For Your Reading Pleasure—New Articles

Here’s six new articles that have just been posted on Ransom’s website.

1. The first is a letter written by a teacher to his students as a new year of school begins. Preston Jones tells of two important encounters he experienced as a young man that forever changed him. Two key lessons that touch on the deepest issues of our humanity, and that are at the heart of learning to become wise. Even those of us who have left school behind can be glad to listen in. “Letter to My Students” can be read here.

2. Church rituals can sometimes feel stale and rote but then there are times when they take an idea and make it so concrete and real that we see things more clearly. I recently was present for the consecration of an Anglican bishop, and was moved by part of the ceremony. So moved, in fact, that I took a small portion of the ritual—the part about submitting to God’s word in scripture—and made it my own. It’s a short article, but a very important idea, and “Being Under Authority” can read here.

3. As I’ve read the scriptures recently a phrase has stood out to me: “Be of good courage.” It was said at various times to various people who were facing hard times and had reason to be discouraged. In a Christian setting it isn’t merely an encouragement to “buck up” but a reminder that our circumstances are not the final measure of things. If God exists, and if he is redeeming our world there is good reason to be of good courage. And since recent events in the world might be at moments a tad discouraging, you can read “Be of Good Courage” here.

4. St Augustine wrote widely on all sorts of ideas and issues and questions, and always from a Christian perspective. He had been schooled in the best Greek and Roman literature and philosophy of his day, and after his conversion steeped his mind in the scriptures. Today there is much uncertainty politically, and so it can be helpful to read what scholar Robert Louis Wilken says in “St. Augustine on the Just Society” here.

5. Speaking of Robert Louis Wilken, in The Spirit of Early Christian Thought he summarizes for lay readers the process by which the earliest Christian thinkers gave birth to a distinctly Christian perspective on life and reality. “Christian thinking,” Wilken argues, “while working within patterns of thought and conceptions rooted in Greco-Roman culture, transformed them so profoundly that in the end something quite new came into being.” Read my take on the book in “The Birth of the Christian Worldview” here.

6. The world that God created for us to live in alive and rich and full. It is place where human beings exist, of course, along with the rest of creation—myriad plants, animals of all sorts that teem on the earth and birds that fly in the sky, as well as hosts of spiritual beings, angels, cherubim, seraphim, demons, and devils—and of course, ultimately, God. It is a lively place, to say the least, a place where we are not alone. Today, however, we are told that all that is an illusion, and that only the material, only matter and energy exist in an impersonal universe, where we find ourselves so alone we are, to use Walker Percy’s memorable phrase, lost in the cosmos. I reflect on these ways of seeing reality and some implications for Christians in “Living in a Boring Cosmos” that can be read here.

[Editor’s note: These six articles appear in Critique #4-2017.]