Monday, August 31, 2009

From Jerusalem with love...

Wordle: Calvi Non Defixi

My good friend Shawn Goodwin, now studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, sent me this lovely clavi non defixi word cloud for my birthday last Friday.

*Image from

Friday, August 28, 2009

Oxford UP and outrageous book prices

Periodical subscriptions are of course not the only research tools that are being priced in an unsustainable way. Josh Mann shares his unfortunate experiences with a Greek grammar from Oxford. The price jumped from $85 to over $300 without OUP informing the distributor (in this case Eisenbrauns). While they raise their already-high prices, Oxford has also started to print a number of titles on demand, and the quality of the materials has gone down (I've seen this pretty often lately with acquisitions here at the library).

It's a little more difficult to lay out a list of prices for books, but I think it's pretty well known which ones cost the most. Often, these are the most prestigious presses as well- which may account for a bit of the price hike (presumably more rigorous review has contributed to their prestige, and everyone knows that a Brill hardback is a beautiful thing to behold)- but at a certain point the situation just gets out of hand and unjustifiable.

(thanks to Jim West for pointing this out)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More on budget cuts and institutional pricing of journals

So we're making significant cuts in our periodicals because of budget constraints. The story is the same everywhere, of course.

In light of these unhappy times, I'd like to reiterate a point that I've brought up before. Scholars should spend some time thinking about where they publish, and how their academic work feeds into unsustainable structures. If Belle-of-the-Ball Journal in Currently-Hip Theology has a subscription fee closer to $1000 than $100, we're not doing ourselves any favors by publishing in it and tying the fiscal hands of the institutions upon which we depend for scholarly discourse.

To help in considering these issues, I've compiled a list of five journals with institutional subscriptions under $100 and five under $200. Most of them are quite obviously theology titles, others are from related fields that I think are important to theological work, and should come as no surprise given the topics that I focus on at clavi non defixi (I've tried not to go very far afield, however). Unless otherwise noted, I believe these are annual U.S. institutional prices for print subscription. Because many of the cheaper journals run online access through databases like ATLA or POIESIS, I just went with the price for yearly print. For those journals that do online access themselves, I've included the price they quote for it.

1. Theological Studies ($40)
2. The Review of Metaphysics ($60)
3. The Thomist ($65)*
4. Augustinian Studies ($50)
5. St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly ($50)

6. Harvard Theological Review ($108)**
7. Scottish Journal of Theology ($180)**
8. Journal of the American Academy of Religion ($183, $193 includes online access)
9. The Journal of Religion ($159, $179 includes online access)
10. Journal of the History of Philosophy ($110)

*this price includes online access. No institutional print-only option seems to be available.
**I believe this price includes online access. The Cambridge catalogue won't download, but I'll update with the inevitably cheaper print price if/when I can pull it up.

It's also worth noting the price of two journals that have been quite important to English-language work in systematic theology over the past two decades. Both are published by Wiley-Blackwell.

Another journal that garners a significant amount of attention amongst theological bloggers is worth noting. I don't bring it up as much on clavi non defixi because it's a bit further from my research interests, but others may find this helpful. The price could be much worse, but I also imagine that it could be better.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Philosophy of Religion is the History of Philosophy of Religion

...or something like that.

Those of you who, like me, can get frustrated with the ahistorical tendencies of much philosophy of religion will be pleased to see the latest issue of Religious Studies. Articles discuss Leibniz, Kierkegaard, Jacobi, Hume, and Gödel, with two articles discussing aspects of the problem of evil.

Monday, August 24, 2009

On small publishing outfits

This morning I was chatting with a co-worker about dissertations, theses, and their published (or not) lives after faculty signatures and institutional archiving. Among other things, I learned of a small press that was run by David Steinmetz for a number of years. Labyrinth Press of Durham, NC published a number of doctoral dissertations, including those of Susan Schreiner and Richard Muller. Labyrinth's portfolio also included a respectable collection of translations, including a reprint of François Wendel's Calvin and the first English translation of Adolf von Harnack's study of Marcion. You can also find a printing of Obermann's Harvest of Medieval Theology in their list. Labyrinth was eventually bought up by Baker, where you can currently find a number of the above titles. (A google search pulls up two other Labyrinth Presses, and I think one of them must be responsible for the out-of-place title in the above link to the ISBN database)

The Pickwick Press of Pittsburgh (now an imprint of Wipf & Stock) has a similar story, with a number of well-respected monograph series carrying a veritable gold-mine of reprints, translations, and dissertations. None of these will make the New York Times Bestseller List, but I needn't even bother saying that these are the books- and the publishers- that often matter the most. Eisenbrauns is another similar publisher worth adding, although they've grown quite a bit since 1975, and show no sign of moving on or operating under a larger publishing house. (I'm thinking of you as I type this, Shawn.)

When I run across them, I've tried to highlight smaller publishers in case a knowledge of them would help bibliographers and researchers in theology or related disciplines. These have included Sutton Courtenay Press, Aristide D. Caratzas, and just the other week, Paul Dry Books. Some places, like Sutton Courtenay, Pickwick, or Labyrinth, may be well-enough known to previous generations of scholars, though they require rediscovery by younger cohorts like my own. Another field of publication that I've found worth exploring are small publishing companies dedicated primarily to periodical literature (I'm thinking of Imprint Academic as one example), or even scholarly societies that publish their own journals or proceedings.

There's something refreshing and encouraging about the vitality of a smaller publishing venture. It presents a stark contrast from the publish-or-perish mentality of academia, usually accompanied by a hesitation to entrust one's scholarly work (so often reduced to so much capital) with any publisher whose name doesn't end in "University Press". The people who take the time to edit and prepare these volumes are often themselves participants in the research and teaching community, and know best what titles would contribute to its health and growth.

Friday, August 21, 2009

a few items...

  • Ignatius Press moves its headquarters to a new location, the historic Engine 22 firehouse in San Francisco. (picture below)
  • Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo are challenging a recent legal settlement over Google Books digitization rights through the Open Book Alliance. While I don't understand all of what's going on, the diversification of new technologies for access seems like a good thing. On a more humorous note (and yet still serious, considering common concerns about the weight that Google throws around), the Onion reports on an opt-out program being offered by Google.
  • Also of note concerning digitization and access, UC Press has reached an agreement with JSTOR for the publication of its journals through the database. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't see what's especially revolutionary about this move. It strikes me as straightforward incremental expansion, though some seem to view it as a big deal. The lone commenter at the Inside Higher Ed article asks for more discussion, specifically on how this will impact ProjectMuse. I'd love to hear from those who are more involved with access issues and what you think about all this.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Translations by Boris Jakim

I'm cataloging a new translation of Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground made by Boris Jakim and published by Eerdmans. The book also includes an introduction by Robert Bird, who is an associated faculty with the Divinity School. Jakim has translated a ton of Russian work that is of interest to theologians, including numerous books by Bulgakov, Berdyaev, Solovyov, and others.

While I'm not as familiar with these works, I will point out (and others with more information can enlighten us further) that a number of
Berdyaev books are newly listed on Amazon with Jakim apparently involved in the projects. These seem to be paperbacks, and perhaps they have been out for some time in other editions. I cannot pull up much of any information on Semantron Press, the publisher. Jakim does not appear to be the translator for any of these volumes, but he has contributed the forward to each of them. The series seems affordable and rather extensive.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A few items...

  • The latest issue of the Journal of Law and Religion is out. Two articles should be of especial interest- "Theological and Political Liberalisms," by Paul Rasor (433-62), and "Law, Religion, and Culture: The Function of System in Niklas Luhmann and Kathryn Tanner", by Jonathan Rothchild (475-506).
  • The program for the 34th annual Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance conference at Villanova University is available. On Saturday I will be presenting my paper, "Melchizedek as an Exemplar for Kingship in Twelfth-Century Political Thought." I've never been to the PMR conference before, but they always look to be spectacular affairs, and I'm excited to attend. Let me know if you'll be there.
  • Jim Linville offers a criticism of SBL and AAR worth reading. I disagree with his point, but I think he raises the important question of the academic relevance of theological work in a helpful manner, and he gives a number of examples of what is bothering him. He's been gracious enough to interact with my insurrection in the comment box, and I commend the discussion to you.
  • The third annual Karl Barth Blog Conference is here, for those of you who are living under a rock and have not followed the link of some other theology blog already.

ELCA Assembly begins

The ELCA Churchwide Assembly began yesterday in Minneapolis. Unfortunately I'm not up on Lutheran issues, but all of the headlines sound like news on the Episcopal Church, with one news source even boiling it down to: "Lutherans Begin Gay Clergy Discussions."

While threats of splitting over sexuality seem to be present here as elsewhere in the U.S. mainline churches, I'm sure there's more going on at the Assembly than simply this, which is why I've refrained from linking an article from the sex-obsessed news media and left readers to explore the Assembly website itself. In particular, it might be worth looking at the discussion about full communion with the UMC.

Friday, August 14, 2009

From the cataloger's desk: Marquette lectures

Marquette University hosts two annual lecture series that have attracted important names in philosophy and theology over the years. This years lectures continue to impress, and the published versions of both are sitting on my desk for cataloging:

The 2009 Aquinas Lecture was given by Daniel Garber, chair and professor of philosophy at Princeton University. His lecture was: What Happens After Pascal's Wager: Living Faith and Rational Belief

The 2009 Père Marquette Lecture in Theology was given by Cyril O'Regan, Huisking Professor of Theology at Notre Dame. His lecture was: Theology and the Spaces of Apocalyptic.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Williams on the development of Christian doctrine

This piece in the Telegraph is mostly feature-story-fluff, but there were a few interesting comments from Rowan Williams. From the article:

Asked why the Church of England is still struggling to admit women bishops long after Britain had its first female Prime Minister, he said: “The Church has got to solve this on its own terms and yes that does take longer and it can be embarrassing sometimes.

"You look at society and you realise people don’t fully understand why the church is taking so long, and what the terms are in which the church is trying to sort it out.”

I think this reveals a quite interesting aspect of Williams' thought on the Church, and one that has come increasingly to the fore during the current Anglican crisis. There's certainly an underlying commitment to progressivism in Williams. Without falling prey to labeling him with the easy (though inaccurate) terms like "liberal", "progressive", "revisionist", etc., it is clear that his trajectory is towards something that on some level correlates with progressive intentions in the wider culture (of progressive England, at least. "People" and "society" are asking quite different questions of the Church elsewhere in the world, or even elsewhere in England than the places with which Williams seems to be interested. This is one weakness of his point- that he refers to society as some monolithic thing with some unified thought process that has already made up its mind).

But what also comes out in a strong way here is Williams' postliberal bent, for lack of a better term. Maybe it's just because I have DeHart's book fresh on my mind, but Williams' point about allowing the Church to work out these issues on its own terms fits well into the framework of a doctrinal grammar that must be allowed to play out in accordance with its own rules. This also reinforces the point (made well by DeHart) that postliberalism need not be a trojan horse for a latent repristinating confessionalism.

Williams has taken the same tone on homosexuality as things have gradually fallen apart, and even as he is increasingly open about the fact that things are falling apart, the archbishop remains insistent that they do so in accordance with the way that the Church lives its life.

I'm clearly in disagreement with Williams on certain issues of sexuality and ecclesial recognition the Anglican Communion, so I'd also like to insist that those of us who are not entrusted with his particular calling might very well also be working in accordance with the ecclesial faithfulness he insists upon, even as we form splinter communions and break ties with the Episcopal Church. Williams insists, after all, that the Church will inevitably do something, and something certainly is being done.

A side note: Look at the last two paragraphs of the article. I had no idea that a number of Anglican churches in the developing world disallowed contraceptive measures. News to me, maybe not to others. I suppose it's not exactly a shocking revelation, as Williams is not the only one who has one eye on societal mores as he speaks of doctrinal development.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Balthasar the Birthday Boy

I was just looking up some bibliographic information* about Hans Urs Von Balthasar and realized that today, August 12th, is his birthday. He would have been 104.

To celebrate one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth-century, said by some to be the most cultured man in Europe during his lifetime, you may want to go to Ignatius Press and buy some of his books. Balthasar's three volume Theo-Logic has been on sale for a while now, with each volume being offered at the incredibly low price of $9.

*I was interested in his doctoral dissertation, Apokalypse der deutschen Seele. Does anyone know if it's been translated into English?

Two items...

Lately I find myself more with links to pass on than with any extensive thoughts to share. The funny thing is that if anything I've had more issues going through my head rather than less... about academia, publishing, and especially about the interface of theology, culture, and other disciplines. The problem seems to be in my ability to sit down and articulate it right now. Here are two links, however, that will be of interest.

Many have already likely heard of this, but Ben Myers has posted on the death of Geoffrey Bromiley, yet another great loss to the theological community added to the saints who have gone home during the past year.

Inside Higher Ed has a good article for young scholars with advice on publishing articles in the jungle that is our current cutthroat academic situation. This piece is worth reading twice and then forwarding to anyone who might find it helpful. I haven't checked out the links at the bottom, but I imagine those are helpful too.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Paul Dry Books

I'm currently cataloging Peter Kalkavage's The Logic of Desire: An Introduction to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, published by Paul Dry Books.

Paul Dry Books is based in Philadelphia and seems to focus on philosophy, history, classics, translated works, books about books & reading, and literature. The Hegel book that I'm cataloging has some very nice recommendations on the back, is well laid-out, and has a very good quality print job. Other books that caught my eyes included one on Wittgenstein, one on book shopping, and one on the concept of infinity.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

A few items...

  • The panel discussion at Immanent Frame on Homosexuality and the Anglican Debate has a few responses at this point, all worth reading. There seems to be a general sense of a lack of helpfulness in the panelist comments, with which I'm inclined to agree (although in fairness, one can't solve all the world's problems in a few paragraphs). One point made by a few different posters is that academics theorizing themselves into a tizzy does not help the Church "struggle and sweat for unity in love." No response yet from the panelists, we'll see if they weigh in.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Ecclesiastical Law Journal 11.2

The latest issue of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal is out. Below are the abstracts of articles and short comments.


‘Transformative Accommodation’ and Religious Law
Bernard Jackson
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
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
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
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.


The Legal Effect of Consecration of Land ‘Not Belonging to the Church of England’
Alexander McGregor
In January 2009, this Journal published an article by Kenyon Homfray, ‘Sir Edward Coke gets it wrong? A brief history of consecration’, which was concerned with the historical origins of a legal concept of consecration. While it is not especially germane to the direction of Mr Homfray's argument, his statement that ‘[i]n England, consecration does not appear to have any recognised legal effect on any land or building not belonging to the Church of England’ was somewhat surprising. It may be that he intended the expression ‘belonging to the Church of England’ as meaning no more than ‘affiliated to’ the Church of England or something similar. If that is all that was meant, then the statement could be accepted as more or less correct: consecration for worship according to the rites of, for example, the Roman Catholic Church would not have any effect in English law. But the words ‘belonging to’ would naturally tend to imply ownership of the land or building in question by the Church of England, in which case some qualification is needed. It may, therefore, be helpful to set out, briefly, the extent to which consecration is recognised, and has effect, in English law.

Indirect Discrimination and Individual Belief: Eweida v British Airways plc
Lucy Vickers
The decision in Eweida v British Airways that there was no discrimination where a Christian member of check-in staff was not allowed to wear her cross visibly at work has received much publicity, despite the fact that BA changed its policy before the case even reached the tribunal. The case raises many questions about the equal treatment of religions and the question of whether religious practices must be mandatory before they are protected, issues which have been discussed elsewhere in this Journal. The focus of this article, however, is the implications of the decision for the application of indirect discrimination to those who hold minority religious views.

Religion and Public Benefit
Frank Cranmer
The Charity Commission's final guidance on The Advancement of Religion for the Public Benefit met with cautious approval, not least because it is considerably more user-friendly than the rather tortuous exposure draft that preceded it. Several aspects of that draft were arguable: the final version resolves many of the uncertainties.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why Web 2.0 will not solve everything- Reason #78

One of these days I will get into some of my thoughts on digitization projects, open access, and web 2.0 as it relates to academic work. I've been meaning to discuss these things at length since I began posting on journal pricing and publishing practices (see here, here, etc.). While I think there is some great value to a lot of what is being done online, I'm also skeptical and hesitant for what I think are some good reasons.

And here's one of them.

As many of you are likely aware, the Corpus Reformatorum series has been (in part) digitized by GoogleBooks, with fulltext available. So why did I go there today and find them gone? Does anybody know what happened?

More useless links. More primary sources no longer available through open digital access. Thanks for nothin', web 2.0.

Homosexuality and the Anglican debate

The Immanent Frame takes a break from its tiring, Obamaniacal "These Things Are Old" discussion forum with an interesting panel on Rowan Williams' recent response to GC 2009. Below is my response, which I assume will make it to the other end of moderation shortly (a typo or two have been corrected in this reposting). I've provided links back to their panel contributions for my first mention of each panel author, and here is a link to "The Body's Grace" for those who are not familiar with it:

August 4th, 2009 at 11:39 am

If the divide in Anglicanism is over homosexuality (and I’m not as convinced as “The Editors” are that this explains the divide in any very sufficient sense), it seems that an interesting divide in this panel is based on deliberative structures in communion. Case and Rubenstein seem to be opposed to the voice of the Communion as a whole being so significant an element, while Garrigan emphasizes the role of prophets in the people of God (it could also be asked whether this prophetic demographic she cites represents 815, or “the people”, or a political interest, or…). Klausen, perhaps, offers the most realistic perspective in questioning the straightforwardness of these structural alternatives.

By way of rounding up the other two panelists in a brief response, I think that Townes does a good job of identifying why certain superficial issues become divisive for the communion. Yet Fassin seems to me to say just the opposite- that these issues of sexuality are divisive precisely because the dualisms Townes sees have been collapsed into the natural. Are both of these perspectives correct on their own terms, or do they contradict at some level? Does Fassin’s critique apply merely to “conservative” theologies of sexuality, or to Williams’ own thought on the body’s grace?

Speaking of which… where does Rubenstein’s mention of this essay bring us? Does Williams seek to de-naturalize sexuality in speaking of it apart from literal, technical sexual function and in terms of desire? Does this make the body a more immanent thing and fall prey to Fassin’s critique of a desperate rush to human ecology by the Church? Or is it, in its focus on a desire that transcends the body’s reproductive work, a more dualist thing and guilty of Townes’ critique?

These questions don’t seem to be addressed, as everyone seems to have their cross-hairs trained on those whom they presume (wrongly, I think) to be looking at sexuality as a yes/no, make/break issue for the communion. Many important critiques are made of these binaries, but I think that just as many new binaries are introduced, and in a panel format like this, the new binaries have come out in pretty sharp relief.

Feel free to comment here with any thoughts while checking back to the Immanent Frame for further conversation; the moderation function in place over there might make interaction a bit more clunky than it would be here.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Participatio & Political Theology

While checking out the new format of Faith & Theology, I noticed two pieces of journal-related news worth mentioning.

First, the TF Torrance Theological Fellowship has started a journal. Participatio: The Journal of the Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship released its first issue in January of this year.

Second, there are extensive changes going on in Political Theology as the journal reaches its 10th anniversary. They will now publish 6 issues a year, and the issues will be expanded a bit from current length. See the explanation from the editors here.