Links and videos I Normally Would Have Posted on Facebook: III

David Russell Mosley

4 March 2014
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire

Dear Friends and Family,

‘What I didn’t know about St Quentin was that its basilica is one of six important French church buildings which contain labyrinths, the best known of which is Chartres. The one at St Quentin follows the same pattern as Chartres, though is slightly smaller and based on an octagon rather than a circle, so its lines are straight and segmented rather than curved. But it is superior to Chartres in that it is always accessible to the public, whereas at Chartres the labyrinth is usually covered with chairs, and only cleared for walking on once a week. I have long been interested in labyrinths, and had even drawn up plans to build one in the theological college where I was on staff. So I took the opportunity to walk around it.’

Life as labyrinth from Psephizo

The Netherlands Bach Society is performing and recording the entire works of Bach. This one is probably my favourite, still being a Bach Neophyte.

‘While it’s true that we can know something about Bach from his music and that we can know something about God from his effects, in both cases our knowledge remains imperfect and incomplete. We can never attain comprehensive knowledge of God; we can only plunge further and further into his infinite intelligibility, and as a result we come to love him more and more truly. But God’s knowledge of us is comprehensive; he does know every single thing there is to know about us. He is, as St. Augustine said, “more inward than the most inward place of my heart and loftier than the highest.” Just as no one could ever know more about Bach’s music than did the composer himself, so no one can know us more deeply than can the Creator himself. We’re not just knowers, we’re known knowers. We’re not mere musicologists, outside observers examining these things from afar—we’re the music!’

MYSTERY AND MUSIC from Word on Fire

‘But it was this past November that one of my sons asked a question that I had (as far as I can recall) never thought of in the form he posed it: “Dad, okay, I get that God has no beginning, that he is the reason for his own existence, but this is what I still don’t get: Why does God exist? I mean, what’s his purpose for existing? And why is he love and not, like, meanness or something else? Oh, and if he’s really free, did he choose to come self-exist and be a Trinity?”’

WHY DOES GOD EXIST? From Word on Fire
‘The ISIS barbarians were actually quite right in entitling their video “A Message Written in Blood.” Up and down the centuries, tyrants and their lackeys have thought that they could wipe out the followers of Jesus through acts of violence. But as Tertullian observed long ago, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. And they were furthermore right in sending their message to “the Nation of the Cross.” But they should know that the cross taunts them.’

‘”Adoption matters because it helps to get rid of a culture of death, and move against the practice of abortion, the practice of modern slavery and people trafficking. It can help avoid infanticide – most of us don’t know that hundreds of children in Holland are euthanised every year. It’s happening in modern Europe.”‘

John Milbank quoted on John Milbank: Adoption reduces abortion, human trafficking and infanticide from Christianity Today

‘Lent prepares us so that the seeming irregularity of the timing of Resurrection Sunday does not take us by surprise. As in the parable of the ten virgins (Mt 25:1-13), Lent is a time to make sure we have enough oil to keep our lamps lit until the bridegroom comes. It is the time of literal darkness in which we should cultivate our light. Since Easter’s timing seems so irregular, we are a bit like the virgins with the lamps—not entirely sure when the groom will arrive. Lent teaches us to tend our light.’

Scholar’s Compass: Lent and Easter’s Timing from Emerging Scholars Blog
‘”Sin is sin, but people live with different degrees of pressure and temptation. … No one knows for sure how hard temptation might bear on another. It is like Augustine exclaiming in exasperated compassion, when faced with Pelagian teachers who insisted that all sin was a fully conscious rejection of God, “Most sins are committed by people weeping and groaning.” A temptation that might seem trivial to you could be crushing to another; an obsession that haunts you day and night may be incomprehensible to someone else. … everyone comes from a different past, with different memories and abilities.” (Where God Happens, p 40)’

Rowan Williams quoted on Lenten Wisdom From the Desert Day 9 from And There Is Every Quest
If you have any interest in living in a monastic type community, for, oh, say, a year, then I highly encourage you to apply for the Community of St Anselm. This yearlong monastic community project is being done by the Church of England and will be headed up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Definitely check it out, even if you’re not Anglican.

Apply now to spend a year in God’s time

Why Study the Gift with John Milbank and Simon Oliver at the University of Nottingham.
Sincerely yours,

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Simon Oliver

simon_oliverDear Friends and Family,

I’ve been at the University of Nottingham for nearly two years now and have gotten to know many members of our faculty fairly well. That being the case, I thought I would take some time to do posts on some of our faculty. These first posts I intend to do will be on faculty I think to be stellar, but relatively unknown (or at least not widely known).

The first member of our faculty I wish to highlight is Dr Simon Oliver, Head of Department for Theology and Religious Studies here at Nottingham. Simon works in systematic and philosophic theology. Simon is also a priest in the Anglican Church, serving as  honorary Canon Theologian at the minster in Southwell and is an associate priest at a local parish. Simon also happens to be one of my supervisors. He is currently working on a book dealing with creation and teleology that meshes well with my own project on deification. You can read more about Simon’s interests here.


  • OLIVER, SIMON, KILBY, KAREN and O’LOUGHLIN, TOM, eds., 2012. Faithful Reading: New Essays in Theology in Honour of Fergus Kerr London: T&T Clark.
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 2012. The Parallel Journey of Faith and Reason: Another Look via Aquinas’s ‘De Veritate’. In:Faithful Reading: New Essays in Theology in Honour of Fergus Kerr London: T&T Clark. 113-130
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 2012. Representing Evil in ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Life is Beautiful’. In: SELLARS, JEFF, ed., Light Shining in a Dark Place: Discovering Theology through Film Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications.
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 2011. Actuality in Theology and Philosophy. In: MURPHY, FRANCESCA ARAN and BRITTAIN, CHRISTOPHER CRAIG, eds., Theology, University, Humanities: Initium Sapientiae Timor Domini Eugene, OR: Cascade Books. 91-111
  • OLIVER, S., 2010. Trinity, Motion and Creation Ex Nihilo. In: COGLIATI, C., SOSKICE, J. and STOEGER, W., eds.,Creation and the God of Abraham Cambridge University Press. 133-151
  • OLIVER, SIMON and MILBANK, JOHN, eds., 2009. The Radical Orthodoxy Reader Routledge.
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 2009. Wisdom in Theology and Philosophy. In: MCGEE, M. and CORNWELL, J., eds., Philosophers Amongst the Gods Continuum.
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 2009. Christ, Descent and Participation. In: PABST, ADRIAN and PADDISON, ANGUS, eds., The Pope and Jesus of Nazareth: Christ, Scripture and the Church London: SCM.
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 2008. Love Makes the World Go ‘Round: Motion and Trinity. In: SCHINDLER, D.L., ed., Love Alone in Credible: Hans Urs von Balthasar as Interpreter of the Catholic Tradition Eerdmans.
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 2008. What can Theology offer Religious Studies?. In: OLIVER, S. and WARRIER, M., eds., Theology and Religious Studies: An Exploration of Disciplinary Boundaries T&T Clark.
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 2008. The Holy Trinity and the Liturgical Subject. In: LEACHMAN, J., ed., The Liturgical Subject: Subject, Subjectivity, and the Human Person in Contemporary Liturgical Discussion and Critique SCM.
  • OLIVER, SIMON and WARRIER, MAYA, eds., 2008. Theology and Religious Studies: An Exploration of Disciplinary Boundaries T&T Clark.
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 2005. The Sweet Delight of Virtue and Grace in Aquinas’s Ethics International Journal of Systematic Theology. 7(1), 52-71
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 2005. Philosophy, God and Motion Routledge.
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 2005. Robert Grosseteste on Light, Truth and Experimentum Vivarium. 43(1), 109-138
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 2001. Motion according to Aquinas and Newton Modern Theology. 17(2), 163-199
  • OLIVER, SIMON, 1999. The Eucharist before Nature and Culture Modern Theology. 15(3), 331-353

Videos for the University of Nottingham

Why Study an MA in Systematic and Philosophic Theology at Nottingham

Why Study Plato

Why Study Aristotle

Why Study Negative Theology

Why Study Thomas Aquinas

Why Study Systematic Theology

Why Study the Theology of Creation

Philosophy in Theology with Karen Kilby and Simon Oliver

Sacramentality with Tom O’Loughlin and Simon Oliver

The Big Society with John Milbank and Simon Oliver

I hope you enjoyed these videos and will take the time to look up some of Simon’s work. He is an excellent and gracious theologian and it is my honour to work with him.


What is Radical Orthodoxy?

Cover of "After Writing: On the Liturgica...

Cover via Amazon

Dear Friends and Family

When I first came here to Nottingham I had never heard of Radical Orthodoxy. John Milbank and Simon Oliver were names I only knew through Bibledex and if you had said the name Catherine Pickstock to me I’d have said, ‘To be honest, I don’t know who that is.’ Then I started meeting people, talking to my colleagues and the floodgates of Radical Orthodoxy were opened. I inundated myself, trying to learn as much as I could about this, at times quite controversial, new––well, it isn’t exactly a movement. One of the definitions that is often bandied about amongst proponents and friends of Radical Orthodoxy is, ‘If Radical Orthodoxy is anything, it is a theological sensibility.’ In essence, this sensibility seeks to do theology traditionally, that is historically, paying special attention to Thomas Aquinas and the Church Fathers, as well as Plato, Aristotle, and some of the Neo-Platonists. The areas of philosophy and theology covered, critiqued, and endorsed by the Radically Orthodox are myriad, and include: Politics, Phenomenology, Speculative Realism, Neo-Platonism, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Motion, Metaphysics, Science, Resourcement (a return to the sources, i.e. the Church Fathers), Catholic Theology, Liturgy, Analogy of Being, Nominalism, Nihilism, and more.

There are a lot things one could write about this sensibility called Radical Orthodoxy. Most of it, however, probably ought to be preserved for more scholarly avenues than this blog. Instead, I want to provide you with some excellent resources so you can check it out for yourselves. Radical Orthodoxy, whatever it is, has left me relatively smitten, but it has its fair share or nay-sayers and critics as well. Check out the links and videos below to make up your own mind as to whether this theological sensibility has merit.



CBC Interview with John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock


Theology and Social Theory by John Milbank

After Writing by Catherine Pickstock

Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology

The Radical Orthodoxy Reader

Introducing Radical Orthodoxy by James K. A. Smith

Other Links:

Centre for Theology and Philosophy

Radical Orthodoxy: Theology, Philosophy, Politics


I hope you enjoy the links.


The New Pope and Why Protestants Should Care


Dear Friends and Family,

The other day, when I posted on evolution and Christianity, I mentioned that I would be doing a post on the selection of a new pope. I also recommend reading my good friend, Peter Stevens’s post: Thoughts on the new Pope and Christian Leadership.

I am not a Roman Catholic. Neither am I Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, or a member of a high (that is liturgical) Protestant church. I am, as I’ve said before, part of tradition called the Restoration Movement. Technically we describe ourselves as neither Protestant nor Catholic, but practically we are low-church Protestants. You may wonder, then why I care at all about the papacy. Allow me, briefly, to try and describe why I think all Christians should be concerned about the papacy.

Whether we like it or not, the papacy exists. Every so often, the Roman Catholic church selects a new man to help lead them. It is his job to promote orthodoxy, to be the voice of the people of God, and to tell political leaders when what they do is not consonant with the position they hold. While we in the lower churches may not subscribe to the same understandings of leadership that Roman Catholics do, we must remember that the pope in Rome is there and that he stands for many of the same things we stand for. Pope Francis stands against abortion, against homosexuality as a practice (both things most evangelical Protestants stand against), and he stands for the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ and caring for the poor and the oppressed. How can we rail against a man who seeks to be the kingdom of God in the world?

Finally, while there are various issues that keep me from becoming Catholic, John 17 is ever in my mind, that we may be one as the Father and Son are one. If we wish to be one then we must work with one another and not against one another. Unity is a big deal to the movement to which I belong. It is one of our two core pillars. If that is the case, then we must seek union with Rome as well as with Constantinope, Canterbury, Wittenburg, Geneva, etc.

I want to leave you with four things, two videos, an article, and a Scripture:
Simon Oliver on issues surrounding there being two living popes:

Thomas O’Loughlin on the proper understanding of papal power:

An article from Simon Oliver and Sam Kimbriel: Analysis: What is the role of a modern pope?

And John 17:

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

I pray that you, as I will, will pray for Pope Francis and that his time of service may see a deeper union between all Christians. As the Western World continues to reject Christianity, we must band together under the reign of Jesus Christ.



Shifting Thesis Topics (Again)

Dear Friends and Family,

I still struggle, from time to time, with what the purpose of this blog should be and why/if I should continue writing for it.

Nevertheless, today I have something I believe worth sharing, for those who find interesting the goings on of my life. So, to get to it.

These Autumnal days are getting shorter,darker, and wetter. This morning, in fact, the world was shrouded in fog. That plus a headache led Lauren and I to stay home this morning and do some devotions and worship together. But I digress.

My work at the University of Nottingham has been ever slowly turning, turning toward a more theological focus. Finally, a few weeks ago, I realised the transition and made a change. I am no longer working on John Cassian and trying to prove he had a concept of deification. Instead, I’m now working solely on deification. I’m not sure precisely what the project will look like yet, I know it will be rather systematic (i.e. showing how deification impacts our understanding of the Incarnation, salvation, humanity, creation, etc.). This change also means I switched my supervisors and am now working with Simon Oliver (a systematician and previous student and now colleague of John Milbank) and Mary Cunningham (a historical theologian who focuses on Byzantine theology). I’m wanting to strike a balance between my historical background and theological future.

Who knows for sure where this new path will lead, but I’m more excited about my research than I have been in a long time. God has certainly blessed me with a supportive wife, as well as colleagues, friends, and supervisors in order to make this transition easy and helpful.

Well my friends, farewell for now. I will write to you again within a month or so (if not sooner).

Sincerely yours,

David Russell Mosley