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Incapable of doubt, incapable of faithThe majority of mankind is lazy-minded, incurious, absorbed in vanities, and tepid in emotion, and is therefore incapable of either much doubt or much faith. -- T.S. Eliot, Introduction (1931), Pascal's "Pensees"
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Problem or Mystery?A problem is something which I meet, which I find completely before me, but which I can therefore lay siege to and reduce. But a mystery is something in which I am myself involved, and it can therefore only be thought of as a sphere where the distinction between what is in me and what is before me loses its meaning and initial validity. -- Gabriel Marcel
Our Ways of Understanding"Our ways of understanding have been collective, beginning with the stories that we told each other around the fire when we lived in caves. Our ways today are still collective, including literature, history, art, music, religion, and science." - Freeman Dyson
"Referee won't blow the whistle / God is good but will he listen?" -- U2
- "When someone opposes me, he arouses my attention, not my anger. I go to meet a man who contradicts me, who instructs me. The cause of truth should be the common cause of both." -- Montaigne
- "If your anger decreases with time, you did injustice; if it increases, you suffered injustice." -- Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- "And the missionaries, they tell us we will be left behind. / Been left behind a thousand times, a thousand times." -- Arcade Fire
Wittgenstein on Kierkegaard
"Kierkegaard was by far the most profound thinker of the[nineteenth] century. Kierkegaard was a saint." - Ludwig Wittgenstein, to his friend Maurice Drury.
Read Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard: Religion, Individuality, and Philosophical Method by Charles L. Creegan free online.
- Every Day Awe: Stacy Murison on Brian Doyle November 29, 2016
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- Watch: Battle of the Hamlets with Benedict Cumberbatch, David Tennant, Prince Charles ETC April 25, 2016
- Poem of the Day: FLEX February 20, 2019Hear me Neglect turned everything to gold Midas touch I turn the comfortable To the dead an anti-elegy tho I’m Learning not to mourn what I make It’s a complex this gravity I birth unknowing Not my complex yours say it I am owned by several things all of them Inherited from a horizon claimed before I was languaged Invoke the […]Julian Randall
- Poem of the Day: FLEX February 20, 2019
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- Poem of the Day: From Citizen: “You are in the dark, in the car...” February 20, 2019
- Reference February 20, 2019[Revised entry by Eliot Michaelson and Marga Reimer on February 19, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Reference is a relation that obtains between certain sorts of representational tokens and objects. For instance, when I assert that "Barack Obama is a Democrat," I use a particular sort of representational token - i.e. the name […]Eliot Michaelson and Marga Reimer
- Imprecise Probabilities February 20, 2019[Revised entry by Seamus Bradley on February 19, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, supplement-formal.html, supplement-historical.html] It has been argued that imprecise probabilities are a natural and intuitive way of overcoming some of the issues with orthodox precise probabilities. Models of this type have a long pedigree, and interest in such mod […]Seamus Bradley
- Reference February 20, 2019
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- Go to brunch instead. February 19, 2019Share and Enjoy: The post Go to brunch instead. appeared first on Indexed.Jessica Hagy
- Go to brunch instead. February 19, 2019
Liturgy For The PeopleThe liturgy is essentially not the religion of the cultured, but the religion of the people. If the people are rightly instructed, and the liturgy is properly carried out, they display a simple and profound understanding of it. For the people do not analyze concepts, but contemplate. The people possess that inner integrity of being which corresponds perfectly with the symbolism of the liturgical language, imagery, action and ornaments. The cultured man has first of all to accustom himself to this attitude; but to the people it has always been inconceivable that religion should express itself by abstract ideas and logical developments, and not by being and action, by imagery and ritual. --Romano Guardini, "The Awakening of the Church in the Soul"
- Why Jesus died on two different days, at two different times, according to the Scriptures
- New books: What Martin Luther thought about prayer beads
- Richard Hooker versus the Puritan position -- more about the Anglican view of Scripture, Reason & Tradition
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- Don W. King on Ruth Pitter, poet and friend of C.S. Lewis
- Voltaire remained a practicing Roman Catholic to the end
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- Does Christianity claim exclusive access to 'truth'?
Arts and humansArt is the signature of man. -G.K. Chesterton
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The Anguished QuestionIf you really enquire about God, not with mere curiosity, not, as it were, like a spiritual stamp collector, but as an anxious seeker, distressed in heart, anguished by the possibility that God might not exist and hence all life be vanity and one great madness -- if you ask in such a mood as the man who asks the doctor, "Tell me, will my wife live or will she die?"-- if you ask thus about God, then you know already that God exists; the anguished question bears witness that you know. -- Emil Brunner, "Our Faith"
Category Archives: Christian Humanism
“Since one of the signs of the Divine Nature is its essential incomprehensibility, in this also must the copy be like the original. For were the nature of the copy comprehended, when the original was above comprehension, the copy would be a mistaken one. But, inasmuch as the nature of our spirit is above our understanding, it has here an exact resemblance of the all-sublime, representing by its own unfathomableness the incomprehensible Being of God.” — Gregory of Nyssa, quoted in The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto
According to the Orthodox Church in America, Gregory of Nyssa was “[e]ndowed with philosophical talent” and “saw philosophy as a means for a deeper penetration into the authentic meaning of divine revelation.”
My intended audience consists of the U.S. evangelicals and fundamentalists I’ve known my entire life in various church, school, home-school, and para-ministry circles.
I’ve previously quoted scholars on the numerous similarities between Christianity and the Mithra mystery cult—similarities uncanny and striking for people who with a conservative, evangelical/fundamentalist perspective.
I hadn’t been looking, but I recently found another presentation of the similarities between the Mithra mystery cult and Christianity—along with a startling analysis of why Christianity carried on while its competitor, so similar, died out.
A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across Religious Platonism by James K. Feibleman, who at the time of publication taught at Tulane University.
(The time of the book’s publication is its own quick story. I had been talking to my students about the currency of sources. Feibleman’s book first was published in 1959, and the copy I found was published in 1971. Is the scholarship still current? Probably: A quick search showed a respected academic publisher had reissued Religious Platonism in 2013.)
The subtitle of the 1971 edition is The Influence of Religion on Plato and the Influence of Plato on Religion, so it includes a short section on Mithraism to which I was drawn because of my previous reading. It includes both a list of similarities and a brief history of their relationship.
“There are many features of the Mithraic mysteries which are reminiscent of the Orphic and Dionysiac cults. But the later religion of Christianity shared even more striking parallels with it. The use of the idea of brotherhood, purification by baptism, communion, a Lord’s Supper, a birth of the saviour on December 25th, a sabbath on Sunday, an asceticism of abstinence and continence, a heaven and a hell, a flood early in history, immortality of the soul, a last judgment, a resurrection of the dead, a mediating Logos which was one of a trinity, and many other resemblances which have often been noted. [This last sentence is footnoted to The Mysteries of Mithra by Franz Cumont.]
“After Constantine had proclaimed Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, Mithraism suffered persecution but returned again under Julian the Apostate (A.D. 331-353). This was its last victory. As soon as the Christians were securely in power, they invoked the same kind of violence against their enemies, chiefly in other religions, especially Mithraism, that those enemies had invoked against them. Mithraism never again achieved the position of power it held in the third century. By the fourth century Christianity was sufficiently entrenched to enable it to do unto others what had been done unto it, and ‘the Christians, in order to render places contaminated by the presence of a dead body ever afterwards unfit for worship, sometimes slew the refractory priests of Mithras and buried them in the ruins of their sanctuaries, now forever profaned’ [Cumont]. The victory of Christianity was arranged through violence and fixed by establishment, won by the sword and made permanent by philosophy. For the fourth century that saw the ruthless destruction of Mithraism by the Christians saw also the adoption of Platonism by St. Augustine.
“The doom of Mithraism and the triumph of Christianity were spelled out in advance in their relations to Platonism. Mithraism had no relations with Greek culture and so was never able to avail itself of the support of rationalism in general and of Platonism in particular. It could not meet the challenge of a rival—and strikingly similar—religion which availed itself of these supports.”
This is all fascinating and frightening. Again, “For the fourth century that saw the ruthless destruction of Mithraism by the Christians saw also the adoption of Platonism by St. Augustine.”
And, “The doom of Mithraism and the triumph of Christianity were spelled out in advance in their relations to Platonism.” Wow.
From ten years ago — Happy Halloween, and Happy Reformation Day.
I am not among the anti-Halloween scaremongers and killjoys, yet I wish more people also knew the last day of October as Reformation Day.
This is a bit obligatory: On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his not-so-anti-papal Ninety-Five Theses on an important door in Wittenberg, Germany, and that act more or less marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
These days, however, Wittenberg is only 10 percent Protestant.
The German news outlet Spiegel Online reports:
Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Reformation in the German city of Wittenberg 500 years ago. But, today, only 10 percent of its population is Protestant. Church leaders have launched a major drive to change that — but have come up against the city’s communist past.
It’s impossible to walk through Wittenberg, also known as “Luther City,” without stumbling across reminders of Martin Luther. There’s the “Luther oak,” then Luther Street, which leads to…
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“What Goethe meant by this ‘inner necessity and truth’ is what his younger contemporary, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, spoke of as ‘facts of mind.’ For both Goethe and Coleridge, the imagination was not merely a loosening of reason and a setting free of uncontrolled fantasy—as the Enlightenment regarded it—but a cognitive power that obeyed its own rules and disciplines.” — Gary Lachman, in Lost Knowledge of the Imagination