Much of my reading project over the last four years has been devoted to targeted reading in the deep and diverse well of the Reformed Catholic tradition. I’ll continue to do so in other avenues, but in 2022 year I wanted to intentionally read outside my tradition. Specifically, I want to read outside the white, European-descended Presbyterian tradition. Instead of focusing on the works of an individual author, I am going to read a variety of works mostly representing theological perspectives of the “Majority World”. The Majority World is a term used to describe the majority of the global population that resides outside of the Western World (Australia, Europe, New Zealand, North America). I also be reading a few books on the African American Christian experience; of course Black Americans are part of the Western world and tradition, but the African American church represents a distinct theological approach within that tradition for which I have done very little direct reading, to which I want to devote time.
The most important work in this reading is Majority World Theology: Christian Doctrine in Global Perspective. It has six parts, each containing a series of essays, with each part having been previously published as individual volumes. Below is the rough schedule I plan on following…
Three thoughts on David Brooks’ recent and otherwise excellent “What Happened to American Conservatism?” over at The Atlantic.
First, conservatism naturally requires love of place and people. Conservatism values sentiments cultivated rightly, which happens through people and societies that are not interchangeable. The sentiments in-cultured by the English village are not the same as the sentiments cultivated by the open the expanse of west Texas. Certain values may be held in common, but the means of that cultivation is specific to concrete, enfleshed peoples and traditions. The habituation of communities also instills love of those communities. Conservatives love their communities (neighborhoods, cultural histories, states, nations, families, churches) because they have been formed by them. It is loving your father and mother, civilizationally…
John Owen gives his answer in Vol. 1 on his commentary on Hebrews, in Part 2, Excercitation VII.14.
Preliminarily, Owen establishes that God may have justly rescued angels from their sin, but that justice does not obligate God to do so. While the same could be said for God’s redemption of man, there is such a difference between the original transgressions of angels and men that God’s righteousness is more gloriously displayed in withholding rescue from one, and that this reflects good concern for God’s glory being displayed in universe.
1. Angels were created in a higher state than man, in the highest heaven, while man was placed on earth. Earth is good and suitable to man, but not as glorious as heaven.
2. In heaven angels were tasked with attending the throne of God, to minister to him, give glory to him, to execute his commands of providence, all of which together are the highest honors given to creatures. Man was given the duty of cultivating the ground, which while good, is below the vocation of angels.
3. Angels enjoyed the immediate presence of God without a mediator resembling themselves. Man was kept at a greater distance and without such direct communion with God.
At this point Owen affirms that this does not excuse the grievousness of man’s sin, but greatly aggravates the wickedness, ingratitude, and pride of the angels…
John Adams thought that his Thanksgiving proclamation cost him reelection. Or at least that’s what he told Benjamin Rush in an 1812 letter. During his term in office, Adams had asked that Americans mark Thursday April 25 “as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer.” He wanted the American people to give thanks to God for “the countless favors which He is still continuing to the people of the United States, and which render their condition as a nation eminently happy when compared with the lot of others.”
You might be thinking: Why would this mark him for electoral disaster? Presidents now announce their forthcoming attempts to subvert Congress with a pen and a phone, or join the nation to semi-treaties, or declare war with a Declaration of War. Why in the world would the use of the 18th-century presidential bully-quill be such a misstep?
Well . . . it made him look like a Presbyterian. Adams said that Presbyterians had “allarmed and alienated Quakers, Anabaptists, Mennonists, Moravians, Sweedenborgians, Methodist, Catholicks, Protestant Episcopalians, Arians Socinians, Arminians . . .” and that “a general Suspicion prevailed that the Presbyterian Church . . . aimed at an Establishment as a National Church.” All that fasting and thanksgiving on a marked day. Mighty suspicious.
-Michael Brendan Dougherty in today’s National Review. This made me laugh.
It will surely seem retro—perhaps even countercultural—in an era of massive open online courses and distance learning to build an actual school in an actual building with as few screens as possible. But sometimes there is wisdom in things that have endured.
We believe human beings think and learn better when they gather in dedicated locations, where they are, to some extent, insulated from the quotidian struggle to make ends meet, and where there is no fundamental distinction between those who teach and those who learn, beyond the extent of their knowledge and wisdom.
We believe that the purpose of education is not simply employment, but human flourishing.
Creating an alternative the universities that profess the search for truth as their guiding value, while simultaneously squelching dissenting viewpoints or even persons, is something that needed to be done.
Yet UATX’s emphasis on being fiercely independent even includes being fiercely independent from any religious affiliation. From a Christian perspective, detaching pursuit of truth from the person of truth only leads to the very problem that UATX is trying to escape, namely a Nietzschean dynamic of power determining the limits of truthful acceptability. Pursuing a liberal arts education committed to a libertarian freedom of inquiry and speech without a commitment to formation in the common good as expressed in the Christian faith only gets your students as far as the University of Chicago, not to human flourishing. It’s as if the UATX team looked at the current situation in academia and only took one step back without considering that they are now standing on the launching pad for the very kind of institutions they want to avoid becoming.
I’m sure the United States could use more truly liberal art universities, but I do wonder what drove this group to the costly endeavor of forming UATX instead of investing in some of the really “fiercely independent” schools out there already, such as Hillsdale and Grove City. The announcement of UATX is reminiscent of when a faction splits off from a mainline church to form their own group rather than joining one of the many already in existence. It hints that there may, in fact, be motivating factors connected to power, rather than liberality, driving the project.