Essay / Culture

Why Read? By Eva Brann

This speech was originally given on March 3, 2016, by Professor Eva Brann of St. John’s College (Annapolis), as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series at the Torrey Honors Institute. The following is an excerpt. A link to her full speech is available on Open

Essay / Philosophy

Relationship Status: Best Friends with Myself

This week I had the opportunity to spend 12 hours discussing the topic of friendship with my students, guided by Aristotle’s work on the subject. While we found much that he says to be rich and helpful, one particular insight led to hours of fruitful

Essay / Education

Torrey Christmas Card, Interpreted

This year for our Christmas card, the faculty and staff of the Torrey Honors Institute chose a winter theme. This sent us all to our closets and garages to find coats, scarves, and hats that don’t get much use here in Southern California. One of

Essay / Philosophy

Boethius and Divine Simplicity

Perhaps you have heard of the term “divine simplicity.” The basic meaning is that God is one – he has no distinct or separate parts that can in any way be in conflict with each other. Often this doctrine is employed in the context of

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