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The Nicene Creed: A Brief Introduction

Posted by on Jun 13, 2016 | 0 comments

Written in 325 CE, and amended in 381, the Nicene Creed has been the standard of orthodoxy since its origin. Outside of the Bible, it is the single most important text of the Christian faith. Unlike the Apostle’s Creed, which is a statement of an individual’s faith traditionally recited at their baptism, the Nicene Creed is a communal affirmation, and as such it is a proclamation of worship that unites the Church under one doctrine.

Can Hermeneutics be Ethical? Ricoeur and the War

Posted by on Jun 7, 2016 | 1 comment

A few weeks ago, Barney wrote a post about Ricoeur and his mistaken pacifism.[1] Barney’s article left me with questions that led me to do some research. This research, in turn, led me beyond the specific issue of Ricoeur’s change of heart to the broader question of the relationship between his philosophy and politics. I found two pertinent articles: David Kaplan’s “Paul Ricoeur and the Nazis,” a response to “Paul Ricoeur as Another” by Richard Wolin, in which Wolin questions the political implications of Ricoeur’s hermeneutics, and relationship between his philosophy and ethics.[2] That Ricoeur changed his mind on a political issue in interesting; what is more interesting is the question of whether his passivity and (as Wolin sees it) pro-Vichy politics are the result of his philosophical views. Pacifism in the inter-war years in France, John Taylor explains, stemmed from the French view of war—that another was likely.[3] Ricoeur’s pre-war pacifism arose from his doubt regarding the expansionism...

George Herbert, the Church, and the Self

Posted by on May 31, 2016 | 0 comments

  George Herbert was a Welsh poet and priest born in 1593 to landed aristocracy. His mother, Magdalene Herbert, was the Gertrude Stein of the 17th century English literary scene; Herbert grew up associating with the best and the ablest writers of his age. He could count as friends John Donne, Lancelot Andrews, and Francis Bacon. His brother Sir Edward is known as the father of English deists, whose book de Veritate sought to prove that true religion was composed of five “common notions,” as any more would be excessive.[1] Edward was a hot-blooded monarchist who once fought off six assassins with a broken sword.[2] George Herbert was the opposite of Edward. He was one of the brightest Latin minds of his generation. He was elected orator at Cambridge. He gave speeches in Latin before King James and Prince Charles. He taught rhetoric. By all accounts George Herbert should have become Secretary of State. So, how he ended up becoming...

Pacifism and Politics: The Tank and the Letter

Posted by on May 3, 2016 | 2 comments

One has to be careful not to project onto the past what is known to have occurred later, as if, in those days, people had before them two alternatives, with full knowledge of their consequences. We have to admit that certain choices were made in a kind of fog.[1] The most famous pacifist whom Hitler prompted to change his mind was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As is well known, Bonhoeffer concluded that pacifism, while almost always the right approach, could on rare occasions become a way of avoiding responsibility for the hard decisions politicians have to make. But Paul Ricoeur had a similar trajectory. Years before becoming famous as a gentle and irenic philosopher, Ricoeur was a militant pacifist and Marxist, writing revolutionary tracts in French socialist journals.[2] In the 1930s he and his circle demanded that France lay down her arms and not engage in any warfare. We should learn our lesson from the First World War, they said: conflict of...

The Myth of the Christ Figure

Posted by on Apr 26, 2016 | 3 comments

  Mythological embodiment is a common allusion used in everyday English. A Herculean task is something that is difficult to accomplish, an Achilles’ Heel is a weak spot, and if someone has a Midas touch then she is able create success out of anything she sets out to do. Allusions are used in order to maintain a distance between the subject and the thing that gives the allusion meaning. For example, if I were to call you my nemesis I am not actually calling you a Greek goddess sent to punish me, what I am saying is you are my bitter enemy who will do everything within your power to cause my downfall. In doing so I am doing two things. The first is I am acknowledging the gap between the language and the object that gives the language meaning. The second thing I am doing is stripping the mythology from the allusion; I am, in a sense, humanizing...