Religion

Religion is one of those things that, depending on who you are, can mean almost anything. It’s simultaneously so personal and so broad that it feels almost impossible to talk about.

And yet that’s what we do here. We talk here about the stories of religion – the stories that we tell ourselves and each other about where we’re from, and what life means. We talk about the stories that shape the lives of believers all around the globe.

To date, we’ve only really been talking about Christianity. That’s my background, my heritage – it’s the only one where I feel like I have the understanding and authority to talk about it in depth. Eventually we might broaden our range – but for now, that’s where we are.

Check out some of the quick-start topics below, or scroll down for the most recent – updates every Sunday.

On Now: 20th-C Catholics

Catholic thinkers from across the 20th century.

The Big Four

Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin

By author

All the texts we’ve discussed, listed by author

Most recent:

Christian Hermeticism: On Marxism

Alright, this is it for the crazy tarot book. Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism is an anonymously written Catholic text from the 20th century. It takes the 22 major arcana as a jumping off point to reflect on Christian theology, and if it sounds like an unnecessary way to go about […]

Christian Hermeticism: Flat Earth and Evolution

Alright I flagged last week that this guy went off about evolution and geocentrism, and this week we’re going to talk about it. Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism is an esoteric Catholic text from the mid-20th century. It’s written anonymously, and it uses tarot cards as essentially an organising principle to […]

Christian Hermeticism: On Magic

The standard narrative around magic and the supernatural is that we used to describe things as magic when we didn’t understand them. The sacrificial acts of the Greeks and Romans, of the Jews – these were attempts to placate divine beings, which stood in for natural forces. These cultures gave shape and name to wind […]

Christian Hermeticism: On Identity

When Christians come to engage with other traditions or types of thought, you’ll often see one of two approaches: attack or absorb. The ‘attacking’ approach tries to undermine the credentials or the conclusions of these alternate traditions, while the ‘absorbing’ approach intimates that the underlying principles are identical, suggesting that the alternate tradition is sort […]

Pilgrim’s Progress: Space and Text

There is a parallel in Pilgrim’s Progress between walking and talking, between language and the journey to the Celestial City. The arc of the story traces the pilgrim’s allegorical journey towards heaven, towards salvation – it’s a spiritual journey translated into a spatial context, drawing on spatial images from the Bible – for instance, Matthew […]

Pilgrim’s Progress: On Talkative

After a full year of writing about 20th century Catholic theology, I’m excited to say that we’ll be moving on to writing about the Orthodox church in 2022. We’re staying with 20th century authors, as that’s our focus for this larger cycle, but we’ll be settling in with the Orthodox instead of the Catholics. After […]

Guardini: On Leisure and Productivity

Near the end of his 1950s text Power and Responsibility, the German Catholic priest Romano Guardini makes the quite salient point that our increasing understanding and control of the material world around us won’t solve the basic questions of human existence. “When traffic moves more swiftly, smoothly,” he asks, “will people really gain time? They […]

Guardini: On Globalisation

We’re going to move on this week to another of Romano Guardini’s texts – Power and Responsibility. I’ve spent some time criticising Guardini – for his Eurocentrism, for his insular religious arrogance – but he does have some interesting things to say. Partly the issue is that the previous text, The End of the Modern […]

Guardini: The Cane and the Senate

The idea of caning or physical discipline of children in schools is one of those ideas that’s dropped out of fashion quite quickly. The dates will change depending on what data you’re referring to (the Norwegians banned corporal punishment in schools in the 1930s), but broadly speaking it became increasingly unacceptable during the 80s and […]

Romano Guardini: Man and the World

You know, I felt a little bad about kicking Romano Guardini back in August. I said some stuff about how he comes off as a bit of a shithead, how he kinda just sounds like he hates poor people and, like, accessible art – and I decided that maybe I was reading something unrepresentative. Maybe […]

Von Balthasar: On Sex and Women

Alright, time for a weird one. One of the things about metaphor in the Christian tradition – and I suppose probably elsewhere as well – is that the material form of the metaphor carries meaning alongside the primary metaphorical idea. We’ve talked about this previously with Maggie Mae Fish and the book of Hosea – […]

Von Balthasar: Time is for Waiting

This week we’re looking at Hans Urs von Balthasar’s A Theology of History, a title with possibly the funniest elevator pitch I’ve read in a book of theology. This is the first little bit of the blurb: “It is not surprising that, as a Christian, Hans Urs von Balthasar finds the meaning of history in […]

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