The High and the Low of Christmas

David Russell Mosley

kung_fu_panda_holiday_cover

Advent
17 December 2015
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire

Dear Friends and Family,

So the other day I was looking for a short kids movie to watch with my sons on Netflix. The featured video was the Kung Fu Panda Holiday. Since it featured all the original cast, and I happen to like the first two Kung Fun Panda movies. Any way, to give you the briefest of synopses: Po (the panda and Dragon Warrior, read really important kung fu person) will be hosting the annual winter, undefined holiday feast at the Jade Palace (place where all the kung fu masters we met in the first movie live). This feast is highbrow. Elegant is the word of the day. Every hand gesture Po makes has meaning. Contrasted with this is the Christmas party Po’s adopted father (a goose) holds at his restaurant. This party couldn’t be more common (as Shifu says). Po feels torn in two. Should he take up the responsibility, and honor, and serve as host at the Jade Palace, or serve noodle soup with his father and their friends from the village. This is the dilemma. Should Po participate in the High or the Low? The answer, in the end, is the low, the common. Here all are welcome. The kung fu master and the low slinger of noodle soup. While cute and adorable and prioritizing family, I think the answer is a bit flawed.

In Christmas particularly do we have a coming together of the High and the Low. Although I think this only possible when we have a church celebration of the Nativity on the 25 of December. Let me explain: Particularly in a high church “style,” but ultimately any time we gather to worship, we experience something of the high. We bring ourselves in a corporate setting into the presence of God (not that God is ever not present, but in worship, in liturgy, we have the opportunity to bring time into eternity). In this sense nothing could be higher. When placed within the trappings of a high mass this becomes even more evident.

And yet a proper celebration of Christmas does not end with a church service. A celebration of the birth of Christ is not complete without feasting with one’s family and friends. Good food, games, and traditional folk songs, along with generous amounts of wine, beer, and spirits. Nothing could be more low, more common. We join in our homes, however “homely” and share in life together: we laugh, we fight, we sing. These are things common to all people. And they are beautiful in their lowness.

Christmas, in fact all of life, requires both the high and the low. I’m reminded of a story told to me by one of my PhD supervisors. He had been tasked to deliver a homily at the wedding for the child of a friend and mentor. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, was performing the actual sacrament. As the stood on the lawn outside the church, the bride along with her family and other members of the wedding party were paraded through the village. After the service, at the reception, the father of the bride gave a long and rather theological speech. When he finished, the father of the groom stood up, noticed the rather highbrow nature of things up to this point and so led the whole reception in singing an old folk song. Everyone joined in, even the father of the bride with gusto. This is a picture of what I’m talking about, the wedding of the high and the low. Both are necessary for a full life and make up the proper celebration of all holidays, Christmas not the least.

So, this Christmas, let me encourage you to seek the high and the low. By all means enjoy time with your family and the giving of gifts, enjoy your family traditions, But also make sure you enter into the presence of God. Enter into the throne room of God by entering into corporate worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. We must keep the Mass in Christmas as well as the feast in the Feast of the Nativity.

Until then, enjoy Advent and prepare yourselves for the coming of Christ.

Sincerely,
David

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What I’m Reading: December 2015 Edition

David Russell Mosley

Advent
16 December 2015
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire

Dear Friends and Family,

I’ve written these sporadically, but I’m going to try to write them a bit more regularly, at least once a month.

On the Incarnation by Athanasius of Alexandria

15106299This is one of my annual Advent/Christmas reads. If you’ve never read it, or if you’ve never read a book by an ancient Christian, then I recommend it, especially this translation. The Popular Patristics Series (patristic means relating to the early Christian theologians, often called the Church Fathers) by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press is a great series for getting translations of ancient texts in understandable English. However, it’s also a great series for the scholars out there. If you are a scholar or are interested in getting into the original languages then I’d recommend picking up this edition which has the Greek on page and English on the other. This book has been formative for me as a theologian. It’s one of the foundational pieces for understanding deification and it helps situate the Incarnation as the central cosmic event. It’s a must read for me every Advent to help prepare me for the coming of our Lord.

Theo-Poetics: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Risk of Art and Being by Anne Michelle Carpenter

25434467This is the other theological book I’m reading right now. I picked up at the recent AAR/SBL and have become acquaintances with the author. Now, my reading of Hans Urs von Balthasar has been fairly limited, but that’s not an issue with Carpenter’s book. She explains Balthasar’s thought very clearly so that you get a sense of what he’s saying without having read all the books and essays Carpenter has. That said, this is a definitely an important book in Balthasarian scholarship. Carpenter, so far anyway, is doing an excellent job explaining the importance of art and poetics to Balthasar’s theology. While she uses the word theo-poetics differently than I do in my thesis, her use is, I think still connected. For Carpenter, theo-poetics is about a poetic theology, poetic logic and images that help undergird and connect theological reflections (whereas my own use is to connect it directly theopoiesis or deification). So far the only glaring problem with this book is that it is making me want to buy more Balthasar books than I can presently afford.

Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien

593985This is another of my annual Advent/Christmas reads. Tolkien, that wonderful sub-creator, began writing his children letters from Father Christmas in 1920 when his eldest son, John, was three years old. From that first simple letter comes many more with more and more characters and events each year for the next 26 years (he stopped when his daughter Priscilla was 17). These letters are full of wonderful stories, as you can well imagine, but also wonderful pictures. Tolkien was a rather good artist in his own way and the pictures as well as samples of the handwritten letters that adorn this book are wonderful in the truest sense of the word.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

5175x9z9v8LYet another of my annual Advent/Christmas reads, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is really a book everyone should read, full stop. In this book both the meanness, the grotesque, the worst of human nature and the best are on display. Dickens perhaps knew people, and possibly even humanity in general, better than almost any other author (Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Tolkien, and a few others would perhaps also vie for this honor). In this book we get a glimpse into dark recesses of fallen human nature and even a reminder that we cannot crawl out of those recesses completely on our own. The story has, it’s true, become perhaps a bit too familiar to us with umpteen different versions of it in existence on the big and small screen. Still, if you can, try to read the story with fresh eyes and I will be much surprised if you don’t come away having been changed by the story.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

27402335For the last few years when I decided I wanted to read through the Sherlock Holmes stories, I would pull out a single-volume edition of the complete stories that I have (it’s a facsimile edition from the originals in the Strand Magazine) and attempt to read them. I say attempt because the book is massive and the pages fragile. So, this year, after reading half of A Study in Scarlet in this format I decided enough was enough, popped over to the library, and picked up several smaller volumes in order to read all the stories without the pain of using my beautiful, but unwieldy single-volume edition. If you’ve never read Holmes, I highly recommend it. These stories are witty, interesting, full of life. I will give a warning however, the majority of the second half of A Study in Scarlet is generally uncharacteristic for the rest of the Holmes stories, taking place in America and having nothing directly to do with the primary protagonists, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson.

On the Back Burner

Advent is a funny time of year for me when it comes to reading. I usually have, as you’ve seen above, several books that I like to read during Advent and Christmas time. In fact, all the books listed above as Advent/Christmas reads, are really books I’d prefer to read during Christmastide (from roughly Christmas Eve to Epiphany eve). But I’m also usually finishing books during this time and don’t like to wait before picking up a new book. But then I have to try and find books that I can actually read during Advent so that I’m done with them before Christmas, but not too much before so that I’m not just waiting around bookless for Christmas to come. For that reason, and others that make even less sense. I also have two other books that I’ve begun in the recent past but not finished and may not get back to until after Christmas.

543164The first of those books is The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. This is the first in a series of books that are collections of fairy-tales and folk stories from around the world. When I first started writing my novel 8 years ago, it was to this series of books that I turned reading every story about dwarves, goblins, elves, brownies, and more to try and ground my characters and creatures in the stories we have told ourselves about them.

1063075The second book on the back burner is The Shaping of Middle-earth by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is the fourth book in the History of Middle-earth Series put out by Christopher Tolkien. This particular volume takes through the stories as things begin to shift from Book of Lost Tales version of them to The Silmarillion version. This isn’t a great book (nor are any in the series) to serve as your “fiction read” if you divide up your reading like I do. That said, the stories in them are always fascinating, as is the insight we’re given into how Tolkien wrote and how his stories developed over time.

Well, that’s it, that’s everything I’m reading right now. What are you reading?

Sincerely,
David

Tetelestai for Good

David Russell Mosley

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Advent
12 December 2015
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire

Dear Friends and Family,

Well, I’m behind on sharing this news by a few days, but for those who don’t already know: I am completely done with my PhD! In many ways I still can’t believe. In other ways, this is an unbelievably underwhelming time for me. It’s difficult to get too excited since everything has happened while I’ve been physically removed from the University of Nottingham (where I did my PhD).

Last time I wrote you was right after I had passed my Viva. Since then, I had to resubmit my thesis with all the necessary corrections in October. I found out in mid-November that my corrections had been accepted. I was overjoyed at that news. There was a not-so-small part of me that worried I had not done enough, but evidently I had, for Rev. Dr. Alison Milbank (my internal examiner) emailed me a few days before the official word, telling me that she was happy to pass my thesis with the corrections I had made. Once I got the official word I had to get my thesis printed and bound and submitted to the appropriate people at the University. That was slightly difficult to manage from the States, but in the end it got done and I graduated, in absentia, on 8 December 2015, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

As I said, I am overjoyed, but it has been a strange process. In a way, it has been a bit like becoming a husband or a father for me. That is, it is something that comes on gradually with new complexities at each stage. When does one become a father, after all? Is it when you find out your wife is pregnant? Is it when the baby is born? Or what about becoming a husband, after all, the process starts when you begin dating your spouse and changes once you become engaged, and changes again during the wedding ceremony, and changes once again on your wedding night. Becoming a doctor has been something like that. Was I a doctor when I passed my viva? Or when my corrections were accepted? Or when I graduated? And let’s not forget all the writing that went on before that, like dating before marriage, or having sex before conception. Becoming a doctor, of course, is not exactly the same as becoming a father or a husband, but the process, the gradualness of slowly passing stages that further your steps toward the end goal, that is the same.

Whatever the case, I am, unequivocally, and irrevocably, Dr. David Russell Mosley. I thank you all for your support, for your love, prayers, and interest during this process and while I wrote this blog, occasionally updating you on what I was doing toward getting my doctorate.

A final piece of news: As you already know, I am publishing a work of fiction with Wipf and Stock Publishers.
I am also pleased to announce, though this has been the case for some time, that I will also be publishing my thesis12304154_908706462544609_6750187958427026235_o, Being Deified: Poetry and Fantasy on the Path to God, with Fortress Press in their Emerging Scholars series.

In light of all this good news, I could still use your prayers. I am still applying for jobs, teaching theology at the undergraduate and/or graduate level(s), but have not landed one yet. Please pray that one of the jobs I have already applied for, or, if not one of those, then one I will apply for in the near future, will come through and that I will be employed at an academic institution for the 2016/2017 school year. This is, perhaps, ambitious as many of my colleagues from Nottingham and elsewhere who have finished before me are still looking for work. Nevertheless, I pray for it for myself and for them and I ask that you do the same. In the mean time, I will continue to apply for jobs, write letters to you all here, and attempt to move forward with some new research topics. Until next time I remain,

Sincerely yours,
Dr. David Russell Mosley

Screwtape Proposes Democracy: Fear of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful

David Russell Mosley

screwtape-letters-by-izabela-wojcik

Advent
10 December 2015
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire

Dear Friends and Family,

Recently I saw that a friend was reading C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters with his kids as Advent reading. I liked that idea, at least of reading it to myself (my 18 month-olds are a little too young for it), and so I stole it. I finished reading it a few nights ago, concluding with “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,” and was reminded of a passage I had forgotten. Screwtape is addressing the Tempters’ College in Hell, particularly the new graduates. He is giving them advice on how to win souls for the feasts in Hell. One way Screwtape recommends doing this is through the word democracy.

What Screwtape means by democracy is the feeling “which prompts a man to say I’m as good as you” (The Screwtape Letters, 198). This, says Screwtape, is of course a lie. No one claims to be as good as another unless they don’t believe it to be true.

“No man who says I’m as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did. The St Bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept” (TSL, 198).

What is more, Screwtape suggests that it’s not hard to move from this refusal to accept that others are in some way our superiors to actually resenting them for it because it is undemocratic.

No one must be different from himself in voice, clothes, manners, recreations, choice of food. ‘Here is someone who speaks English rather more clearly and euphoniously than I––it must be a vile, upstage lah-di-dah affectation. Here’s a fellow who says he doesn’t like hot dogs––thinks himself too good for them no doubt. Here’s a man who hasn’t turned on the jukebox––he must be one of those highbrows doing it to show off. If they were the right sort of chaps they’d be like me. They’ve no business being different. It’s undemocratic'” (TSL 198-199).

Screwtape notes that what this truly is is Envy, but envy under the guise of democracy of everyone being equal, but really meaning everyone being the same. What’s more troubling for me, however, is the truth that comes from the flip side. You see, it isn’t merely the “inferior” that lord their inferiority over the superior in order to ensure equality, but those who have the chance at some kind of superiority actually keep back from it for fear of being undemocratic.

“[T]hose who come, or could come, nearer to full humanity, actually draw back for fear of being undemocratic. I am credibly informed that young humans now sometimes suppress an incipient taste for classical music or good literature because it might prevent their Being like Folks; that people who would really wish to be––and are offered the Grace which would enable them to be––honest, chaste, or temperate, refuse it. To accept might make them Different, might offend again the Way of Life, take them out of Togetherness, impair their Integration with the Group. They might (horror of horrors!) become individuals” (TSL 200).

Lewis, through Screwtape, describes some of my own fears about myself. When I’m asked about music, I don’t tend to start by declaring my preference for Bach’s Cello Concertos over nearly any other kind of music, but usually tell people that I like Flogging Molly and Weezer (which is true, but I listen to them far less often). I’ve been called a snob for preferring classical music to popular. What’s worse is that I also have a preference for sport’s coats, fedoras, pipes, craft beer, single malt scotch, fountain pens, hymns, classic literature and poetry, and the writings of Christians from 500-1900 years ago (with a few exceptions, usually those who’s own work comes out of the Tradition). Ought I to fear these preferences? Do they make me undemocratic? Should I eschew anything that makes me different from others? Since it is Screwtape who is reveling in these feelings, the answer is no. My individuality ought not to be sacrificed in order to democratic in order not to be supposedly better than anyone else. A desire for things that are truly good, beautiful, and true (and there must be room for taste as well as objectivity here, both Bach and Sufjan Stevens create objectively beautiful music, but some might prefer one to the other) must never be sacrificed for fear of being different, of being believed a snob. But there is a caveat.

There is a danger in having a preference for the superior and that is to look down on others in pride (Lewis deals extensively with pride in Mere Christianity). It is just as wrong to look at someone and I say, “I’m better than you,” because of some superiority you have––and note that for Screwtape this tendency toward full humanity is one that can only be accomplished through grace––as it is to say “I’m as good as you,” when you have some inferiority. That is pride is just as sinful as envy (they often vie for the spot of primordial sin). True superiority, or better true humanity, is not something one can lord over another, because if you do it ceases to be, or never was, true. The truly superior, the truly holy, endeavor to raise others up. Not to be the exact same person with all the same likes and dislikes, but to be more like Christ and therefore, paradoxically, more individual. One need only look to the Saints to see how this is the case. Take saints like Thomas Aquinas and Francis of Assisi for your examples: the dumb ox and the troubadour. One could not, perhaps, find two saints more different from one another in personality and taste. One was corpulent and slow to speak, though occasionally bursting out like rolling thunder. The other was more like lightning, flashing first here, then there always with a sermon or song on his lips. One was static, the other dynamic. And yet there is no denying that both are saints, that both were being and are being conformed to the Image of Christ, but as they did so their differences as well as their similarities became more solidified and not in a way that one excluded the other, for this is the beauty of the breadth of Christianity.

Well, I’ve waffled on for too long, but I want to end on this note: we should not fear our inferiority in comparison to others anymore than we should hold back from being truly superior (in the sense I’ve written about above). Ultimately, humility and charity must be the guiding principles by which we navigate these waters, but we should never be ashamed of whatever is truly good in us, should never cower from liking something because it is good and beautiful because others might think us snobs, but in everything we must be humble and charitable.

Sincerely,
David

What Does It Mean To Be a Theologian

David Russell Mosley

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Advent
3 December 2015
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire

Dear Friends and Family,

As I continue to apply for jobs, applying for nearly three for every one I don’t get, I can’t help but reflect on what it means to be a theologian. Whenever I meet new people and they ask the inevitable question, “What do you do?” I always end up answering, somewhat bashfully, “I’m a theologian.” It was easier when I was still working on my PhD. I could just tell them that I was a PhD student in theology. But I’m not anymore, and that complicates the matter. After all, I don’t have a full-time job teaching theology. So I’m not a professional theologian in the sense that I get paid regularly, and enough to make a living, to teach theology. I remember in undergrad there was a professor in our seminary, Dr. Bob Lowery, who wrote once concerning what it means to be a scholar. Did it mean publishing journal articles, writing many books?  Did it mean having a PhD or a teaching position at a university? Or did it mean being something more, something about being driven to learn and research regardless of whether one had met all the “proper requirements.” Dr. Lowery seemed to think it was the latter far more than the former. He thought that being a scholar was something much deeper than having a PhD and writing books and teaching at a university. But this is precisely what causes me to wonder what it means to be a theologian. I have academic training, the highest you can get, but does that make me a theologian? I think the answer is both yes and no. Let me explain.

Evagrius of Pontus, a fourth century theologian who is sometimes frowned upon in Western Christian circles has written, “If you are a theologian, you will pray truly. And if you pray truly, you are a theologian” (Treatise on Prayer, 61). So there is a sense in which every Christian is called to be a theologian. Being a theologian, in this sense, is one who is dedicated to life in Christ and the contemplation of the Holy Trinity. Even that can sound daunting to many lay Christians, but if you pray, you are a theologian, you are engaging in theology because you are engaging in thinking about and even talking to God.  Yet even within this understanding, there are clearly some who spend more of their time engaged with thinking about and communicating both about and to God. There are levels, gradations, of being this kind of theologian. But these gradations are not inherently tied to education. No one would deny that St. Anthony was a great theologian, but he wrote no books and had little to no formal theological training. Nevertheless, St. Athanasius views Anthony as his superior both in the faith generally and as a theologian, which is why St. Anthony was appealed to during the Council of Nicaea.

So if every Christian is a theologian and this isn’t necessarily tied to formal education, what does it mean when I call myself a theologian in the same way a cleric might call him or herself a priest, a vicar, a parson, a preacher, or a pastor? Here I have to introduce the language of vocation. Today vocation has typically come to mean training in skilled labor. This is why we have “vocational schools” which train people to be electricians, plumbers, mechanics, etc. (worthy and wonderful things). Other times it simply means the career path one has chosen. But originally, to have a vocation meant to have a calling from God to a certain way of life (the priesthood, monasticism, etc.). The word vocation itself comes from the Latin vocare: to call. I believe that I have a vocation to be a theologian, and this required for me formal and academic training.

I remember having some interactions with a former student at the University of Nottingham. He had trouble with some of the theologians in our department who often focused on issues he determined not strictly theological but philosophical (that’s as specific as I care to be, but I’m sure many of you can figure out the kind of stuff I’m talking about). He once told me that he’d rather pray in the gutter with me than read the work of some of our theologians. The Philokalia was his primary guide for what it meant to be a theologian. I don’t want to denigrate some of these opinions. Praying with the downtrodden is an immensely holy thing to do, and there are worse guides for one’s spiritual and theological life than the Philokalia. However, my issue was that this student had no room for academic training which included philosophy and critiquing modern society. He had no real room for theology as an academic discipline. And while I am sympathetic that there is a kind of theology which does not require academic training, and firmly believe that there is another kind that does.

One of my PhD supervisors, Simon Oliver, has two sayings that I often return to. He says that we know we are a royal priesthood because there are priests, that is that there are a class of people set aside for the priestly office. Similarly, he says that we know the world is sacramental because there are sacraments. The particular instantiation of the latter, priests and sacraments, allows us to understand the general instantiation of the former, royal priesthood and the sacramental nature of the cosmos. I think this applies to theologians as well. We know that all Christians are called to be theologians because there are theologians. We need people set apart to spend their lives studying theology, studying the deep things of God and his creation, for in this way can we understand that all Christians are called to some level of being theologians.

I do want to make one caveat here before I conclude. I want to return to Evagrius. Prayer, that is an active “devotional” life, and by that I mean a life of prayer and contemplation, a life of worship of the Holy Trinity, is necessary to be a theologian of any stripe. If that is missing, then one is certainly not a theologian, at least not in the Christian understanding of that word. One might study religions or a particular religion or even doctrines, but if one is not living a life of worship, participating in the rites and rituals of the Church (whichever tradition) then one is not a theologian. Another former professor of mine once told me that he never trusted, and nor should I, a theologian who doesn’t pray. I think there is much wisdom in this and the history of Christianity would certainly agree.

So, if you and I have never met and one day we do and you ask me what I do, I will tell you that I am a theologian. It has become as fundamental to me as being a husband and a father. Part of that is simply because I am a Christian and part of it is because I have trained and worked and continue to read and study and write. I am a theologian. I am a theologian because I pray. I am a theologian because I have studied to be one and continue to study. It is my calling, my vocation. At least for me, but I think more broadly as well, this is what it means to be a theologian.

Sincerely,
David

Imaginative Apologetics: A Turn to the Good and the Beautiful as well as the True

David Russell Mosley

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Advent
1 December 2015
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire

Dear Friends and Family,

About a month or so ago I finished reading an excellent little book called Imaginative Apologetics: Theology, Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition. Some of you who know me will know that I have some issues with modern apologetics. For those unfamiliar with the term, apologetics means a defense. In most Christian circles these days it means a reasoned defense of the main tenets of the Christian faith: the existence of God, of Jesus, of the Resurrection, etc. If you’ve seen or read books by Lee Strobel or Alvin Plantinga (two very different types of author, I admit), then you’ve got a sense of what much of modern Christian apologetics is about. There is a problem with all this, however (actually there are many). The late Fr John Hughes, who has an essay in this book, describes the problem this way:

Richard Swinburne famously claims to calculate the statistical probability of the existence of God and the resurrection of Christ. It is worth pausing to consider this for a moment. This is problematic, to put it mildly, not only in that these calculations clearly fail to resolve the matter (or else why would there still be atheists), but also absurd in suggesting that the existence of God and the resurrection of Christ are things whose probability can be measured like any other ordinary “thing” in the world, in the same way one might wonder about the existence of an ancient Greek battle or another planet in our solar system, rather than something much more fundamental which alters one’s entire view of everything.

Essentially, what Hughes is onto here is that so much of modern apologetics tries to play by the atheists rules. That is, in doing this kind of apologetics we are acting as though God is just another thing in cosmos which can be examined like any other thing, rather than unconditioned reality that creates and upholds all created reality. Similarly, and even more interestingly, Hughes reminds us that even the Christ-event (a fancy term concerning the entirety of Christ’s life from conception to Ascension) is decidedly not like any other event. It is a worldview changer, because it reflects something deeper about reality.

However, Hughes, nor the other contributors to this wonderful book, is not content to complain about the issues of modern apologetics. Instead, Hughes et al., suggest that a modern apologetic must attract our sense of the Good and the Beautiful as well as the True. Discussing Alisdair McIntyre’s deconstruction of postmodern irrationalism, Hughes writes:

And because we are creatures of flesh and blood rather than pure intelligences, these arguments will persuade us not by some irrefutable logic, but also by all the powers of persuasion, by their goodness and even their beauty. They will be arguments which must be enacted in our lives as well as in our words. But if they are authentic then their rhetoric will persuade by virtue of their inherent beauty and goodness, rather than because of some added spin or window dressing. Form is not accidentally related to content: the medium must fit the message.

For Hughes logical proofs are not what will bring people to faith. After all, a logical proof can be totally valid if we assume all the premises are true, but, especially when it comes to questions of the existence of God, we cannot guarantee that the premises are true. Instead, as Hughes and the other authors in this volume note, what will convert people, or better, what will transform this world is when we remember what kind of creatures we are. We are not angels, we are humans. We need narrative and beauty and morality. Christianity will be seen to be true when we can demonstrate with our lives that it is also good and beautiful, that it is more indicative of the way things really are.

Therefore, we need a lived apologetic in the same way that we need a lived evangelism. We need a lived understanding of what it means that God exists, that he created the cosmos out of nothing, that he is Tri-personal, that he exists in the relations of Father, Son, and Spirit, that the Son became Incarnate, died, and resurrected. How that looks will have variations for every individual Christian, but it will, at its heart, be revelatory about the true nature of reality, and not merely an attempt to “logic-chop” our non-Christian interlocutors. This is the kind of apologetic, the kind of life, I seek and often fail to live. Join me.

Sincerely,
David