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April 10th, 2008 | 2 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

I'm a bit too tired tonight to write something original, so I thought I would annotate a few of the items that have caught my eye so far this week.  Additional selections are welcome (in the comments, or email me at matthew dot l dot anderson at gmail dot com), as are topic recommendations for future posts!

Calvin and the De-Centered Self

Over at Leithart's place, Eric Enlow tries to do for Calvin what I aimed to do for Augustine--defend his theory of the 'self' against the charge that it is non-relational:

“I read this to say: (1) man is distinguished from the animals by the  nature of his common life, (2) because man’s common life is grounded in the light of understanding, and (3) man has this common life because of his similarity to God whose Sermo Dei is the image of man.

“So, the light of men is one with the Conversation of God and since we were made in God’s image, it requires us to achieve a distinct kind of social life through the light of conversational understanding.”

Too Smart to Understand

I'll have to read the following (at least!) another three times before I'm confident commenting on it, but in the meantime I'll share it, as it is certainly thought-provoking:

Ironically I think one of the more pomocon things to do is to recognize that deconstruction does not equally threaten all political philosophies. But again this raises more questions than it answers. When it all boils down, Rorty and Fish (for instance) may paradoxically be able to rely on the United States Armed Forces to perpetuate and protect a system without any of their interests at the fore which nonetheless guarantees their best chance of survival and even flourishing. Postmodern bourgeois liberalism is parasitic on a global political system that's largely inimical to it. Yes, this is something of a dig, but then again Plato long ago recognized that this relationship also basically describes that between philosophy and democracy, at least until some philosopher or group of philosophers encounters the unthinkable (the people nominate them to rule or one day a ruler turns out to have been a philosopher). Whether or not a postmodern bourgeois liberal can cop to this relationship requires them to take a certain stance on politics, one which deconstructs Rorty's claim that we should/do call truth whatever wins in an 'open encounter'.

Read the whole thing.

Paul and Rome:  Friends or Enemies?
Michael Bird highlights a forthcoming book from Seyoon Kim (which promises to be excellent), then comments:

My own view on this is: (1) Yes, alot of the counter-imperial stuff on Paul is blown out of all proportion and Paul is turned into a socially progressive anti-reagan and anti-bush UMC minister in Connecticut (no offence to UMC ministers, it's just a caricature). (2) But at the end of the day you only have to read Acts 17.7, 1 Thess. 5.3, and do a short word study of 'gospel', 'Lord', 'grace', and 'parousia' in the Greco-Roman sources to see that Paul's gospel is theopolitical, which is hardly surprising as Israel's prophetic hopes had always been theopolitical too.

I think Bird is exactly right.  Paul never repudiates his Roman citizenship--if anything, he uses it in places where he doesn't seem to need it to earn certain privileges (like Acts 16:37).

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.