Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ken Pennington on Torture

Ken Pennington, professor of ecclesiastical and legal history at CUA, provides a ton of resources on his website for the history of medieval canon law. I just found an article that he wrote, published in 2008 in Rivista internazionale di diritto comune. From the article, "Torture and Fear: Enemies of Justice":

I shall make the following points in this essay. 1. Torture has always had a shabby reputation and has never been trusted as a reliable method of obtaining evidence from the very beginnings of its appearance in jurisprudence. 2. Fear of torture has been considered torture for almost 700 years. 3. Torture has always been limited in every legal system that has used it lawfully. 4. The courts have generally used torture to confirm evidence, not to produce evidence. 5. Lastly, people who are ignorant of torture’s history, jurisprudence, and practice have drafted treaties, written memos, and approved its use against other human beings. I will argue that the history of torture provides much evidence that it is a fatally flawed procedure for producing evidence that can be used in the courtroom. We should be morally outraged by a government that permits torture and by a judicial system or government agency that uses torture. However, an equally strong argument can be made against torture on practical grounds. After centuries of practice, jurists who had seen and lived with torture in the judicial system decided that it just did not work.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

May 2009 issue of Ecclesiastical Law Journal...

...is out. Following are the research articles and their abstracts:


‘Transformative Accommodation’ and Religious Law
Bernard Jackson, pp 131-153
This paper examines the concept of ‘transformative accommodation’, which the Archbishop of Canterbury invoked in his February 2008 lecture on ‘Civil and religious law in England’, stressing the need for both the state and religious communities to contemplate internal change. Although he made no substantive proposals on jurisdictional issues, this proved the focus of subsequent public comment. I suggest that jurisdictional issues cannot be avoided, despite the diplomatic interest in doing so, as may be seen from a reading of the January 2008 European Islamic ‘Charter of Values’. Missing from the debate thus far is consideration of the (necessarily theological) criteria for accommodation within religious communities. I seek to provide a preliminary discussion of such criteria from the viewpoint of Jewish law. First, an outline of some published research on religious marriage in Judaism and Christianity is provided as a case study. I then sketch the jurisdictional situation in the modern State of Israel, before considering the possibilities for transformative accommodation in English law, in the light of the preceding analysis. A brief conclusion indicates some questions that the analysis might pose for Christianity.


More Turbulence? Clerical Misconduct under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003
Rupert Bursell, pp 154-168
Details of complaints under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 are beginning to come into the public domain. In particular, they raise questions as to the appropriate penalties to be imposed on a respondent, although even more worrying may be the anecdotal misunderstanding among some of the clergy about the moral behaviour expected of them. In addition, procedural questions remain that are not addressed in the written determinations. Such questions include the proper interest in making, and the motive behind, a complaint; the admissibility of hearsay evidence to support a complaint; and episcopal intervention and the bishop's role in reaching his decision.



Engaging with the State for the Common Good: Some Reflections on the Role of the Church
Peter Smith, pp 169-180
The Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church establishes the right of the Church to proclaim the Gospel and expound it, and to proclaim moral principles especially when this is required by fundamental rights or ‘for the salvation of souls’ (Canon 747). While this was taken for granted for centuries, society and culture have undergone rapid and extensive changes, especially over the last forty years. From what was once a Christian society and culture, we have moved to a multicultural and secular society, and have seen the rise of ‘ideological secularism’. The place of religion and religious values in the public forum is being questioned, and an aggressive secularism seeks to reduce religion and its practice to the private sphere. However, a healthy secularity should recognise both the autonomy of the state from control by the Church and also the right of the Church to proclaim its teaching and comment on social issues for the common good of humanity. This right is recognised in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. From the Church's point of view, this right was recognised for all religions in the Second Vatican Council's ‘Declaration on Religious Liberty’. We must defend that right because the Church exists not for its own sake but for the sake of humanity.


Religious Symbols in Spain: A Legal Perspective
Santiago Cañamares Arribas, pp 181-193
In Spain, immigration has been one of the main reasons for a significant number of conflicts regarding the use of religious symbols. In this context, the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Spanish Constitution are expected to play a very important role as a criterion to solve these tensions. However, a more accurate response is provided by case law, where the variety of circumstances that surround each conflictual situation can be taken into account to reach the best solution.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A few items...

  • Mark C. Taylor has an op-ed in the New York Times about the state of higher education in America and some actions for its improvement. His suggestions are a bit far-fetched in places, but it's good fodder for thought. U.S. Intellectual History picks up the piece, discussion presumably to ensue.
  • Wipf&Stock is reprinting the 1951 study of George Williams on the Norman Anonymous, a work I only became familiar with a few days ago while researching for a possible paper on John of Salisbury's political thought. This group of tracts was significant for the English Investiture Controversy at the turn of the twelfth century.
  • Joshua discusses a recent lecture from Miroslav Volf on the doctrine of God in Christianity and Islam.
  • Ashgate is publishing a festschrift for Peter Brown, Transformations of Late Antiquity. In the process of looking for a link on this, I also ran into a new blog dedicated to Peter Brown and featuring some good pictures & bibliography.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Articles from Vasileios Syros and James J. Cassidy

I'm reading two new articles that I thought worth a mention here.

Vasileios Syros, "Absalom's Revolt and Value-Neutral Advice in Profiat Duran" History of Political Thought, XXX.1 (2009), pp. 60-74.

Dr. Syros is my professor for Medieval Mirrors for Princes this semester, and mentioned the Absalom narrative briefly one day in class as an exempla in political advice literature. Here he lays out its use in Profiat Duran (d. 1414 or 15) a Jewish thinker. While Absalom and his counsellers are often depicted negatively (as in Augustine, Peter Lombard, Dante, etc.), there is a tradition of literature in political thought lifting up the episode of his revolt as exemplary, and especially the advice of Ahitophel, which when unheeded led to Absalom's downfall. Syros connects the thought of Duran with that of Maimonides in how it upholds the relativity of "goodness", which must be situated in relation to the end that is sought. The distinction between this political reading and the moralizing purposes of much traditional exegesis sheds important light on the reception of this episode. Normally it is through the interpretative lens of the rape of Tamar that Absalom is viewed (as well as the privileged position of David in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic thought), but Absalom's revolt as a retribution for David's sins has also been a live option, as has the "value-neutral advice" literature discussed in this article.


James J. Cassidy, "Election and Trinity", The Westminster Theological Journal, 71.1 (2009), pp. 53-81.

I was surprised to find this article in WTJ... it's a discussion of the current debate over election in Barth studies. I haven't finished the article, but Cassidy lays out the arguments of McCormack, Hunsinger, and Molnar, and then discusses Barth's work in response to them. The most unique aspect of this article is surely his introduction of Cornelius Van Til and Geerhardus Vos to the question in section 5.

Cassidy compares the whole affair to the Braun-Gollwitzer debate that Jüngel attempted to mediate and says, "To be sure, the swinging pendulum between the contenders is reflective of Barth's dialectical framework. In fact, the debate itself, rather than one side of the argument or the other, captures the true meaning of dialectical theology. If Barth were alive today watching it all unforld before him, we might imagine him sitting there, smoking his pipe, nodding his head, and thinking to himself, 'Exactly.'" (77) That said, Cassidy also comes down on a particular side: "in this debate there are two mutually exclusive positions: a position that proves itself to be a more accurate interpretation of Barth, and a position that proves itself to be closer to the historic Christian position on the matter." (53) ...an assessment, I suppose, that even McCormack wouldn't be overly opposed to if it weren't for the additional accusation of Eutychianism that goes along with bucking the historic position!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Two reference books on Augustine to keep an eye on

I don’t know when either of these will be published, but have seen a few references to them.

The Blackwell Companion to Augustine, edited by Mark Vessey. Chapters include “Controversialist: Augustine in Combat", by Caroline Humpress of Birbeck College, “Augustine’s Myth of Will”, by James Wetzel of Villanova, “Augustine and the Latin Classics” by Danuta Shanzer of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, “Augustine and Scripture” by Michael Cameron of University of Portland. That’s all the info I can find from CVs and draft chapters scattered online.

After Augustine is a research project from the University of St. Andrews that appears to be the source of an upcoming multi-volume encyclopedia subtitled The Historical Reception of Augustine, with Karla Pollmann and Willemien Otten as general editors. An Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine is apparently coming out (scroll down to Diana Stanciu’s publications) and listed as edited by Karla Pollmann, surely the same work. I’ve seen it listed on various contributors' CVs with a 2008 and 2009 publication date. I’m assuming this is all one project and these are just pre-pub loose ends. Keep an eye out for this when it comes. It looks like it will be substantial.

I know some Augustine folks read the blog- do you know anything else about these projects? Are you contributing entries to either?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A few items...

  • The Parker Library has been working on an online digitization project of medieval manuscripts in the Corpus Christi Library of Cambridge University. They've just released version 0.8, their last version prior to the first production version scheduled to be released in October. Registration for the database is free right now... I just registered this morning and will be sure to explore a bit. If I understand correctly, access to the database will still be free after October, but an institutional subscription will be required for further access beyond basic image viewing and title browsing.
  • The first English translation of Calvin's 1541 Institutes is out from Eeerdmans. Elsie Anne McKee translates the work from the French.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Brian Leiter tries his hand at parody...

...readers cringe at the way he pits "religious" against "atheist" and seems to think it's clever when it's really SO pre-post-secular.

I follow Leiter Reports as a way of staying plugged into the philosophical community, and I know enough about it to know that he has his opinions on a few things regarding religion. Leiter has taken up a lot of time lately with the APA non-discrimination policy (I think I linked it some time back in February when Charles Hermes brought it up), and here he parodies a defense of religious institutions' prerogative to hold a restrictive institutional stance on sexual practices.

The funny thing is, I can't imagine Hoekema or others would have a serious problem with the parody that Leiter presents. Their whole point is that in a sectarian situation such community norms are reasonably respected given that they are reasonably coherent and justified. They may not be universally convincing, but really, there's no reason for them to be. The point, in fact, is that they aren't. (ironically, that's the point of much non-discrimination talk too, until one moves into the territory of commonsense pronouncements about what equity or decency demands)

I think Leiter's parody might carry more water in Great Britain. There it strikes me that there really is a fight amongst atheism and the religions for outright legitimacy as a reasonable ordering of things. But here, in the U.S.? This is the Wild West, and while the sectarian/non-sectarian distinction is often unhelpful, there's no denying that U.S. soil is often more fertile ground for a reasonable pluralism than places where a particular tradition inhabits a more central role in determining public legitimacy. The argument over non-discrimination is being made by a sectarian constituency that a non-sectarian academic society should let it do its thing within reasonable bounds. Nobody's getting upset that opposing communal concerns are opposed... the religious institutions are not attempting to argue that a secular or atheist policy is illegitimate as institutional practice. They's simply saying that a non-sectarian academic society should refrain from such legitimizing and delegitimizing actions as far as is reasonable.



(by the way, I think this is Leiter's parody based on the url... apologies if I misattributed and he's simply re-posting)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A publisher worth checking out...

I've just discovered Aristide D. Caratzas/Melissa International Ltd., although they're not a new outfit. I believe that this is the same publisher as Caratzas Brothers, and I'm assuming there was a name change or management shift somewhere in the '80s or '90s.

Caratzas/Melissa offers a wides selection of titles spanning from ancient and medieval to modern, mostly within the Mediterranean and Eastern European world with a strong emphasis on Greece. There's no particular focus on religion or theology, but there is a good bit to be found in these subjects. They also publish a College Classical Series that may be of interest. The focus strikes me as more cultural and historical where a publisher like Duckworth leans more philosophical, although it does share the linguistic/textual focus of Duckworth.

Does anyone know anything further about Caratzas? I'll be sure to keep an eye on them and bring up any helpful titles or news as I see it.


Friday, April 17, 2009

A quick note...

I added a "Followers" box a few days ago to the blog... no followers yet. Such is the difficulty of adding applications late, I suppose. Please "follow" my blog so I look more popular! For the life of me I can't figure out what the difference is between following someone and tracking them on Google reader, but it looked like an app worth having. You can find the box down on the right-hand side, below the list of tags.

The art of He Qi


The Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College is hosting an exhibit of the art of He Qi entitled Look Toward the Heavens. The works are of biblical scenes and employ a beautiful style of color-on-paper painting.

Here is his online gallery, where you can view the paintings. He Qi is visiting for the annual theology conference where he'll be speaking and was present to sign posters of his work. Tricia and I purchased Finding Moses this afternoon.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Two conferences...

...coincidentally using the same spatial imagery in their titles.

  • The government department of University of Texas at Austin is hosting a conference on political theology. Apparently anticipating the center not holding at Notre Dame this autumn, they've titled their conference for next winter The Absent Center. (Is this a Žižekian reference? Is Žižek's subtitle a reference to the Yeats line that the Nanovic Institute uses? I'm neither trendy nor well-read enough to answer these questions)

Here's a description. Note that you have a few months on this one:

A Graduate Student Conference on Contemporary Issues in Political Theology
University of Texas at Austin, Government Department
19-20 February 2010

Keynote speakers:
Simon Critchley (New School for Social Research)
Eric Santner (University of Chicago)

The Secular enlightenment sought to replace religion as a foundation for political legitimacy and personal meaning. It led to a profound disappointment, one not specific to contemporary life. Even Spinoza, the great rationalist and philosopher of immanence, feared for a society lacking any belief in salvation whatsoever.

Precisely because the transition to secular modernity has failed, contemporary society has invested with renewed critical interest and urgency the age-old question: “What might be the best normative center for any society”? Even those who say with Nietzsche that “God is dead” would likely concede that a divine center, even though absent and yet to be replaced, retains for many a powerful force upon political imagination.

The Absent Center Conference will examine these circumstances in terms of the following questions: Is a normative center necessary for political life? Are multiple centers possible? If so, which can or ought to be affirmed, and who should decide, by what criteria? Alternatively, can political community and political action be centerless, as philosophers such as Alain Badiou and Simon Critchley argue? Can secular reason and its contemporary political form - liberal democracy - harness the passions and channel the grievances of a thoroughly secular political life? Can alternative post-secular forms of political life be imagined? Could they ever be realized without a return to the religious?

Graduate students interested in presenting a paper should e-mail an abstract of no more than 300 words, together with a CV, to: absentcenterconference@gmail.com

Submission Deadline: 1 August 2009

Authors of accepted proposals will be notified in early September 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A few items...

  • Harvard Theological Review recently published its centennial issue. There are a few open access articles that offer some interesting thoughts on the future of the journal and religious studies scholarship; I'd recommend Clooney's article especially.
  • I was recently informed about Theological Librarianship, a new online journal from the American Theological Library Association. Among others, there's an article in the second issue by Nancy Falciani-White, a co-worker here at Buswell.
  • Continuum has an interesting series that they're introducing, Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers. I'm especially intrigued by volume 5, The Modern Papacy. Samuel Gregg, who is head of research at the Acton Institute, authors this volume. The interpretation of John Paul II's and Benedict XVI's conservatisms is characterized by opposing libertarian and communitarian readings, and the view from this particular series will surely lean libertarian. Still, the account should be fascinating. This volume as well as ones on Hume, Locke, Schumpeter, and Hobbes will be out on May 15, with more coming down the road (note especially the volume on the Salamanca School, for those interested in early modern scholasticism).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A few items...

  • Interesting developments on the canonical relationship between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church of America. Along with the Anglican Communion, the complexities of world Orthodoxy are really paving the way for reflection on how to deal with transnational issues of ecclesial communion.
  • And speaking of the Anglican Communion... the ACNA announced yesterday the introduction of provisional canons and constitutions. (h/t Communion in Conflict)
  • I spoke a day too soon on Pitstick's book and subsequent dialogue; the latest issue of IJST came in to the library, and it features an essay by Pitstock as well as a related essay by Gavin D'Costa.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Responses to Alyssa Lyra Pitstick now all in print, I think...

For those of you who were at the Karl Barth Society's book discussion in San Diego '07, you'll remember the lively exchange on Alyssa Lyra Pitstick's Light in Darkness (now on sale at Eerdman's for $11 hardcover?! May want to stop by).

Anyway... what I believe is Griffith's panel response was published in Pro Ecclesia last year, and now it seems that Lauber's and Webster's responses, along with Pitstick's rejoinder, are in the latest issue of the Scottish Journal of Theology.

I believe that gets everything in print. I haven't read the articles and didn't take notes in San Diego, so I don't know how altered these versions are.

Middle Eastern Texts Initiative

I ran across this initiative from Brigham Young University while tracking down some readings for my Medieval Mirrors for Princes course. There are three different sections of it- an Islamic Translations series, an Eastern Christian Texts section, and the Medical Works of Moses Maimonides.

The Eastern Christian Texts will be of most interest for readers, although there are some important philosophical works that shouldn't be ignored amongst the Islamic texts. Only a few volumes have been published as yet, but there is also a planned Library of the Christian East that projects an impressive scope. As far as I can tell, the Eastern Christian Texts are Loeb-style bilingual and the Library will contain introductions to Eastern Christian thinkers with selections of English translations.

I can't track down a BYU press, so I don't think there is one. These books are distributed by the University of Chicago, and perhaps by other institutions as well. I've found the Islamic texts on Amazon, and I assume the Eastern Christian texts are there as well.

UPDATE: After writing this post I figured I had spoken too quickly... on BYU Press, which doesn't seem to be a stand-alone organizational entity anymore but does still exist, see here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A few items...

  • This has been out for a month and a half, but it's worth reading if you haven't read it already. An interview with Bishop Fellay reveals some more details about what was happening behind the scenes leading up to the lifting of the SSPX excommunication in January.
  • Brian Leiter discusses summer programs for brushing up on/learning German.
  • Two pieces related to publishing. I mentioned a little while back that I had some thoughts on the state of academic publishing that I might share at some point, but I also don't want to put my foot in my mouth by commenting on such a sprawling and diverse enterprise. For now, you can read some of what I'm reading. This piece plays off of the dumb "our industry should get a bailout too!" genre that has popped up over the past few months. Ignoring that silliness, there are some interesting thoughts on publishing and books. Also, some news on the legal wranglings of GoogleBooks. Both of these pieces get into the dilemma of print v. digital, which would also be worth talking about at some point.
  • Remember the whole "Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization" fiasco back in February? I do... it did more for my viewer count than anything else since I started clavi non defixi. Yesterday I tracked back visitor traffic from this blog to this blog, which apparently is hosted by a contributor to the encyclopedia. Take a look around at the "objective" contributors to the encyclopedia... a lovely Blogger profile description: "Waging a Counter-Jihad since 9-11-2001" with a long history of anti-Islamic posts to back it up. This is just one more example of why it's pretty reasonable to assume that, contrary to Kurian's complaints, Wiley-Blackwell made the right decision in pulling the project. That's not to say that all contributors were guilty of this nonsense- I'm sure most of them weren't, and it's unfortunate that they're tied into this now (btw, I'd take that line off the CV if I were you, at least until things get straightened out!). But the project seems from all public information to have been pretty worthy of its editorial critique.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Canon Andrew White has a blog...


Apparently Andrew White has just started a blog with The Telegraph. White was a frequent visitor to Wheaton College while I was a student (I assume he still stops by periodically), and a number of Wheaton students have followed him to the Middle East for internships or to work. He's one of those people who you listen to and stop to reflect, "wow, someone who's actually not full of crap." His corner in the Telegraph will be worth following.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Theological re-interpretation in Queer Theology

Over lunch I ran across a quote from Gerard Loughlin's Queer Theology in the January issue of Theology Today. Quoted from Gavin Hyman's article "Postmodern Theology and Modern Liberalism" (468):
The Christian tradition has always imagined same-sex marriage- at least for men. Men have always been able- if not required- to play the bride to Christ's groom, for "all human beings- both women and men- are called through the Church to be the 'Bride' of Christ" (John Paul II). Why then should same-sex marriage be so troubling for the Christian churches, when it is what Christian men have been doing all along? The answer is contained in the latter clause of the question. It has to do with (men) falling for a male deity, and is in this sense a christological problem.

Recent work in queer theology and theology of sexuality is often characterized by this- in my mind very promising- attentiveness to traditional patterns of theological orthodoxy. You'll find a lot of it in Eugene Rogers too, particularly tying in to pneumatology. I think that if there is any hope for presenting a compelling theological defense of homosexuality as a graced relational situating, it will have to be along these sorts of lines. While the "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" argument of traditionalists is often ridiculed, it is really a very good theological case of complimentarity, and it is very much the same case that Loughlin presents above, or others present elsewhere. The point is the fittingness of God's creative goodness and how an attentiveness to such patterns, orders, or leitmotifs help us to better understand sexuality or any other topic of moral import. Explaining what an "ought" is requires an understanding of what "is" is, even if the complexity of moral reflection has moved us past any naive assumptions about the relationship between"is" and "ought". Here Loughlin attempts to explain a sexual ought by way of a christological is, and I think this is a rather productive route to take.

Doing so need not present us with a natural theology; indeed, Eugene Rogers has presented his case precisely as unnatural. What "is" doesn't underwrite the "ought" in the sense of "natural theology" or "orders of creation", then. But even in conceiving homosexual relation as "against nature," a redemptive pattern is being employed... a redemptive "is" is being used to make sense of sexual goodness.

I say that these theological attempts are good, but (unsurprisingly), I don't think that any such attempts have yet presented a compelling case for the goodness of homosexuality as relational identity. Loughlin's case made above seems especially shoddy, and it's a shame because the striving to reinterpret sexuality within the conditions of theological patterns of orthodoxy is so helpful as a methodological impulse.

Loughlin argues that "Men have always been able- if not required- to play the bride to Christ's groom, for "all human beings- both women and men- are called through the Church to be the 'Bride' of Christ" (John Paul II)." The inability to accept same-sex marriage in the church is thus "a christological problem."

The reference to John Paul II and 20th century Catholic nuptial theology is especially ironic (and yet rather pervasive amongst certain theologians... there's almost a sense that an imprimatur of some sort is being sought to anchor progressive reflection). But does John Paul II really talk about men "playing the bride"? Of course not! Loughlin himself has offered the reason why his interpretation is wrong: men and women both "are called through the Church to be the 'Bride'". It is not any particular Christian man or woman who is a bride, but rather the Church. Loughlin's re-interpretation of this christological marriage depends upon a deeply problematic individualism that atomizes salvation and leaves little room for ecclesiology to breathe.

Really, Loughlin is making the same argument commonly offered by traditionalists against women priests. Because the priest represents Christ to the congregation and especially in the administration of the sacraments, only males (it is argued) are able to accomplish the representation. Yet neither of these christological structures- the ecclesial Bride or the priestly "Christ"- depend upon the people who fill the office, but rather upon the identity of the office itself. Priesthood qua priesthood or Church qua Church are male and female structures set in christological relation, but they are the new identities of the Christian life. They inform human relation rather than vice versa. The Church is the bride of Christ as a community, and the priest as representative of Christ is husband of the Church (female) and also father of the individual congregants (both male and female). This is true of the office regardless of the office holder, of the body regardless of the sexual diversity of its members.

Interestingly, Gavin Hyman continues in his article to make much the same point that I've made here, though with quite different intention. The point of his article is to argue that "postmodern theology has something positive to learn from modern liberalism". Of Loughlin, he continues,
But what gives rise to this displacement of one [heteronormative] reading of orthodoxy for another [Loughlin's]? Is it plausible to see it as being generated purely from within? Could it be the case that secular liberalism, which has been in the vanguard of the affirmation of homosexuality, may have had a part to play in calling theological orthodoxy to a new self-understanding?

Setting aside the glaringly unjustified leap Hyman makes in assuming that a "reading" of theological orthodoxy is in fact necessarily theological orthodoxy's "self-understanding" (rather than simply an unorthodox reading of orthodoxy), I'd say yes. He's exactly right about Loughlin and modern liberalism. And while I would agree with him that we have a lot to learn from modern liberalism, I think in this particular example we are hindered rather than helped by its influence. Loughlin's commendable attempt to re-interpret structures of theological reasoning falters rather fatally on an extreme appeal to individualism, otherwise his idea that men "play the bride" to Christ remains nonsensical.*

Many "traditionalists" like myself are eager to listen and dialogue about issues of sexuality... we really are, and we really do seek to faithfully receive a true and good way forward on the question of homosexuality. There are obviously Christians who seek to be genuinely faithful within a homosexual lifestyle, and while I do not agree with this, it is still plain that they are not seeking to do violence to the faith but rather to simply understand it rightly. That said, it is not acceptable for them to do so in a way that offers a violent re-reading of the redemptive structures of the faith. This is what I think is presented by Loughlin, and I have not yet found a defense of the goodness of homosexual relational structures that avoids these problems (though I don't claim to be familiar with all of the pertinent theologies of sexuality).






*That may not be exactly true. I'm not well-read on Christian mysticism, but bridal mysticism may present a case where an individual is interpreted as "bride of Christ", short-circuiting the typical ecclesial matrix within which this relationship is understood. That said, the case of mysticism is exceptional, and so must be interpreted and re-applied with special care. There is often an attempt to use mysticism in theology more broadly, and I think that this can be dangerous precisely because the mystic as ascetic or hermit withdraws him or herself from the community. Presumably a faithful interpretation of mysticism should follow such a withdrawal and recognize its non-communicable nature. Also, mysticism as Christian practice is informed by the same christological structures that have been discussed above, and not vice versa. It is christology that makes sense of the mystical ascent, and not the mystical ascent that stands over christology as an interpretative framework.

In Memoriam: John Paul II

Karol Józef Wojtyła, Pope John Paul II, died four years ago yesterday. The picture on the left is a photograph of Wojtyła's inauguration on 22 October, 1978, less than two months after the beginning of the pontificate of John Paul I. The picture on the right is a well-known photograph from Gabriel Bouys, in my mind one of the most striking images of the late pontiff.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A few items...

  • The second lecture at Princeton on the "Free Will Theorem is up. I found the first lecture interesting, but disappointing in many respects from a theological point of view. Conway was fair in clarifying, however, what he meant in particular by free will and how it mattered for physics and mathematics. The trans-disciplinary applicability of this is reason enough to continue with the lecture series. Maybe I'll comment on it at some point- feel free to do so here in the meantime. I'll keep posting as more lectures in the series go up.
  • Cyril O'Regan is speaking this Friday at the University of Chicago Theology Workshop. His paper will be, "Hegel, Sade, and Gnostic Infinities". The presentation will be in Swift 200, from 4:00-5:30 PM. For those who can't make the event, you can find his paper here.
  • I had the pleasure of sitting in on class of Jennifer Herdt's a year or two ago discussing Nygren and D'Arcy on eros and agape; she's an impressive historian of moral thought and worth checking into if you haven't already. I'm a little late in posting this, but Herdt's latest book came out in November, Putting on Virtue: The Legacy of the Splendid Vices, from UChicago Press.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sutton Courtenay Press

I ran across this press yesterday and thought I'd mention it here. Does anyone know anything further about it? They seem to have published from the 60's at least through the 80's, and maybe since then, but I don't know if they're still around. They have two interesting series: Courtenay Studies in Reformation Theology and Courtenay Library of Reformation Classics. Below is a piecemeal bibliography that I've scraped together. SRT stands for the first series and LRC for the second.


John Calvin
, ed. Gervase E. Duffield (SRT 1, 1966)
[published through Eerdmans? also see here for 1970]

Richard L. Greaves, John Bunyan, (SRT 2, 1969)
[published in Grand Rapids? (perhaps Eerdmans again?)]

Elizabeth Armstrong, Robert Estienne, Royal Printer: An Historical Study of the Elder Stephanus (SRT 6, 1986)

The Work of William Tyndale, Gervase Duffield ed., Courtenay Library of Reformation Classics, (LRC 1, 1964)

Common places of Martin Bucer, ed. David F. Wright (LRC 4, 1972)

The life, early letters & eucharistic writings of Peter Martyr, eds. J.C. McLelland & G.E. Duffield, (LRC 5, 1989)
[the date or numbering may be wrong here, unless this is a reprint or this volume was done out of schedule]

A catechism set forth by Thomas Cranmer : from the Nuremberg Catechism translated into Latin by Justus Jonas, ed. D. G. Selwyn (LRC 6, 1978)

The Works of John Frith, ed. N.T. Wright (LRC 7, 1978)

The work of John Marbeck, ed. R.A. Leaver, (LRC 9, 1978)

Puritans in politics: the religious legislation of the Long Parliament 1640-1647, ed. George Yule (LRC 13, 1978)

The work of Archbishop John Williams, ed. Barrie Williams (LRC 14, 1981)

The work of William Barlowe : including Bishop Barlowe's Dialogue on the Lutheran factions, ed. Andrew M. McLean, (LRC 15, 1981)



Happy hunting! The Calvin volume (SRT 1) appears to be by far the most cited from the press, so that may be easier to find. The John Bunyan volume (SRT 2) also seems to pop up a good bit.