Summaries: The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, Letter Eleven: Friendship (part two)

 

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series. Click here for more chapter summaries from The Pillar and Ground of the Truth.

Christianity is marked by an “agape-philia” antinomy. This antinomy exercises itself in “equal love for all and each in their unity, concentrated in a single focus of love for several, even for one in his separation from the general unity.” Christianity is marked by a paradoxical character that is both esoteric and exoteric, which is “not rationally compatible… [but] reconcilable only in the most profoundly mysterious Christian life.” Continue reading

Summaries: The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, Letter Eleven: Friendship (part one)

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series. Click here for more chapter summaries from The Pillar and Ground of the Truth.

Letter eleven opens with Florensky’s description of a snowy night that brings back memories of his friend. “I light a fragrant candle of amber-yellow wax before the Mother of God. We brought this candle from there, that is, from where you and I wandered together… Again I am with you. Every day I remember something about you, and then I sit down to write. Thus, from day to day, my life slides toward ‘the other shore,’ so that I could at least look at you from there, ‘by love having defeated death / and by death having defeated the passions . . .’” Continue reading

Summary: Pavel Florensky’s The Pillar and Ground of the Truth

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series.

Pavel Florensky, identified by many as the greatest Russian Orthodox theologian of his time, wrote largely at the beginning of the twentieth century. Drawing from his broad education in philosophy, religion, art, and folklore, he wrote The Pillar and Ground of the Truth: an Essay in Orthodox Theodicy in Twelve Letters while a student, finishing it in 1908. It was published several years later in 1904. The book is composed of twelve letters, written to a “brother” or a “friend”, and is a broad exploration of Russian Orthodox theology. Continue reading

Summary: The Friend Chapter 2, Friend to Sir Philip Sidney

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series. Click here for more chapter summaries from The Friend.

In the seventeenth century, Fulke Greville planned a joint memorial for himself and his friend Philip Sidney. Like the tombstone of Sir William Neville and Sir John Clanvowe in the fourteenth century, the arrangement “might have been expected of the tomb of a husband and wife.” However, the sixteenth century tomb marks a development in the understanding of friendship.  Continue reading

Summary: The Friend: Chapter 1, Wedded Brother

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series. Click here for more chapter summaries from The Friend.

Chapter one begins with a tomb in a fourteenth-century Dominican church in modern-day Istanbul. The shared tombstone of Sir William Neville and Sir John Clanvowe shows helmets facing each other, corresponding “to the stylized depiction of a kiss, and the arrangement of… two overlapping shields below to that of an embrace.” He notes that the arrangement of the arms “is that of a married couple.” Continue reading

Summary: Alan Bray’s The Friend

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series.

The Friend is a book that grew out of Alan Bray’s encounter with the shared tomb of John Finch and Thomas Baines in the chapel of Christ’s College at Cambridge. It was published postmortem. It sought to answer the question, when faced with this tomb: “What do you make of this?” Bray believes that friendship occupied a distinctive place in what he identifies as “traditional society”, in contrast to modern culture, which he claims suffers “a crisis of friendship.” Modern culture views friendship as essentially private, while traditional culture valued friendship as a public institution. Faced with the polemicist historians for and against the “traditional family”, Bray seeks to navigate a challenging history of friendship that cannot be considered separately from the history of the family. He notes that the evidence suggested a “formal and objective character that friendship could possess that could overlap with the character of kinship.” The proceeding chapters pursue this character.  Continue reading

Video: Gay and Catholic

In October, I gave a talk at the University of Notre Dame on being gay and Catholic. Part one has the main talk, and part two is the Q&A.

The Pain of Parting

Michelangelo began sculpting the Pietá when he was about 23 years old, about a year older than most of the students who will soon graduate from Notre Dame. His Pietá was a novel piece among Italian art representing Our Lady. The artistic tradition had previously maintained a Mary who stood strong at the foot of the cross and who neither trembled nor wept upon her Son’s death. This tradition had stressed a kind of devotion to God that neither swayed nor sorrowed at times of loss or pain.  Continue reading

On poverty and the theology requirement

I recently attended the United Nations 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Representatives from around the world discussed the relationship between poverty and the education of women. The Western nations tended to present abstract arguments for “disaggregating data” and the importance of increased access of opportunity to education, political office and economic capital as a means of eradicating the poverty suffered by women in both developed and undeveloped nations. Indeed, access to education seemed to me a valuable means to the empowerment of women until a Nigerian delegate objected that “access to education” does not ensure “quality education.”  Continue reading