A special Christmas review of noteworthy books, movies and music.
Categories include theology and spirituality, history and current
events, fiction, poetry, children's literature, movies on DVD, classical
music and popular music.
Early modern versions of the argument from design relied upon a simple analogy: the universe looks like an artifact, which implies a maker. But as David Hume pointed out, one would need experience observing universes being made to judge that the analogy holds true.
There is an ongoing debate about the angels in Andrei Rublev's icon of the Trinity, painted around 1410, and about which one represents the Son and which the Holy Spirit. For the Word become flesh, my money is on the one wearing blue and brown, for those hues suggest one who comes from heaven to earth to reconcile both in his one person.
The author's breadth of vision has enormous implications for how we
understand the nature of Christian truth and the relationship between
indispensable core doctrines and later theological interpretations.
On a Sunday when John the Baptist's call
for repentance roars in our ears, we need reminders of the precedence of
gift, the prevenience of grace. For John's sermonic cry to "prepare the
way of the Lord" can seem all task and no gift. It calls out the Pelagian in all
of us, the voluntarist who wants to build the kingdom. Careless hearing leads
us to imagine that if we "make his paths straight," he will come.
Two decades have passed since nearly a million people were killed in the Rwandan genocide. Photographer Pieter Hugo has been taking photographs of Hutu perpetrators alongside Tutsi survivors. In each case the perpetrators have asked for and the survivors have granted forgiveness. Hugo says the photos are very revealing: in some photos the subjects appear very comfortable with each other, in others there is noticeable physical and emotional distance between them. “There’s clearly different degrees of forgiveness,” he says, adding that forgiveness isn’t motivated by benevolence as much as “a survival instinct” (New York Times Magazine, April 6).