Friday, November 11, 2016

"Esther is a biblical text that purposely sets all talk of God aside so that we may think clearly about the proper place of political initiative and action in relation to God's larger purposes".

"the more fully Esther inhabits her capacity as an independent political agent capable of influencing human affairs, the more fully God's will is brought to bear in history."

     "A common misreading of Hebrew Scriptures assumes that God's power and human initiative are at odds with each other."

     Yoram Hazony, "The miracle of Esther," First things no. 261 (March 2016):  26 (23-28).

"Every language is an old growth forest of the mind, a watershed of thought, an entire ecosystem of spiritual possibilities."

     Wade Davis, in Alex Chadwick, "An interview with anthropologist Wade Davis," On the edge of Timbuktu, Radio Expeditions, National Public Radio and the National Geographic Society, May 2003.  Mr. Davis has used this in other settings as well, so this may not be the first.

Budziszewski on Social justice

     "It is a trifle for the upper strata to promote sexual liberation; those who have money can shield themselves (to a degree, and for a while) from at least some of the consequences of loose sexuality.  The working classes do not have that luxury.  In a country like this one, serial cohabitation and childbearing outside of marriage contribute more to poverty, dependency, and inequality than a million greedy capitalists do.
     "Do you really want to raise up the poor?  Then do as the English Methodists did in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries:  First live the Commandments.  Then go among the people and preach them.  Start with the ones about marriage and family.
     I do not say this is all you should do, but if you won't even do so much as this, then the rest of your social justice talk is hypocritical.  You may as well admit that it is all about you."

     J. Budziszewski, "Social justice," The Underground Thomist, 12 April 2016.

Schulman on Marilynne Robinson

     "Why is it that the most graceful writer of our day, who offers such a beautiful defense of charity and intellectual humility in her novels, is so often flippant and uncharitable in her essays?  If Marilynne Robinson so habitually 'violates her own poetics,' as Paul Seaton has put it, is she misunderstanding her vision, or are we?"

     Ari Schulman, "Conversing with Ether," a review of The givenness of things:  essays, by Marilynne Robinson, First things no. 264 (June/July 2016):  57 (57-59).
     My long-standing thought exactly.

The more of God, the more of me

"the language of the instrumentum signifies no limitation of human flourishing or freedom (liberum arbitrium), but rather the action of God in Christ fulfills and realizes the integrity of 'an instrument animated by a rational soul,' such that being the instrumentum Divinitatis ensures that in this human being, human nature and freedom flourish to the fullest extent.  In other words, the divine action of the Logos in the humanity of Christ is noncompetitive with the action of his human nature; it is acted upon so as to act (ita agit quod etiam agitur)that is, to be reduced to act and so flourish at the highest pitch of integral human activity.  This means that the more God acts in the human nature of Christ, the more this humanity in turn realizes an action that is integrally human."

     Aaron Riches, "Theandric humanism:  Constantinople III in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas," Pro ecclesia 23, no. 2 (Spring 2014):  203-204 (195-218).  Old hat, of course.  But it's always nice to see this acknowledged.  And this one occurs in the context of a discussion of Gethsemane and the cross, such that "the most fundamental aspect of willing in Christ involves drawing into divine unio every natural inclination of the fallen state through the liberum arbitrium of human ascent now perfectly united with the 'I' of the divine Son" (203, underscoring mine) "'in Christ's peculiar state as both comprehensor and wayfarer'" (Corey L. Barnes, as quoted on p. 210).  Cf. this entry.

"'to die well' is to locate what is good somewhere outside of our control"

     Ephraim Radner, "Whistling past the grave," First things no. 267 (November 2016):  43 (39-44).

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Lord willing

"The epistemological sloppiness that, in Western culture, characterizes references to experience before the Scientific Revolution is not a necessary characteristic of pre-scientific societies.  The Matses, an Amazonian tribe, are obliged to specify, whenever they use a verb, 'exactly how they come to know about the facts they are reporting . . . There are separate verbal forms depending on whether you are reporting direct experience (you saw someone passing by with your own eyes), something inferred from evidence (you saw footprints on the sand), conjecture (people always pass by at that time of day) or hearsay (your neighbor told you he had seen someone passing by).  If a statement is reported with the incorrect evidentiality form, it is considered a lie.  So if, for instance, you ask a Matses man how many wives he has, unless he can actually see his wives at that very moment, he would answer in the past tense and would say something like . . . "There were two the last time I checked."'"

     David Wootton, The invention of science:  a new history of the scientific revolution (New York:  HarperCollins Publishing, 2015), 281nxi, quoting Guy Deutscher, Through the language glass:  why the world looks different in other languages (New York:  Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Co., 2010), 153.
     Of course, this would itself be an eminent example of a claim crying out for accompaniment by just such an epistemological "note".

"Honest mistakes must be clearly distinguished from a failure to take pains."

". . . when vain Writers, to get themselves a name, have presum'd to obtrude upon the credulous World such things, under the Notion of Experimental Truths, or even great Mysteries, as neither themselves ever took the pains to make tryal of, nor receiv'd from any credible Persons that profess'd themselves to have try'd them; in such cases, I see not how we are oblig'd to treat Writers that took no pains to keep themselves from mistaking or deceiving, nay, that car'd not how they abuse us to win themselves a name, with the same respect that we owe to those, who though they have miss'd of the Truth, believ'd they had found it, and both intended to deliver It, and took some (though not prosperous) pains that they might convey nothing else to us."

     Robert Boyle, Certain physiological essays and other tracts written at distant times, and on several occasions . . . (1669), 29, as reproduced by the EEBO Text Creation Partnership, underscoring mine.  I was put onto this by David Wootton, The invention of science:  a new history of the scientific revolution (New York:  HarperCollins Publishing, 2015), 280, to whom I owe the headline.