Photo by Hugo.
The thing about a newsreader is that it will pump so many stories at you that you won’t ever be able to keep up with them. Doing justice to the stories you do get to – and do manage to flag as worthy of more attention – is a tough task. Lots of things will fall through the cracks unless you attempt a catch up post in which you give readers links and juicy quotes and send them on their way.
The thing that will immediately strike anyone who takes the time (and it will be time well-spent) to engage the older literature of American Conservatism, is the marvelous variety of these characters. Here you will find real diversity. Here, if you are a person of sensitive and critical intellect, you may be purged of the unthinking prejudice of our age, which tells you that diversity consists in the superficial — in matter and not in mind.
One Cosmos, the blog that’s so good you can pick any quote from any post and be wowed:
… the universe is not merely a form of our sensibility. In other words, no matter how far science extends its probe into the dark, it is still going to be a human hand grasping a slightly more elaborate cane. And, needless to say, the universe is what it is, regardless of — or in addition to — what we say or think it is.
To put it another way, science extends our senses forward, backward, and below, in so doing “widening” our conception of the cosmos, both spatially and temporally. But religion serves a different purpose. It too is a probe in the dark, but it specifically probes the inward and the upward. This is the great confusion of both scientific fundamentalists and religious literalists. The former imagine that the horizontal probes of science exhaust all that may be probed, whereas the latter imagine that religion is meant to probe the material world. Thus, for example, they attempt to use Genesis to probe the horizontal, just as scientists imagine that they can explain anything of a non-trivial nature about the vertical by relying solely upon their sensory probes.
Some thoughts on Divine Perfection. How come the new atheists never address any of this?
We now turn first to three classical divine perfections, which seem to me to be the three most misunderstood. First, God is all-powerful. Does God’s omnipotence mean that he can do anything that is not logically contradictory? Does it make theological sense, for example, to say that God is more powerful than Satan? It does not. There are different kinds of power, and divine power and demonic power are incommensurable. Nor does it make sense to say that God has chosen divine over demonic power, as if God’s will were primary and his nature secondary (the nominalist fallacy). On the contrary, God’s nature is the grammar of God’s will, which is a Wittgensteinian way of saying that God’s being and acts are one. God is love (I John 4:8) – that is the defining divine perfection – and God is love from tip to toe. God’s only power is the power of love, in which there is no domination, coercion, or violence. Such is the imminent perichoretic, self-giving, non-rivalrous love of the Trinity, economically embodied in the cross (and, as Luther said, crux probat omnia). “Omnipotence,” T. F. Torrance urges, “is what God does, and it is from His ‘does’ rather than from a hypothetical ‘can’ that we are to understand the meaning of the term. What God does, we see in Christ.” Rowan Williams suggests that the mess we often get ourselves into here comes from the tendency to picture God as having a human psychology only bigger. It is the same tendency that opens the Pandora’s boxes both of Calvin’s “horrible decree” of double predestination and of “the evils of theodicy” (Terrence Tilley).