News, Vol. 1
I figured it might be a good idea to provide a semi-regular roundup of the things I've been doing, and especially writing, elsewhere, providing links and summaries so you can find everything in one place. This is the first such installment, and today I'm highlighting two things, one of which is new, and the other of which is newly free.
First, as some of you may know, last week, The Davenant Press launched A Protestant Christendom? The World the Reformation Made, edited and introduced by myself. The book aims to "to illuminate Protestantism's historic vision of society, culture, and governance, with the aim of applying its rich legacy in our own day." Below is an excerpt from my introduction:
Protestantism made the modern world—or so the polemicists have told us. Over the last several centuries, debates between Catholics and Protestants, or about Catholicism and Protestantism, have shifted: no longer do our polemics merely argue for the veracity or superiority of this or that position. We now seek to defend our respective traditions based on their societal and political fruits. Does Protestantism produce good, progressive, free societies? Or does it rather produce godless, Erastian, libertine societies? Again, does Catholicism produce enchanted, traditional, morally serious societies? Or does it produce superstitious, stultifying, backwards societies? No longer content to debate the merits of our respective traditions, we debate their second- and third-order effects. Older generations of theologians and historians argued that Protestantism laudably overthrew (Catholic) superstition—creating societies grounded on reason, freedom, and the individual...A more recent crop of genealogists, including Alasdair MacIntyre, Brad Gregory, and Charles Taylor, also look upon Protestantism as the begetter of this distinctive characteristics of modernity, although they associate “modernity” with a different regime having ambivalent connotations: secularity. For them, Protestantism still stands in a causal relationship to modernity, but modernity is no longer considered an unambiguous good.
You can buy the book here.
The second thing I'm highlighting today is the happy news that my article "The Beloved Icon: An Augustinian Solution to the Problem of Sex," published in The Scottish Journal of Theology has been made open access. You can therefore read the whole thing for free, without an institutional/university login. Below is the first paragraph of the article:
In The Myth of the Eternal Return Mircea Eliade argued that premodern man understood the meaning of acts to lie in the ‘property of reproducing a primordial act, of repeating a mythical example’.1 Actions participated in and exemplified mythical events; their significance was never primarily physical. Whatever its general applicability, this claim about the mythic import of premodern acts captures a crucial element of Augustine's vision of human sexuality: there is no ‘mere sex’. That is, sex's significance cannot be reduced to the physical interactions of bodies. Its primary meaning, Augustine believed, is derived not from biological facts, nor even from the emotional or psychological states which attend the sexual act, but from the fall. As shall be demonstrated below, Augustine saw the postlapsarian sexual act as inextricably bound up with sinful lust, and such lust as a punishment inherited from the fall. In every sexual act, lust embodies both the sin of the fall and that sin's consequences. Fallen sex sinfully dramatises fallenness.
You can read the whole article here.