"...a god of purity and brightness and the clarity of perfect form, the most radiant and visible of all that is divine, but also a god always more distant, more hidden, whose arrows fly from farther and ever farther away; the shining one, the lord of poetry and song and prophecy, but also the god of wrathful countenance, who slays with the gentle bolt or instantanteous death; the lord of cleansing sunlight and of the clear, sweet water of living springs, the purifier and the healer, but also the death-dealing god of plague and spiritual contagion; wise, invincible, the god of consummate hum
Liberalism and conservatism, explained in two fables I wrote for Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Edmund Burke
A Fable by Jean-Jacques Rousseau:
Count me as one of those amused by the self-congratulation inherent in just about every American news story about how primitive Sochi is. In the weeks leading up to the 2014 Olympics, my favorite media outrage was the one about stray dogs being rounded up and put down before Olympic visitors arrived in town. Never mind the 8000 strays euthanized in New York City every year, or the 3 million strays put down yearly in the US, what happened to the Sochi strays seemed little worse than murder by Daily Mail standards.
Several months ago, Babette’s Feast received a Criterion release accompanied by a fat little book of essays about the film, as well as the Isak Denisen short story upon which the film was based. In the last several years, I have seen the film five times and loved it so much I named a daughter after the heroine, although, until several weeks ago, I had not ventured through the text.
The film is unfailingly fair to the story, but until you’ve read the story, the film is merely a gorgeous hibernating animal. You read the story, though, and the bear will dance.
A final exam I recently gave on The Consolation of Philosophy.
Write a conversation between yourself and Lady Philosophy. Lady Philosophy wants you to be happy, although you have recently gotten away with something sinful and you think you might feel better once you have confessed it to the person you sinned against. You have your reasons for not confessing it.
Christ has often been seen as Prophet, Priest, and King, and following an Augustinian theory of learning, He has often been viewed as the Teacher as well. We have not often imagined Christ as the Student, though. Should we?
I. On Sunday afternoon, I drink a French press and put on Bill Evans or Django Reinhardt while meandering through the forest-clearing, four pound Sunday edition of the New York Times. On the sofa, my wife and I read the paper while our children take a nap, which is an hour if we’re lucky. So far as rest goes, there are few things I value more. When everything about the afternoon falls perfectly into place, I suppose I might submit the moment to the power of an eternal present and simply exist forever inside of it.
At least one of St. John Chrysostom’s homilies on the Ascension is absolutely hilarious. Not accidentally hilarious, be assured. In the great preacher’s second homily on the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:6 and following), Chrysostom explains why Christ, for a second time, evades the apostle’s question about when the Kingdom of Israel will be restored.
Just before Christmas break, I finished teaching Till We Have Faces for the fourth time in eight years. I read the book aloud, in its entirety, to a class of just two students. Depending on my mood, when I am asked for the title of my favorite novel, I claim it is either Till We Have Faces or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Of the two, I know Orual far better than the Man or the Boy. Aside of reading Lewis’ last novel for class four times, I’ve probably read it that many times again on my own.