David Jeffrey, Tolkien, and the Nature of Literature

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s2smodern



In the midst of Ph.D. work I discovered the scholarship of David Lyle Jeffrey.  I am very thankful I did.  His books that I have read (and he has written others), The People of the Book: Christian Identity and Literary Culture and Houses of the Interpreter: Reading Scripture, Reading, are simply excellent.  I recently read his Andrew Lang Lecture, given at University of St. Andrews in 2004.  It is titled "Tolkien and the Future of Literary Studies," and appears in Tree of Tales: Tolkien, Literature, and Theology (Baylor University Press, 2007). . . 

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Modernity as Heresy

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I had the opportunity recently to spend the weekend at my alma mater, Baylor University.  It was great to see old friends and professors, and to make new friends.  The setting was Baylor's Institute for Faith and Learning conference, "Secularization and Revival."  My thanks to the Institute for Faith and Learning for a great conference.  I gave a paper titled, "Modernity, the Heart and Getting Things Right: Modernity as More Than Simply Getting the Ideas Wrong."  I essentially argued that when we think of "modernity," we should not simply think in terms of this or that intellectual move or step (or misstep)--the one I singled out was nominalism, as seen in Richard Weaver, Michael Allen Gillespie, and--in a unique way--Colin Gunton. . .

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Augustine the Preacher

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There is an interesting story about the power of preaching that Serge Lancel recounts in his St Augustine (SCM Press, 2002), 351 (found in Augustine's De Doctrina Christiana, IV, 53).  In the years 418-419 Augustine had to deal with numerous pastoral issues over a hectic two-year period.  At one point, while in Caesarea during this time, he discovered a certain custom in this city.  On certain days of the year the citizens of the city would divide into two groups and would try and stone one another to death (called the caterva, "free-for-all").  Augustine chose to preach against this practice, and as Lancel recounts, Augustine "overwhelmed them, moved them to tears and, by the power of his words, achieved what no urban policing had ever managed--the eradication of a barbaric custom, to the extent that several years later it had not reappeared." 

Constitution Day

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Today, September 17, is "Constitution Day."  For Americans, one of the most important things one can do in terms of developing a person's view of civil government, is simply to read the Constitution.  It is an illuminating (and perhaps depressing) experience. . .

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