Category Archives: Religion

Medieval Advice on Simplicity

The Cloud of Unknowing, an anonymous work of the fourteenth century, contains a great deal of practical insight scattered throughout its austere and esoteric counsels on mysticism. For example, while discussing questions of self-discipline, the author says You will ask … Continue reading

Posted in Religion

Religion, Politics and Mysticism

 “Just as it is possible to conceive of a religion which will satisfy man’s religious needs without being applicable to the social situation of modern Europe—as, for example, in Buddhism—so we can construct, at least in theory, a religion which … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy, Politics, Religion

A Genealogy of Morals

Continuing my reading of The Dynamics of World History, author Christopher Dawson explains that just as all pre-modern societies can be shown to have a religious basis, so every culture has also possessed a moral code. Beginning with the Enlightenment, … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy, Religion

Christopher Dawson on Religion and Civilization

“It is the religious impulse which supplies the cohesive force which unifies a society and a culture. The great civilizations of the world do not produce the great religions as a kind of cultural by-product; in a very real sense, … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy, Religion

A Mathematician’s Religion

One could say that the famous British mathematician A. N. Whitehead (1861-1947) was a true skeptic and no mere scoffing agnostic like so many of his peers. According to David J. Theroux, Whitehead argued in his book, Science and the … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Religion

A Page of Boswell

In one page of Boswell’s Life of Johnson (687 in the Oxford edition) perused at random I find two very interesting observations by Johnson during the course of a conversation with his biographer for March 16, 1776. The first deals … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Religion, Samuel Johnson

The Uncertainty of Good and Evil

“All fear is in itself painful, and when it conduces not to safety is painful without use.”—Samuel Johnson My latest meditation is based on Johnson’s Rambler essay “The folly of anticipating misfortunes” (No. 29). Few things in life are so … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Philosophy, Religion, Samuel Johnson

Epictetus for Lent

Reading the pagan Stoics during this traditional Christian penitential season might seem unusual except that Stoic writings, especially those of the Greek Epictetus, have long been admired by even the most austere orders of monks. Later Christian philosophers, like Justus … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Religion, Stoicism

A Book for All Seasons

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis is, after the Bible, perhaps the best-known work of Christian spirituality, and one that I continually return to, not only in the penitential season of Lent but all year long. It is … Continue reading

Posted in Religion

Kierkegaard on Ethical Multitasking

Studies show that the practice of “multitasking” is not only overrated but may actually be bad for us. It makes sense, then, that if it’s harmful in our practical pursuits, there are similar pitfalls in the moral life. Kierkegaard’s famed … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Religion