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The Sublation of the Judas Kiss

February 1, 2013

15

The Karamazovs embodied the Russian geist, but the Karamazovs were a repulsive sort, enslaved to their passions and drowning in nihilistic debauchery. Alyosha alone stood against this, but also within it. He embodied the passion of the true Russian geist by having a passion for righteousness and for healing the suffering of others. Ivan maligns Alyosha’s God and Alyosha responds with a kiss.

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Tertium Quid

January 30, 2013

14

A paradox: Predestination and the Freedom of the Will. Must we choose between Twainish
determinism and the human autonomy of Open Theism? Or is there a tertium quid? May we refuse the distinction between freedom and necessity altogether and, instead, approach our lives with a live-in-the-paradox mentality that understands the two to be the same thing? Where man’s freedom is a necessary outworking of God’s providence?

C. S. Lewis thinks so:

The thing was going to be done. There was going to arrive, in the course of time, a moment at which he would have done it. The future act stood there, fixed and unaltered as if he had already performed it. It was a mere irrelevant detail that it happened to occupy the position we call future instead of that which we call past . . . Predestination and freedom were apparently identical. He could no longer see any meaning in the many arguments he had heard on this subject.

Who is My Neighbor?

January 28, 2013

13

“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). τὸν πλησίον σου. Not the nebulous term of “neighbor.” Your near one. That person in close physical proximity to you. For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love the Haitians whom he has not seen? (John 4:20)

To Hell with Haiti. Do you know the needs of your near one?

This is Love

January 26, 2013

12

The psalmist envies the wicked and how their ways seem to prosper. They grow fat and rich and blasphemous, and show no signs of reform (Ps. 73). Alyosha sees the entire monastery rush to support the wicked and hypocritical Father Ferapont, meanwhile, his beloved and holy Father Zosima is maligned and his death deemed worthless. But, like the Good Shepherd, Alyosha gives up his time, his efforts, his desires, his passions for his sheep. He helps a boy and loses a finger.

Truth Has a Name

January 24, 2013

11

Truth is not Nietzsche’s “movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms” made fixity by long use. Truths are not mere “illusions which we have forgotten are illusions” or dead metaphors, “coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.” Else life itself is Macbeth’s “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Then Kant would be right and history would be nothing more than the “idiotic course of things human.”

But Adam named the fruit. Then he ate one that he shouldn’t have eaten. And then he died. But the Last Adam raised him to new life.

Estel

January 22, 2013

10

Tolkien called it estel. It is not hope as an expectation of good, having some foundation in what is known, but a hope that is much deeper. Hope as trust—faith—that all things will end in joy for God’s people. As Derrida would have it, language changes over time. Books mean different things and theologians argue constantly about the finer points of theology according the historical-grammatical and all manner of other methods. And yet, meaning will not be endlessly deferred. Christ will bring the final revision at the end of history. It is in this hope, this estel, that we look to the new beginning.

Christianity is and must be a paradox. The Three in One. The already and the not yet. The dead who are made alive. Dominion comes out of death. It is laying down our lives that God may raise us from the dust and ashes to a new and glorious life. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24).

Eucatastrophe

January 21, 2013

9

The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation.

~ J. R. R. Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories