Religion – by Author


Thomas Aquinas Hannah Arendt Matthew ArnoldAugustine of Hippo
Basil the GreatMaurice Blondel BonaventureJohn Calvin
Desert FathersMeister EckhartAdolf von HarnackHildegard of Bingen
William JamesJulian of NorwichSoren KierkegaardJohn Locke
Alfred LoisyMartin LutherJacques MaritainF.D Maurice
Maximus the ConfessorJohn OwenPsalmsPseudo-Dionysius
Richard RohrFriedrich SchleiermacherCharles TaylorVatican documents
A.N. Wilson

Thomas Aquinas

Berdyaev: On Choice and the New

Nicolas Berdyaev is a 20th century Russian Orthodox theologian. Like Vladimir Lossky, he was exiled from Russia on the philosophers’ ships in 1922, and ended up living in France, where he stayed through the German occupation during the Second World […]

Reviewing Aquinas

Well, we’re finishing with Aquinas forever for now. It’s not quite the end of the Prima Pars, but we’re close enough – 45 posts in total, counting this one but not the ContraPoints article. It’s just about a year of […]

Aquinas: On Miracles

Only a couple more weeks with Aquinas now. I’ll round off with a few comments on Aquinas generally, just talking about some of his ideas that I like or don’t really like. Might get a few in-between articles on some […]

Aquinas: Is God Hot?

We’re still working with Q105 this week. Last week we did 105.4, on whether God can change human will, and this week it’s 105.5, on “whether God is active in every agent cause.” There’s quite a lot from 105, which is why […]

Aquinas: Does God Mind-Control You?

We’re drawing to a close with Aquinas here. I’ve said before that I’ll finish with the end of the Prima Pars, but frankly I’ve had enough. I’ve done quite a bit of Aquinas – much more than any other writer […]

Aquinas: Can God Wreck Shit?

So last week we talked about how for Aquinas, all of creation depends on God for its existence. Not just in a ‘God created everyone and wandered off’ kinda way, but as in ‘Everything’s existence actively depends on God continuing […]


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Hannah Arendt

Arendt: Is Christianity Totalising?

Well, for the first time in what feels like too long, we’re coming back to Christianity. When I started The Origins of Totalitarianism, I had a suspicion that Christianity could be described as sharing particular structural similarities with a totalitarian state – […]

Arendt: Death Camps and the Shapeless State

Well, I’ve just hit the part where Arendt starts talking about the concentration camps, and it turns out that it’s some pretty heavy reading. I’m feeling totally overwhelmed right now, and (for me) one of the best ways of dealing […]

Arendt: Hobbes, Capitalism, Nazis

Well, we’ve hit the final leg of The Origins of Totalitarianism, and we’re actually starting to talk about totalitarianism, which is exciting. But before we do that, we have to dip back to an early chapter on Imperialism, which discusses Hobbes, […]


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Matthew Arnold

Matthew Arnold: Culture and Perfection

Culture and Anarchy is an 1869 book by Matthew Arnold, a Victorian poet and social critic. Originally published as a series of essays in periodicals, and later collected into book form, the central piece, ‘Culture and Anarchy’, starts by responding […]

Augustine of Hippo

Augustine: Allegory in Genesis 1

Some of you might remember an extract from my first play, CHRISTIAN, that I published here a while back. Since then, things have been going well in playwriting world – my first play has been performed, my second is in […]

Augustine: About Time

So we’re going to jump over to Confessions today, and talk a little about time. In Book XI, Augustine’s discussing time: he responds to general questions like ‘What was God doing before He created the world?’ (XI, 10), which challenge the idea […]

Augustine: Beggars in the City of God

St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City has been hailed as the greatest church in all of Christendom. It has significance for all of Christianity as both a religion and a culture or society. Drawing on Augustine’s image of the City of […]

Augustine: De Doctrina Christiana, Book 4

So I’ve officially finished reading the primary Augustine works that I was planning on reading. I’ve got a long list of texts added to it now – On The Trinity is his other big work, besides City of God, and some of […]

Augustine: De Doctrina Christiana, Book 3

This post is the third of a four-part series on Augustine’s De Doctrina Christiana – basically, it’s four books long, so we’ve got a post per book. He’s talking about language and Biblical interpretation, and in this book (Book 3), he’s looking […]

Augustine: De Doctrina Christiana, Book 2

Hey there! As per last week, we’re currently doing a book-by-book run-through of Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine, where he talks about his method of Biblical interpretation. We’ve only really just started: this week, we’re looking at Book 2, which explores dealing […]


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Basil the Great

Basil the Great: Eat the Rich

So I thought I was all finished up with that St Vlad series of patristics books. I’d bought a couple, and really enjoyed them, but I didn’t want any more on my shelf. And then I go into the local […]

Maurice Blondel

Blondel: History and Dogma

We’ve been talking over the past few weeks about the role of history in the church. First we had Harnack, who argued that the church – especially the Catholics – had introduced a whole bunch of changes and developments, taking […]


Bonaventure: Humility and Hagiography

The text: The Life of St Francis The author: Bonaventure Read it yourself: I’m using this version from the Paulist Press, but it’s a popular enough text that you’ll be able to find it online or in hard copy. It’s […]

John Calvin

Calvin: On Government

It’s our last week with Calvin! I was going to write something about his views on infant baptism (he likes it), but I don’t really care that much – if you want to read it, it’s Book 4, Chapter 16, […]

Calvin: Fasting

Did people in your church ever do the Daniel Fast? I’m showing my heritage here – in the States you’d associate it with the evangelicals. It’s very much a pop-Christianity phenomenon. I didn’t think Calvin would have anything interesting to […]

Calvin: Discipline

A couple weeks back I wrote about Calvin and cancel culture – it was a pretty straightforward run at unity and politics and leftists online, using one very specific bit of Calvin as the base for the conversation. Today I […]

Calvin: Conscientious Objections

In Book 4, Chapter 10 of The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin bashes the Catholics for making up religious laws and acting as if they “enjoined things necessary to salvation” (4.10.2). As far as he’s concerned, one of the […]

Calvin: Who Run The Church?

Girls! Girls! I know this one. Calvin spends Book 4 of the Institutes of the Christian Religion expounding upon the proper structure of the church. We talked about it a bit last week, with his idea that the one unified […]

Calvin on Cancel Culture

I spend a lot of time bashing Calvin for being a shithead, so when he’s right about something, in the spirit of goodwill and charity, I want to spend just as much time talking about how great it is. In […]


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Desert Fathers

Desert Fathers: Monks Telling Lies

The text: The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks The translator: Benedicta Ward Notes: Because this book records an oral tradition, it doesn’t have an ‘author’ per se. It’s a collection of sayings that were handed down within […]

Desert Fathers: On Women

The text: The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks The translator: Benedicta Ward Notes: Because this book records an oral tradition, it doesn’t have an ‘author’ per se. It’s a collection of sayings that were handed down within […]

Desert Fathers: On Solitude

The text: The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks The translator: Benedicta Ward Notes: Because this book records an oral tradition, it doesn’t have an ‘author’ per se. It’s a collection of sayings that were handed down within […]

Meister Eckhart

Meister Eckhart: Request or Receive?

The text: The Talks of Instruction The author: Meister Eckhart Read it yourself: I’m reading the Penguin Classic version, which has a collection of Eckhart’s sermons as well. There’s a copy of the same book on the Internet Archive. What […]

Adolf von Harnack

Harnack: Protestants vs Catholics

So last week we talked about the difference between faith and doctrine. For Adolf von Harnack, a German Lutheran theologian from the start of last century, faith is your valid personal belief in Jesus Christ, and doctrine is kinda this […]

Harnack: Faith vs Doctrine

So it’s pretty commonplace now to draw a distinction between being a good person and following a particular set of rules. People who follow the rules just for the sake of following the rules are often depicted as legalistic, as […]

Harnack: Was Jesus God?

Alright: last week I ended with a Shock Twist Ending about how Harnack doesn’t believe that Jesus was actually God. It’s actually a pretty common strain of thought within liberal Christianity – which we haven’t really touched on explicitly so […]

Harnack: Jesus and Economics

Was Jesus a communist? Throughout the twentieth century, a range of scholars and theologians were concerned to look for any economic systems or doctrines put forward by the Bible – just in case there’s anything in there that might speak […]

Harnack: The Gospel of John

You know, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to approach some of this stuff. I don’t want to be locked into explaining the basic tenets of why racism is bad, but I also don’t want to disappear […]

Adolf von Harnack: How Do You Read the Bible?

Ah, I’m glad to be working with twentieth century theology. It’s just so good. The thing about twentieth-century theology, right, is that it makes the arguments that we all use in our everyday lives, but it actually explains the underlying […]

Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen: On Mystic Visions

When I was an undergrad, I took a couple theology papers. Nothing exotic – just introductory stuff. Early in one course, my lecturer announced that God’s revelation was complete. At the time it didn’t make much sense – doesn’t God […]

William James

William James: Spiritual But Not Religious

The text: The Varieties of Religious Experience The author: William James, late 19th century psychologist Notes: This book is made up of a series of lectures delivered in 1901, in Edinburgh. We’re taking bits from Lecture 18, ‘Psychology’. Read it […]

William James: Mortification

I don’t know if anybody else has this, but whenever something bad happens in my life, I get a bit obsessed with all the different theologies and religious strategies and such that are put forth as coping mechanisms. There’s the […]

William James: Happy / Sad Religion

Alright, time for some more William James. Last week we talked about James’s basic approach in The Varieties of Religious Experience: in short, he’s out looking at the psychology of religion. In Lectures 4 – 7, James explores two different […]

William James: Religion and Neurology

I’ve had a bit of a bum run with the reading lately. I had another Maximus book on the go – On The Ecclesiastical Mystagogy – great title, not very interesting. Then I read a book of poems by Gregory […]

Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich: In and Out of Space

If you’ve been reading this blog for more than five minutes, you’ll note that I tend not to write about secondary sources. I’m not looking at the best, most up-to-date scholarship on Calvin – I just read his Institutes. That […]

Soren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard: Faith and Ethics

So last week we ripped through Fear and Trembling at something of an indecent pace. I’d like to return to the idea of faith, and do it again in more detail, specifically digging into the idea of subjectivity. If you’re not familiar […]

Kierkegaard: Abraham Did What?

Let’s get on with Fear and Trembling, then. There’s a bunch of other stuff from Either/Or to cover, but some of it will come up in other books, so I’m not desparately worried. Fear and Trembling was published in 1843, and it covers the story […]

Kierkegaard: Living Theology

I’m going to call a halt on the Psalms – we might come back to them later, but I’m far enough ahead with Kierkegaard now that we can get into it. I started off reading Either/Or, which was a mistake, because it’s […]

John Locke

Locke: On Religious Tolerance

Alright, let’s get back to Locke. The other week we talked about A Letter Concerning Toleration, where Locke suggested that Christians concerned with burning heretics should also go around burning other Christians for moral crimes. This week we’re dealing directly […]

Locke: Burn Bad Christians

I’ve lately been reading John Locke’s A Letter Concerning Toleration, which – if you’ve seen the last few articles, this scattered, jumpy sort of reading is indicative of how I normally read, outside of any major project that I’m working […]

Alfred Loisy

Loisy: Faith Changes

So we’ve been talking for the last few weeks about Adolf von Harnack, a twentieth-century Lutheran theologian and historian who argued that the church had changed over time, and that this change had taken the faith away from its historical […]

Martin Luther

Von Balthasar: Anxiety and the Church

In The Christian and Anxiety, the Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar largely focuses on the relationship between anxiety and the individual. However, in the closing pages, he touches on anxiety and the church. We might when we’re feeling […]

Luther: Warning, Contains Math

Alright, final week with On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. I’m about halfway through On the Freedom of a Christian, which is the third one of the 1520 publications, and I don’t currently have anything to say about it, so we […]

Luther: On Marriage

As in the last few weeks, we’re continuing on with Luther’s Prelude on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. This week we’re dealing with Luther’s views on marriage, which, depending on your perspective, are either quite surprising, or not.

Luther: By Faith Alone

If you know anything about Luther, you’ll probably be familiar with his idea of justification by faith. It’s basically the idea that you don’t get justified or saved by your actions, but by faith alone. You might also be familiar […]

Luther: Wine’s Fine

This week we’re dealing with the second of Luther’s three 1520 texts, A Prelude on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. It’s a great example of what’s at stake for Luther in writing these tracts. Strictly speaking, this is a text […]

Luther: You’re a Priest and So Am I

So Luther has three major texts that all come out in 1520. 1520 is kinda his year – he gets ordered to renounce a bunch of his books, produces these three major works, and then in 1521 he gets excommunicated. […]


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Jacques Maritain

Jacques Maritain: On Human Rights

I’ve been supposedly talking about Jacques Maritain for four weeks now, and I don’t feel like I’ve said a damn thing about what he’s actually writing. I’m going to try and do that today – not with reference to Christianity and […]

Maritain: Gay Marriage in Australasia

Okay so last week I started talking about Maritain and got carried away with an example and ended up talking about free speech. I’m still pretty riled up, but I’ll try and stay on topic today. Let’s talk about how […]

Gays, Christians, and Democracy

So I’ve started reading Jacques Maritain’s Christianity and Democracy, and – holy shit, we’re not even going to get to talk about the actual text today, because the introduction goes right for the hard sell. It’s the old ‘gays are hijacking […]

F.D. Maurice

F.D. Maurice: Books, Words, Friends, God

So I mentioned I’ve been travelling recently. You know what that’s like – you’re away from home, you’ve got Bonaventure in your suitcase, and then you get distracted and end up reading about 19th century Anglican socialists. John Frederick Denison […]

Maximus the Confessor

Maximus: The Use of Death

I’m starting to develop a bit of a pattern with my theology articles. I usually aim for one of two reactions: ‘what’ or ‘huh’. The ‘what’ articles focus on wacky nonsense from major theologians – as, for instance, when Aquinas […]

Maximus: When God Tried to Murder Moses

Okay so if you’re not super familiar with Exodus you might not know this, but there’s this whole thing during the Ten Plagues where God tries to murder Moses. It’s right after the burning bush episode. God’s all ‘ooh I’m […]

Maximus: The Singularity

You know how you always hear Christians talking about, oh, it’s all God’s plan – it’s not my success, it’s God’s success. It sometimes comes out as this weird humble brag, as if they think they really do deserve the […]

Maximus: The Sixth and Seventh Days

Alright so last week we talked about how Maximus treats the Sabbath as a symbol of our perfection. It’s a spiritual, metaphysical process: in his view, it’s possible for humans to come to a state of perfection or even divinity […]

Maximus: The Passive Sabbath

I didn’t do this last week, because I wanted to do the wax thing, but I guess we should take some time to introduce this book in a little more depth. Maximus the Confessor, our current author, is a 7th […]

Maximus the Confessor: Wax and Clay

Alright so Maximus the Confessor is this old-ass theologian – we’re talking church fathers, 7th century kinda guy. He’s a Confessor because he was tortured for the faith, but not actually killed – it’s like a consolation prize for not-quite-martyrs. […]

John Owen

John Owen: The Sexy Bride of Christ

There’s a scene in Keeping Mum where Rowan Atkinson and Maggie Smith are talking about Song of Songs. Rowan’s playing an Anglican priest, and he explains all about how it’s a metaphor about God’s love for His people, and Maggie […]

John Owen: Planning To Be Human

I said last week that I’m writing mostly here about the public side of Christianity – about the structures and systems of Christian thought. Following that, this week we’re going to talk about some of the most niche abstract hypothetical […]

On the Hidden Things

You know, I like John Owen, but I like him in a way that isn’t super interesting to talk about. I’m currently reading an abridged version of Owen’s Communion With God – from the same series as when I was […]


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Psalm 53

Psalm 53 is probably more well known as a passage from Romans, where Paul quotes it in setting out his rubric of Christian faith. I’ll talk a little bit about the theology, because it’s interesting, and then I’ll get back […]

Psalm 46

Alas! I missed a post last week – it’s the first time possibly since I began that I’ve actually missed a deadline. I took a couple weeks off for a show a few months back, but that was a deliberate […]

Psalm 4: Comparisons

And now we’re jumping back to Psalm 4. There’s two waves to my reading of Psalms at the moment – I’m going through and doing my own close readings, and then I’m following along comparing my NSRV version to a […]

Psalm 43

Hey, we’re back to the psalms. Cool. There’s a whole block in the 30s that would be great fun to look at, but they’re all ninety stanzas long, so it’s not really practical here. I might change my format eventually […]

Psalm 29

Psalm 29 is interesting primarily because it revolves around the speech-act. We’ve been talking a bit about the act of speech in the last few psalms (13, 28), and this one draws out the speech-act in the context of the […]

Psalm 28

This week I thought it might be interesting to compare Psalm 28 with Psalm 13. We’ve done 13 previously; you don’t have to read it though, because we’ll mostly be comparing general structure. One of the things about the Psalms […]


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Pseudo-Dionysius: Church Authority

We’re making our way to the end of Pseudo-Dionysius now – just the last few letters left. There’s ten letters extant, and they’re interesting, because we’re not sure if they’re actual letters or if they’re ‘letters’ in a C.S. Lewis […]

Pseudo-Dionysus: Appropriate Knowledge

I’ve started on The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, which is the last of the four works extant by Pseudo-Dionysus. Well, we’ve got a bunch of letters (ten?), and we’ll get to those, but in terms of formal works, this is the last one. The […]

Pseudo-Dionysus: The Self-Giving God

I’ve been thinking a bit more about that whole hierarchy scenario we talked about a couple weeks back. Basically Pseudo-Dionysus has this idea where everybody exists in this hierarchy stretching all the way up towards God, who of course is […]


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Richard Rohr

Richard Rohr: On Criticism

Well, this is my last post before leaving town. The video games queue is pretty far ahead – I’ve been setting up Wolfenstein articles through to July – but this is where we’re up to with the theology queue. Around […]

Friedrich Schleiermacher

Niebuhr: On Belonging

So we’ve been looking over the past few weeks at Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture (Niebuhr: On Christ and Culture). I won’t go over the basic argument of the book again, except to say that it’s about how believers understand […]

Schleiermacher: What Does the Bible Mean?

So if you’re a little edgelord, and if it’s your first time saying anything mean about Christianity, your first port of call might be the authority of the Bible. Christians claim the Bible is the Word of God, but how […]

Schleiermacher: Sin is Communal

The text: The Christian Faith The author: Friedrich Schleiermacher Notes: The text is organised by sections, and also ‘paragraphs’ – where each paragraph, so-called, is essentially one doctrine. Today we’re talking about paragraph 71. Read it yourself: I haven’t found […]

Schleiermacher: God and The Multiverse

When people talk about God’s omniscience, we generally have a vague idea of what they mean. God just knows everything – He knows all the stuff that exists, and all the thoughts that people have, and He probably knows the […]

Schleiermacher: What’s a Miracle?

The text: The Christian Faith The author: Friedrich Schleiermacher Notes: The text is organised by sections, and also ‘paragraphs’ – where each paragraph, so-called, is essentially one individual argument. Today we’re talking about paragraphs 46 and 47, in the First […]

Schleiermacher: The Protestant Tradition

So we’ve been talking recently about this idea that spiritual experience is at the heart of religion – that all of the different religions that exist, with all their systems and explanations, are essentially laid over the top of the […]


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Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor: Defending Tolerance

I wrote a post a while back on an introduction to Charles Taylor, and immediately after finishing that post I put the book down for, uh, a month or so. But I picked it up again today, and now I’m […]

The Structure of Apologetics

I’m currently reading an introduction to Charles Taylor – it’s part of an obscene stack of Christmas books. There was an interesting comment about why apologetics is stupid, and I want to investigate it further. Basically the argument is that […]


Reflecting on Practice: The Catholics

I’ve been writing about some Catholics authors lately – people like Loisy and Blondel, and some of the documents and encyclicals issued by the Vatican – and I feel that in the interest of transparency, we should maybe stop to […]

Lamentabili Sane: 65 Banned Beliefs

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring the responses of different thinkers to the development of historical criticism in the Church. The first thinker, Adolf von Harnack, a Protestant theologian, argued that the church had changed over time, that […]

Pope Benedict XVI Vs Yoga

Alright, I teased about this a couple weeks back, and today we’re doing it: Pope Benny XVI having a go at yoga. The text: ‘Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation’, 1989 The […]

A.N. Wilson

A.N. Wilson: Jesus in History

I spotted a book on reading the Bible by A.N. Wilson in the library, so I picked it up and decided to give it a go. As it turns out, it’s a good read – although there’s one particular point […]