Spent a lot of the weekend thinking and reading about beauty and faithfulness. Today’s Daybook reflects such things.
- As I’ve stated before, a man who increasingly positions himself as an intellectual hero of mine is John Randolph of Roanoke. Dr. Miles Smith, IV on Randolph’s conversion to orthodox Christianity.
- Christianity is a faith that unblinkingly faces darkness and depravity with courage and grace. Leah Libresco explores the effect on the faith when contemporary Christian music, so popular in many evangelical church services, never pays any attention to the darkness.
- Allen C. Guelzo reviews a new biography of Ralph Vaughn Williams. I’ve always been attracted to Vaughn Williams’s music, but this review makes me even more attracted to him as a man; like me, it seems, Vaughn Williams was also a deeply earnest, deeply curmudgeonly fellow. I’m curious if it’s useful to think of Vaughn Williams as a sort of English Robert Frost; something to think about a bit later, methinks.
- Benjamin Lockard on the connections between metaphysics (truth), ethics (goodness), and aesthetics (beauty) in his primer on the objectivity of the beautiful, which should not be confused with the subjectivity of taste.
Today, the Church commemorates the life, work, and faithful witness of St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of Western monasticism. St. Benedict is all the rage in certain corners of the internet these days, because of the so called “Benedict Option” proposed by the writer Rod Dreher. Like most things, I have incredibly complex feelings about the “BenOp,” some very positive, some incredibly negative, that won’t do for discussion here. But leaving those questions and issues aside, St. Benedict is a fascinating figure, and his work to preserve the good, the true, and the beautiful in the face of often violent social chaos, political uncertainty, and decadence is something that all Christians should seek to emulate in some way or another, methinks, and he Benedictine Rule is something I am curious to see if there are ways in may be applied to the life of non-monastics.
Almighty and everlasting God, whose precepts are the wisdom of A loving Father: Give us grace, following the teaching and example of thy servant Benedict, to walk with loving and willing hearts in the school of the Lord’s service; let thine ears be open unto our prayers; and prosper with thy blessing the work of our hands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
For the last several months, I’ve been struggling with various issues related to various doctrines of faith. As a new father who was finishing a dissertation and starting a fairly demanding new job, I’ve not had a whole ton of a lot of time to explore these issues in any detail. But this last weekend, I read a small book that explored one such issue with which I’ve been struggling–John Wesley’s Predestination Calmly Considered. Now, I’ve not read Calvin, but the glosses I’ve read and have been taught present a version of the Gospel that, well, I’ve always found troubling and unsatisfying. As a result, I’ve thought of myself as an Arminian, inasmuch as “Arminian” seems to be the opposite of “Calvinist.” Wesley’s little book, written, as is true of all of his works, as more pastoral than theological, explains and articulates the position my reading of Scripture has lead me to–or at least explains why my reading of Scripture ensures I cannot be a 5-point Calvinist.
Again, having not read Calvin, I can’t be certain that Wesley is actually giving the tenents of Calvinism a fair shake. But he does take Scripture very, very seriously. While I’m certain Reformed folk would surely disagree with Wesley, I think this little book might, indeed, be something useful for them to read as well.