Blogroll: Peter Leithart

I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading. There are currently 103 posts from the blog 'Peter Leithart.'

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One of our top writers, Peter J. Leithart has earned his own blog. Leithart publishes several blog posts per day about religion and public life.
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Demonstrative Complications

Mon, 20/02/2017 - 05:00

In their 1662 treatise on Logic, or the Art of Thinking , Antoine Arnauld and Pierre Nicole question the straightforwardness of the Calvinist logical analysis concerning the Eucharistic “This is my body.” They summarise the argument this way: “Their claim is that in Jesus Christ’s assertion, ‘This is my body,’ the word ‘this’ signifies the bread. Now the bread, they say, cannot really be the body of Christ, and therefore Christ’s assertion does not mean ‘This is really my body’” (71).

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The State after ‘68

Fri, 17/02/2017 - 05:00

According to Pierre Manent ( Beyond Radical Secularism ), May 1968 marked a critical turning point in the political history ofFrance. Despite the persistence of the “Gaullist” party in political power, ‘68 undermined “collective rules, both political and merely social. The citizen of action was followed by the individual of enjoyment. . . . From this moment on relaxation becomes the law of the land. It makes every constraint appear to be useless and arbitrary, in a word vexing, whether in civic or in private life. As each letting-go justifies and calls forth the next, governments are motivated to tout themselves, no longer by the guidance and energy they give to common life, but by the ‘new rights' they grant to individuals and to groups” (5).

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On Separating Church and State

Fri, 17/02/2017 - 05:00

Separation of church and state, religion and politics, is not “sufficient unto itself,” argues Pierre Manent ( Beyond Radical Secularism ). After all, he points out, citizens are believers, believers citizens, and they don’t cease to be one when they take up the role of the other. Separation “suggests the dangerously clear figure of a reciprocal exteriority, as a plan divided by a line, or a three-dimension figure divided by a plane.” It is more realistic to speak of a “reciprocal envelopment of the political form and the regime,” in France, the secular state and a nation “marked” by Christianity” (62).

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Architecture of Fancy

Fri, 17/02/2017 - 05:00

The title essay of John Summerson's Heavenly Mansions sets Gothic architecture in a story of the architecture of fancy. He begins with doll houses, and moves to aedicules, originally small buildings holding the image of a god that eventually became purely decorative alcoves. In Gothic, the ornament is turned into the structure: “Instead of the aedicule serving to adorn the structure, the structure was made the slave of the aedicule” (14).

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Slow Grow

Fri, 17/02/2017 - 05:00

In his Rise and Fall of American Growth , Robert J. Gordon argues that the growth rates for the American economy have leveled because the rate of innovation has leveled. And the rate of innovation has leveled, in part, because some innovations happen only once:

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Anthropology of Deficiency

Fri, 17/02/2017 - 05:00

According to Ingolf Dalferth ( Creatures of Possibility ), Christianity “contradicts a view that understands human beings in their fundamental dependence, finitude, and passivity, not merely biologically, but anthropologically, as deficient beings , interpreting their absolute dependence as absolute neediness, their finitude as a metaphysical evil, and their experience of the inaccessible as a threat of fundamental meaninglessness.” Such an “anthropology of deficiency” blocks our understanding of gift (105).

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Passive Creativity

Fri, 17/02/2017 - 05:00

Christian theology has long taught that we are “finite copies of the infinite Creator: created creators” (Dalferth, Creatures of Possibility , 198). Christian anthropology is eschatologically oriented: “Who we are is not determined by our origin; it will become evident in our future” (198). This comes to expression in religious and secular forms, the latter treating becoming as a self-making, the former as “gifting and empowering” (199).

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Passivity and Freedom

Fri, 17/02/2017 - 05:00

Ingolf Dalferth thinks we are Creatures of Possibility . By that, he means that “we are creatures in the making whose actual becoming depends on possibilities beyond our control that occur in our lives as opportunities and chances that we can neglect and miss or take up and use” (ix). We are free to choose and act, and we can determine “the mode of our choosing and the way of our acting in moral terms.” Yet this freedom “depends on conditions that are beyond our control: we can choose and act and determine ourselves only against the backdrop of a basic passivity that characterizes our life and cannot be replaced or undone by anything we can do” (x).

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Slackers

Fri, 17/02/2017 - 05:00

It’s a challenge to get a clear idea of what slackers are really all about. Tom Lutz isolates the dilemma in his Doing Nothing (18-19):

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Living Sacrifices

Fri, 17/02/2017 - 05:00

Joseph Ratzinger reflects on Romans 12:1-2 in his Theology of the Liturgy (349-51), which is evident in the Roman Canon's prayer that “our sacrifice may be rationabilis .” He writes:

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Descartes, Nihilist

Thu, 16/02/2017 - 05:00

In her After Writing , Catherine Pickstock argues that the Cartesian Cogito is grounded in a Cartesian ontology, which is in turn related to a Cartesian politics. According to Descartes' Regulae , she says, “being is defined as that which is clear and distinct, available to absolute and certain intuitions, and ‘perfectly known and incapable of being doubted.' Existence becomes a ‘simple' or common notion, which, along with ‘unity' and ‘duration,' is univocally common to both corporeal things and to spirits.” These distinct and clearly-known objects can be mapped in a comprehensive mathesis , “modelled on the abstract and timeless certainty of arithmetic and geometry” (62–3).

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Allotments

Thu, 16/02/2017 - 05:00

1 Chronicles 23-27 describes the distribution of responsibilities for the house of Yahweh (chs. 23-26) and the management of the king's palace and estates (ch. 27). Using lots, David and the priests create “divisions” of priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, treasurers, and others.

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Art, Divine and Human

Wed, 15/02/2017 - 05:00

According to Jean-Louis Chretien ( Hand to Hand ), the notion of God as divine artist and of the world as art comes into its own in Augustine’s Trinitarian notion of ars divina , developed in medieval theology and Baroque art theory. This tradition was not free of ambiguities.

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Christian Unity

Tue, 14/02/2017 - 05:00

Despite its orientation to Catholics, Thomas Ryan's Christian Unity is full of practical suggestions for pastors, lay people, and theologians of all Christian traditions. A few more or less random gleanings.

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Time Out of Joint

Tue, 14/02/2017 - 05:00

Everyone who's read Genesis 1 knows that Hebrews reckoned time from night till day. “Evening and morning, one day” is a refrain of the creation week (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). Lamps in the tabernacle burned continually ( tamid ), that is, from evening till morning (Leviticus 24:3; cf. Exodus 27:21), and the cloud of the Lord's presence remained above the tabernacle “from evening till morning” (Number 9:21). During Passover, not yeast was to be found in Israelite homes from the sacrifice of the evening of the first day until morning (Deuteronomy 16:4).

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Science of Division

Mon, 13/02/2017 - 05:00

Plato said that purification is a science of division. So is creation. In Genesis, God forms the formless by separating. He divides ( badal ) light from darkness to form a temporal structure of evenings and mornings (Genesis 1:4) and waters from water to create a vertical spatiality (Genesis 1:6-7). He delegates the creative work of dividing day and night to the heavenly bodies, which rule and signify in part by separating (Genesis 1:14, 18).

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Fair Nature's Second Chance

Fri, 10/02/2017 - 05:00

“Giving oneself up to sleep can constitute the worst of abandonments,” writes Jean-Louis Chretien ( Hand to Hand ), “wherein we abandon another person to his solitude and his distress by withdrawing ourselves from the common world and from our community with him. Our eyelids close upon our weary gaze, and our ears become deaf to the other’s voice. One can thus leave someone without even moving away simply by dozing off. The being who is asleep, however physically close he may be, stays in the inaccessible distance of his withdrawal.”

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The New (Secular) Pragmatism

Fri, 10/02/2017 - 05:00

Paul Collier devotes a long, provocative, stimulating TLS review to a sketch of a “new pragmatism.” The review doubles as an essay on the “future of capitalism.” Along the way, Collier discusses the problems of multiculturalism and gives qualified endorsement to nationalism.

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Authoritarian Gardeners

Fri, 10/02/2017 - 05:00

David I. Smith and Susan M. Felch ( Teaching and Christian Imagination ) want to rehabilitate the symbolism of “gardening” as a model of education.

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Silence of Painting

Fri, 10/02/2017 - 05:00

In Hand to Hand , Jean-Louis Chretien meditates on silence in painting. He doesn't simply mean that painting is a visual rather than an audible art. Instead, he argues that paintings must not only be viewed but listened to:

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