29 April 2004

quick, grab the nearest book!

(via carrifex from okcalvin)

I quote:

On the contrary, for Aquinas, one can pronounce no judgement of truth without assessing a degree of appropriate participaton in the transcendental attributes proper to divinity (though this is not to say that such an assessment need always be carried out with full reflexive consciousness of the proportio between creature and creator). (Milbank and Pickstock, Truth in Aquinas)

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

philosophical theology

In the comments below, Rob asks for recommendations for some good philosophical theology or just plain philosophy. It would be helpful to know a bit more about a person's background before making recommendations: whether their training is more analytic or continental, how much grounding they have in history of philosophy, and what their primary interests are.

Still, I think I can make some general recommendations.

First, read the premodern classics: Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Plotinus, Pseudo-Dionysius, Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Aquinas, and so on. Try to forget what you think you know about these various figures and read them afresh, considering alternative readings or perspectives. Perhaps Augustine is a kind of antique deconstructionist. Maybe Aquinas is really a Christian neo-platonist after all (and neo-platonism isn't what you thought it was anyway).

Second, read the modern mavericks. I'm assuming some familiarity with the canonical figures: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Hegel, etc. So, if you haven't already, read the other moderns instead: Vico, Reid, Herder, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Blondel, and the like.

Third, some specific suggestions that come to mind, though tomorrow I might suggest something completely different (in alphabetical order by author):

- Bruce Ellis Benson, Graven Ideologies (IVP 2002).

- Michel de Certeau, The Mystic Fable (U of Chicago 1995).

- Stanley Hauerwas and Charles Pinches, Christians Among the Virtues (U of Notre Dame 1997).

- Jean-Luc Marion, God without Being (U of Chicago 1995).

- John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, Truth in Aquinas (Routledge 2001)

- John Milbank, Being Reconciled (Routledge 2003).

- Merold Westphal, Overcoming Onto-Theology (Fordham 2001).


28 April 2004

finals week

My students' final essays are due today by 3pm.

I've been sitting here in my office since about 10am collecting them as they trickle in and trying to get through grading the last few quizzes and homeworks, as well as finishing up the set-up for the my grade spreadsheets.

I've got the Pixies playing in the background making me nostalgic for my own college years.

There's something bittersweet about the end of term. I'll not see most of these students again. In most cases that doesn't bother me and the student remains something of an abstraction: a name on a page, a line on a spreadsheet, a collection of illegible scribbles about euthanasia or eight pages on the highest good, most of it bullshit.

But there are the few students you always get to know a bit better, in whose work you see a glimpse of something beyond the usual mediocrity. A couple of them like to instant message and talk about some issue that's caught itself in the branches of their scattered attention spans.

A student rustles through the door. Another paper comes in. A smile, "Have a nice summer," a moment's hesitation, perhaps a question about grades, and then he or she sweeps back out again into finals weeks, an exam later today, some packing, and back home to a waiting summer job. Their faces already begin to blur.

Hmm. This paper is one of the better ones, though his inkjet seems to have run out of black ink partway through...

21 April 2004


Has any one here tried the "gmail" that Google is offering? It seems to have some very nice features. I'm thinking about signing up in order to try it out, but am curious about feeback from others who have already tried it.

grading done!

At least until final essays come in next Wednesday. I ended up getting snowed under too much grading at once this semester.

Part of it was the result of using Writing Fellows in some of my sections. They're actually very helpful, looking over students' rough drafts and helping them revise. But the use of them also ends up pushing dues dates further into the term than I had originally projected. Thus, as a result, I ended up having to grade 450 papers within a little more than six week period, along with hundreds of homeworks and quizzes.

In any case, that's behind me now and I can happily return to other obligations and projects, including the occasional blog entry.

14 April 2004

two talks

Last week there were two presentations at La Salle that were of some interest. The first, on Tuesday, was a panel discussion of Mel Gibson's Passion film, one professor each from the communication, philosophy, religion, and English departments. The second, on Wednesday, was a talk entitled "Maurice Blondel: Philosophy as the Intellect at Prayer" given by our former department chairman, Michael Kerlin.

I'm just posting this as a reminder to say something more about each in the next several days. Now I will return to my regularly scheduled grading.

12 April 2004

look, ma, no tables!

More about the blog changes below, but first some uninteresting summing up of the past couple of weeks, which have been tremendously full.

The middle of term is always busy, with the greatest load of grading. In the past month I've had to grade nearly 300 papers, along with many, many homeworks and quizzes. I'm almost out from underneath that load now and the end of term is in sight.

On Palm Sunday I spoke at my parents' church--the church I grew up in--as part of an ongoing Adult Education series they've had on Sunday mornings, addressing various topics in Christian ethics. I had been asked to talk about Christian approaches to peace, war, and violence. It seemed to go fairly well and the class asked very good, thoughtful questions, seeing the difficulties with application of just war criteria and the complexities of the context of the church as an alternative polis.

Good Friday found us at St. Timothy's, our local Episcopal parish. We had looked into some evening services, but they generally were too late, given Claire's bedtime. The congregation was rather sparse, but their small male choir did a really good job. Claire and I wandered around the back a bit during the liturgy, looking at the stained glass and stations of the cross. The priest offered her communion, but we asked that he bless her instead. While I have no objections to young child communion, it isn't practiced in our own parish and, when Claire does begin to receive communion, we would like it to become a consistent part of her piety, rather than an occasional treat at the odd parish.

Holy Saturday was a beautiful day and we all went for a nice long outing in the morning, wandering around a nearby shopping district, looking in the windows. There's a store that sells far eastern art and Claire enjoyed looking at all of the carved animals. The shopkeeper also gave her a carved miniature wooden tulip, which seem to make her day.

Despite the sunny Saturday, Pascha turned out to be gloomy, with rain showers much of the day. Laurel was singing in choir for both morning services and the music was really quite glorious. I always like Pascha Sunday--all lilies and banners and music and children in new clothes. During the second service I brought Claire in to listen to the musical pieces and hymns, all of which she seemed to find delightful.

The rest of the day was spent at my parents' who hosted lunch and had invited a young couple who are attending their church while the husband completes seminary. My folks almost always have extra guests at holiday dinners when they know of people who are away from their families or single and alone.

I've been planning to redesign my blog for a while and had taken some pictures a bit ago and written up some CSS, but had never pulled it all together. After all the school work and other busy-ness of the past couple of weeks, I decided some web design could be a nice diversion and a well-deserved break from other activities. With a bit of help from Paulo (regarding how to work around some of the odd kinks of IE), I think I've successfully abandoned tables and transformed the blog into CSS. Let me know about any problems (though if you're still using Netscape 4, consider a new browser first).

In any case, I've got to get back to grading and some other projects that have been pushed to the back burner while more immediately pressing matters were dealt with.


It looks like somebody is blogging again.

11 April 2004

collect for pascha

O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

04 April 2004

collect for passion sunday

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

02 April 2004


If you had to pick a short story for all incoming freshmen to read at a medium-sized Roman Catholic college with an emphasis on the liberal arts, what would you have them read?

The short story would be discussed during opening weekend and perhaps picked up again later in various courses and First Year orientation classes.

Leave suggestions in the comments box below.

01 April 2004

toddler fun

As Laurel reports, Claire's continuing to be a typical toddler.

To add to her comments, we're also making some use of Calvin's Instruction in Doctrine for Young Children.