Happy New Year — Does Even God Know the Future?


Happy New Year! Does God know the future? Physicist, theologian, and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne thinks He might not. In the following short video excerpt of a longer interview for Closer to the Truth, Polkinghorne talks about the classical Christian view held by Augustine and Aquinas, and then offers his alternative point of view.

While we’re at it, why not listen to Polkinghorne define “time” for a different interview with Closer to the Truth? Here he also touches on theology and God’s knowledge of the future:

James K.A. Smith: ‘We were created for stories’


Two of the most-clicked posts on this blog have been Paul Holmer: How literature functions and Umberto Eco on theory and narrative. The common theme between the two might be that storytelling is not only necessary, but also of greater value than systematized and abstracted knowledge. Granted, the structure of Eco’s quotation seems to give priority to theorizing, but Holmer argues that humans learn more broadly and deeply from stories than from abstract or systematic knowledge.

So a quotation from James K.A. Smith’s book Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church,  found in this recent review, was a welcome addition to the theme:

“We were created for stories, not propositions; for drama, not bullet points.”

In this context, it’s probably worth remembering that beloved storyteller C.S. Lewis warned against systematizing the Bible.

When You Don’t Know Any Prayers


“He began crawling toward the dark hallway arch. Ozzie had never taught him or Diana any prayers, so he whispered the words of religious Christmas carols…”

From the novel Last Call (1992) by Tim Powers

Consciousness, Culture, and Art: Informal Comments on an Imagist Poem by William Carlos Williams


In part of this post on William Carlos Williams’s poem “The Pot,” Thomas F. Bertonneau suggests meaning is bigger than mere associations between things, images, ideas, etc. He seems to be saying the ability to make meanings has its source in common grace. “Meaning is not only a type of synchronicity; it is a type of Grace. It takes an occasion, such as the careful composition of ‘The Pot,’ to bestow itself, although undeserved, on the percipient. A sense of this drove the humanities at their constitution, but as Western culture has gradually repudiated basic notions like the beauty that is truth lauded by Keats in his Ode, as it has expelled the supernatural, the Christianized sacred, and the pre-Christian sacred, it has impoverished itself of meaning, which it now in fact disdains, pretending to ‘deconstruct’ it. In the 1980s, when I attended graduate school in Comparative Literature at UCLA, the old guard of the professoriate still clung vestigially to the institutions of meaning; they still urged their young acolytes to acquire as much knowledge as possible so that as many things as possible might at any moment be brought into constellation by an instance of meaning.”

The Orthosphere

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The poem to which this essay’s subtitle refers is one of the much-excerpted and much anthologized verse-interpolations in the Menippean combination of verse and prose, Spring and All (1921), that the New Jersey poet William Carlos Williams (1883 – 1963) produced at the acme of his self-consciously Imagist phase in the years after the First World War.  The poem carries no title, but, according to the tenets of Imagism, presents itself to the reader as an instance of res ipso loquitur or “the thing speaks for itself.”  In a later phase of his insistent creativity, Williams would adopt as his poetic motto the formula, “no ideas but in things,” the implication of which is that experience is not solipsistic, nor consciousness hermetic, but that any self-aware navigation of the world presupposes an intentional relation between the navigator and the world that he navigates, which he records as…

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Footnote: Blog Stats at the End of the Semester


I just took some time out from the final grading crunch to peek at my stats. It’s interesting to see which blog posts get hits during the end of the semester—more interesting than some of the stuff I’m grading.

To be clear, I don’t think the hits come from the university where I teach, but based on stats, I think it’s fairly obvious students near and far are searching the Internet for sources and backgrounds.

I don’t see huge numbers, but I see some definite clusters. Of particular interest at the end of the semester are my previous posts here about Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, Descartes, Kierkegaard, Chekhov, Bart Ehrman, Stoicism, and Paul Holmer on how literature functions. Last week, I even saw a referring link from a plagiarism-detection site, suggesting that, whether someone gave proper credit or not, info in one of my links appeared in a research paper.

More pleasantly, and probably not due to college students, another trending post is “The Cultivation of Christmas Trees” by T.S. Eliot.

Now, for me, it’s back to grading fiction portfolios.

Four Brief Quotations About the Urgency of Living


I can’t remember the name of the book where I found these, but I thought they were worth snapping —

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Status


Status is its own mode of self-destruction.

It depends not upon the self’s improvements, nor the soul’s refinements, nor God’s blessings, nor Fortune’s smiles, but upon the variable winds of others’ opinions. Status is tasty and unreliable. Instead, seek selfhood.