For Liberality, Against Parsimonious Liberalism

Instead of the virtues of classical republicanism, the romance of nationalism, the ructions of democracy, many modern liberals give us a vision of an Open Society that is informed by the dreams of Communism itself, a withering away of nationality, religions, social distinctions, and even the family that occurs underneath the tutelage of liberal democratic capitalism rather than a Communist party. That is why, so often, the legal suppressions aimed at Christianity are aimed at things like the principled refusal to profit from one’s labor. None of these cases involve the systematic and conspiratorial deprivation of goods, as Jim Crow did. What offends the modern liberal is something else. The mere assertion of a higher good beyond the Open Society, and beyond ourselves, something higher than profit, is itself counted as an injury, as treasonous.

Michael Brendan Dougherty

The Commodification of God

Commodification has led most people to view God as a device to be used rather than an all-powerful Creator to be revered. This also explains our abundant and careless words about him. Is it any surprise that a divine butler would fail to provoke reverent silence? What need is there to rein in one’s tongue if God is merely a cosmic therapist? The god of Consumer Christianity does not inspire awe and wonder because he is nothing more than a commodity to be used for our personal satisfaction and self-achievement.

— The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity” by Skye Jethani

Review: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

I am somewhat torn as to my reaction. I really enjoyed it for about 75% but then it felt like it was dragging a bit.
But no sooner had I begun to feel that, it cranked up the tension and I stayed up late to finish it. I guess I am more on the positive (some nearly gushing) reviews spectrum than I am on the negative. But, perhaps because I am not all that knowledgeable about science fiction or speculative fiction, I can’t quite see the profound and literary masterpiece some have found.

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Rowan Williams: the case for blasphemy

If you are forbidden to voice the hard questions, this might suggest that faith survives only by never being challenged. The person who actually expresses their fury or disgust or disillusion can, at least sometimes, be demonstrating faith of a sort, confidence that, if God is real, it is possible, even necessary, to say what you feel about Him – and that, unless you can say this, the God you started with is not worth believing in. This underpins many of the Jewish Psalms or the poems of George Herbert or Gerard Manley Hopkins. Blasphemy resists the conspiracy of silence about the agonising difficulties of belief, resists the stifling of a real and honest response to an unjust world.

Source: Rowan Williams: the case for blasphemy

The three big stories of modernity

So far there have been three widely influential stories about the rise of modernity: the Emancipatory, the Protestant, and the Neo-Thomist. The Emancipatory account argues that modernity is fundamentally about the use of rediscovered classical learning, especially the Skeptics and Epicureans in their literary and philosophical modes, to liberate European Man from bondage to a power-hungry church and religious superstition. The Protestant account argues that modernity marks the moment when rediscovered biblical languages reconnected people with the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ, obscured for many centuries by those same power-hungry priests and by the obscurantist pedantries of Scholastic philosophy. The Neo-Thomist account argues that what the others portray as liberation or deliverance was instead a tragedy, an unwarranted rebellion against a church that, while flawed, had managed to achieve by the high Middle Ages a unity of thought, feeling, and action — manifest in the poetry of Dante, the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, and the great cathedrals of the era — that gave great aid, comfort, and understanding to generations of people, the high and the low alike.

— Alan Jacobs