problem of adjuncts in higher education, the Bench Foundation has announced a multi-year program called Aid-for-Adjuncts. The program is the result of a ten-year study of the rapid proliferation of part-time instructors in college, university, and seminary classrooms. For the first time, administrative centers will be established across America, helping school officials formulate proper guidelines for the use and abuse of adjuncts.
]]>Dean Potter Would Have Made a Great Sainthttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/05/dean-porter-would-have-made-a-great-saint
Tue, 19 May 2015 00:00:00 -0400
One of the most accomplished extreme athletes of his generation, Dean Potter died last week in a BASE jumping accident at Yosemite National Park. He and a jumping partner were attempting to navigate a narrow passage notched into a steep and spiny ridgeline. They smashed into the rock before they had time to open their parachutes.
]]>Rethinking Theology and Matter with Ibn Gabirolhttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/04/rethinking-theology-and-matter-with-ibn-gabirol
Mon, 27 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400Solomon Ibn Gabirol (1021–1058) was the first Jewish philosopher in Spain, but medieval Christians knew him only by his Latinized name, Avicebron, and they assumed that he was either a Christian or a Muslim. Most scholastics also thought he was a deeply misguided thinker. Gabirol was identified with the doctrine of universal hylomorphism—the idea that everything God creates is composed of form and matter—and treated as a precursor of the nominalist emphasis on the absolute freedom (and thus inscrutability) of God’s will. Some of his poetry remains in liturgical use in Judaism to this day, but his philosophy was all but forgotten. Even experts in medieval theology typically treat him as little more than a footnote to scholastic debates about how angels can be individuated without being embodied.
]]>NCAA Announces New Commission to Apply Fouling Rules to Religious Freedom Disputeshttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/04/ncaa-announces-new-commission-to-apply-fouling-rules-to-religious-freedom-disputes-a-satire
Mon, 13 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400NCAA President Mark Emmert has announced a new commission to study how its handling of fouls called in men’s basketball can help state governments determine the proper balance between religious freedom and civil rights:
]]>Hoosiers Unite Against Connecticut!https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/04/hoosiers-unite-against-connecticut
Thu, 02 Apr 2015 11:50:00 -0400There is only one reasonable response to Gov. Dannel Malloy’s executive order banning state-funded travel to Indiana. Because he thinks Indiana’s religious freedom law opens the door to discrimination, he forbids any Connecticut state employee to travel on official business to the state of Indiana. “We are sending a message that discrimination won’t be tolerated,” he declared. Hoosiers are agreeable people, so I want him to know that I hear his message loud and clear. We, too, will not tolerate discrimination. For that reason, I urge all Hoosiers to support a ban on any publicly funded travel to Connecticut.
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400Jim was holding his one-year-old son while smoking meth freebase when the oily liquid spilled on the little boy, badly burning him. Technically, it was an accident; the proximate cause was the breakdown in the electrical signals between his besotted brain and his fumbling fingers. Even in that moment, however, he knew that his bad choices were the ultimate reason for this senseless horror. Once in prison, he came to accept that he had loved drugs more than his own life, but how could he live with the knowledge that he was willing to sacrifice his son on the altar of his addiction?
]]>Will David Hart's Dog Go To Heaven?https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/03/will-david-harts-dog-go-to-heaven
Tue, 24 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400In a recent issue of
“Vinculum Magnum Entis,” April
), David Hart recounts (or, perhaps, constructs) a conversation with a paleo-traditional Thomist over the salvific status of animals. His interlocutor defends “a particularly colorless construal of the beatific vision” which has the consequence of preventing any pesky animals from passing through the Pearly Gates. Hart appeals to the dog lovers’ natural feelings of affection and companionship as well as to the Bible’s vision of the lion lying down with the lamb to defend his “hope to see puppies in paradise.” He also admits that this eschatological debate, in the end, “comes down to metaphysics.” I share Hart’s hope for eternal canine happiness, but I wonder whether his metaphysics is as strong as his feeling for these kindred souls. The title of my piece, therefore, is a little misleading. What I am really asking is this: Will David Hart’s dog go to
his conception of
]]>Is God Really Infinite?https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/03/is-god-really-infinite
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400Classical theism, with its identification of God with infinity, has developed a reputation for emphasizing divine transcendence to the point of making God
unknowable. The problem with this judgment is that infinity—as in, God is infinitely unknowable—does not admit to degrees. An infinite God is not like an unimaginably large number that we could count to if only we had enough time. Nor is an infinite God like the largest possible number we know, or at least know well enough to use in any practical way. That would be, according to the
Guinness Book of World Records
, Graham’s number, which has to do with the theoretical dimensions of the geometric shape known as a hypercube. Paradoxically, Graham’s number is at least as mysterious as the idea of infinity, since it exists only as a function of an extremely complex mathematical proof, and infinity, though hotly debated, is a fairly fixed idea—even if it is really nothing more than the idea of that which is unimaginable.
]]>The End of the Analogy of Beinghttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/01/the-end-of-the-analogy-of-being
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:00:00 -0500The new translation of
Erich Przywara’s Analogia Entis
is a theological landmark that should go a long way toward clarifying the centuries-long debate about the relationship between analogy and metaphysics. Far from being a rhetorical trope or a philosophical tool, analogy for Przywara is the style of thought that best corresponds to the way in which being makes itself known. Not only is analogy, for Przywara, built into every level of Catholic theology. It is the glue that holds those levels together. The analogy of being is nothing more than the philosophical form that the Roman Catholic Church takes as it embodies God’s presence in the world.