Essay / Philosophy

Loving Life Under the Sun

“Vanity, all is vanity” is the theme of the Teacher in Ecclesiastes, the fruit of wide experience and deep reflection. Pleasure, folly, great projects, householding, riches, opulence, art, sex, honor, public works, all fall under the same verdict: there is nothing to be gained under

Essay / Culture

Neuroscience Talk May Be Literally Re-Wiring Your Brain

Brain-talk is everywhere these days. And while I love a good functional MRI as much as the next citizen, lately I’ve become alert to the way all of this brain-and-neuron rhetoric functions. It has a conjuring power, giving an aura of sciencey power to absolutely any


Essay / Philosophy

The Examined Life of Socrates

“The unexamined life is not worth living,” said Socrates. In fact, it might be the most famous thing he ever said. If you wanted a Socrates T-shirt, button, or bumper sticker, this is the phrase that would go on it. Socrates wasn’t good at sound

Essay / Philosophy

Doubting 101

This week Fred Sanders posted a link to a meditation on Barth and the experience of doubt in the life of a Christian, and especially of a theologian. The article deals with two forms of Christian doubt, one innocuous, one dangerous, but both negative. While

Essay / Philosophy

Towards The Eternal City: St. Augustine's Theology of History

It is quite common to hear from various Christian circles on how we must influence Washington with Christian values, and that bringing our nation to a more Christian footing morally, cultural and politically must be a top priority.  But even if we did succeed in

Essay / Philosophy

Giles of Viterbo: The Humanist Scholastic

The Commentary on the Sentences of Petrus Lombardus, by Giles of Viterbo.   Giles of Viterbo (1469-1532) was the most active and creative theologians who tried to bring together two worlds: the Renaissance and its call to return to the sources of classical antiquity, and

Essay / Culture

Progress for the Sake of…

As I was driving around LA the other day listening to NPR, two stories run back-to-back caught my attention. The first was a story about the recent Nobel-prize winners John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka, who have uncovered a means for turning any cell into

Essay / Philosophy

John Hick (1922-2012), Philosopher of Religion

John Hick, a major philosopher of religion, has died at age 90. Friends and students had just brought out a festschrift in his honor weeks before his death. Hick’s theological conclusions were decidedly on the liberal side of the spectrum, and his intellectual legacy will

Essay / Culture

Excerpts & Essays: The Great Books Reader

Here’s a 656-page grand tour of some of the greatest moments in Western civilization: The Great Books Reader, edited by John Mark Reynolds. I highly recommend it. Then again, since I contributed to it, work with or for many of the contributors, and already like

Essay / Philosophy

Needy and Rational: Existential Reasons for Belief in God

Once you’ve encountered solid evidence for belief in God, it’s hard to settle for anything less. That is, if you think you have reasons for affirming that the Christian God is real, and that believing in him means having actual knowledge about reality, it’s hard

Essay / Philosophy

Jews and Arabs in Search of Wisdom: Two Book Reviews

Scholars and students who have worked their way through Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s and Oliver Leaman’s masterfully edited work, A History of Islamic Philosophy (Routledge, 2001) will, if they had bother to read the two introductions by Nasr and Leaman respectively, come away with an appreciation

Essay / Literature

Literally, Plato

“This is intended to be a literal translation,” says Allan Bloom in the preface to his 1968 edition of Plato’s Republic. And it is, famously, or infamously, literal. Bloom puts his head down and digs out as word-for-word a translation as he can. What drove