The Theology Pugcast is three over-educated Reformed guys grumbling about what bugs them, and sometimes even barking about what they like. The show usually is recorded in a pub--that's why there is some background noise on occasion. The topics can vary widely seeing as the Pugsters have different spheres of knowledge and interest, but common themes which appear regularly include the transcendence of God and the meaningfulness of His creation.
Today the Pugcast is joined by Nate Spearing, highly decorated combat veteran with 14 years and 12 deployments in Army Special Operations. Nathan has a broad range of experiences domestically and overseas and has spent his entire professional life walking out a theology of violence as a Christian in war.
Nate was homeschooled, and today is the father of five children. Along with his wife, they are educating their children at home.
Since leaving the military in 2016, Nathan has started several successful small businesses in real estate and construction. In the wake of the Covid crisis, Nathan launched www.Spearing.co to inspire and train people to live boldly — especially during times of crisis — through a variety of courses on business, self defense, and family resilience. https://spearing.co
This week, the Pugsters look at some of the themes in Michael Heiser’s books dealing with the worldview of the biblical authors. Glenn leads the discussion, which revolves around two big ideas: the idea of a heavenly court, with angelic beings having authority over areas such as nations; and the account of the Nephilim in Genesis. For the latter, Heiser uses 1 Enoch, a document that shaped much of the Jewish worldview at the time of the New Testament and had a direct influence on 2 Peter and Jude. 1 Enoch claims that the “sons of God” were angelic beings (“Watchers”) and that the Nephilim were thus half angelic, half human hybrids. Their disembodied spirits were the demons and evil spirits of the New Testament and were responsible for much of the evil in the world. The guys discuss these and other matters, including whether we need to adopt all elements of the worldview of the biblical authors, especially when they are using non-canonical sources.
In today’s show Chris introduces a term coined by the French intellectual, Paul Ricouer—the hermeneutic of suspicion. In the 19th century, theorists including Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud promoted the idea that rationality was nothing more than rationalization. Beneath the surface of any argument was something selfish and irrational. They believed that interpretation should begin with suspicion. One of the bitter fruits of this approach is the shift from persuasion through argument to identify politics. The Pugsters discuss what this means for the church.
Early postmodern promoters argued that the end of metanarratives like Christianity and the Enlightenment would lead to a peaceful plurality of group narratives, without the aim of any to dominate. This would lead to an end of oppressive worldviews with totalitarian aims. But mutations in postmodern thinking, those connected with Critical Theory, have taken a totalitarian turn, positing new absolutes along with a dominating aim. Tom leads the topic and Chris and Glenn contribute much to the discussion.
In an earlier episode, the Pugsters talked about Tolkien’s ideas of the value of pagan myth and the need to Christianize it. In this episode, Glenn picks up on that and applies it not to mythology but to culture, specifically, the religion of pre-Christian Ireland and what happened when it was Christianized. In pagan Ireland, the Druids were walking encyclopedias of everything related to the culture—religion, rituals, magic, law, history, music, …. When Ireland converted to Christianity, they assumed that religious leaders similarly had to learn everything there was to know about Christianity and culture. Along with tangents on the history of monasticism and martyrdom, the guys talked about a number of saints’ lives and the contributions of Irish Christianity to civilization.
In today's show, Chris introduces an important study of individualism that was published back in 1985 by Robert Bellah and a team of sociologists, entitled: Habits of the Heart--Individualism and Commitment in American Life". A best-seller at the time, the book is almost forgotten today, which is a shame since the world we live in is the world they warned us about and hoped we'd avoid. The team, through field research identified four forms individualism can take in the American tradition--two of which support healthy community life, and two which undermine it. The healthy forms of individualism were in decline in 1985, and the situation is worse today. Of course, the subject gives Tom and Glenn a lot to talk about. Join the discussion and see what sort of individual you are!
Celebratory fun highlights this Pugcast. As the gang records on St Patrick’s day, Tom thought it would be great to share in the celebrations by highlighting some fun-filled facts from Stephen Mansfield’s book In Search for God and Guinness. The book is far more than a story of the relation of Christianity and the Guinness family and beer. It also covers the long history of beer and the divine, and the way in which Christianity transformed and renewed the relation, as can be seen by the devout Guinness family and business and the beer sharing their name. Especially insightful is the way in which the Guinness family treated its employees. Glenn and Chris share in the discussion with wide-ranging facts and insights. This allows the conversation to lead where it may (one of the great aspects of the Pugcast), ending with Glenn sharing some rich insights on St. Patrick, Christianity in Ireland, and the Celtic Circle Cross.
Working off the introduction to Bradley Birzer’s J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth, the Pugsters talk about Tolkien, Lewis, and Chesterton and their ideas about myth and faerie. Tolkien believed that just like pagan philosophers grasped truths that were most perfectly expressed in the Gospel, the stories of myth and faerie were bits of “splintered light” that pointed beyond themselves to deeper reality. For Tolkien, pagan myths presented an almost sacramental vision of the world, though the myths need to be “sanctified” by Christian truth to avoid the dangers of paganism. The guys bring their own unique perspectives to these and related themes about the value of myth to us today.
Today the guys discuss the vexed topic of esoteric teaching and interpretation. Esoteric teaching is teaching intended to sort people into two groups--those who understand and those who do not. Why would anyone want to do that? Isn't that elitist? Isn't it undemocratic? Well, yes, it is those things--and Jesus undeniably spoke esoterically when he told parables--he said so in Matthew 13:10-17. The problem of esoteric teaching leads to a free-ranging conversation in which the guys get into what bugs them about contemporary approaches to interpretation as well as the subject of metaphysics (surprise, surprise).
In this show, Tom addresses a listeners question with reflections from past shows as well as recent insights. Tom looks at various realities, forces, and trends that have led culture to the present moment of sweeping madness. Chris and Glenn penetrate the topic with perspicacity and wisdom. René Girard shows up in the conversation, adding a fascinating gloss to the topic.
Glenn introduces concepts from medieval epistemology (i.e. the branch of philosophy dealing with knowledge and truth) and how these got challenged in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, particularly through the recovery of the ideas of the ancient Greek skeptic Pyrrho. After a foray into Descartes, who tried to answer Pyrrho, we look at Blaise Pascal, the father of probability theory. Pascal used a barometer to short-circuit Pyrrho’s approach and in the process laid the foundation for a new approach to knowledge based on probability. This new epistemology has shaped thinking in the West ever since and largely created the modern world.
Little by little, the notes and reflections of J. R. R. Tolkien have been published posthumously by his son, Christopher. Among the many volumes is the Tenth Volume in The History of Middle-Earth, entitled Morgoth's Ring. The book contains many of Tolkien's reflections on the nature of evil, mortality, and the eschatology of Middle-Earth. Among the gems is the publication of the conversation between Finrod (an Elf-Lord, the Eldar) and Andreth (a wise-woman from among the Edain--aka men). The Pugsters enjoy a free-range conversation that not only touches on the nature of evil in Middle-Earth, but also reaches our own--primary--world.
This week the Pugsters are joined by Jonathan Edwards scholar Dr. Christian Cuthbert to discuss his research at Yale on the preaching of Jonathan Edwards on the subject of warfare. In the 18th century the Connecticut River Valley was on the frontier. It wasn't unusual for Native American warrior bands to attack colonial villages--add to this the rival claims of the French and English powers in the New World and war wasn't merely a matter of debate regarding the justness of a conflict half-way around the world--it was a matter of survival, and the conflict could be 20 miles away--or right next store. The discussion is illuminating--and in some ways surprising. This is new ground in Edwards studies and Dr. Cuthbert is right at the forefront of it.
Tom introduces two contrasting cultures by talking about the Gospel and its role in shaping a culture of life. He then draws off of Benjamin Wiker's book 'Architects of the Culture of Death'. The leads into one of the core figures discussed in the book, the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer and his contribution to nihilism and pessimism. Chris and Glenn add substantive insights and reflections throughout the discussion.
Glenn, our intrepid historian, takes us back to the twelfth century to show how a new worldview developed that shaped how we study the natural world (i.e. what we call “science” but they called “natural philosophy” or “natural theology”) and changed the aesthetics of the era, leading both to early empiricism and to realism in art. Chris and Tom move the conversation into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the undoing of the medieval ideas Glenn had explained. The nineteenth century saw the rise of modern science that changed how we think about both the material world and knowledge, which resulted not only in materialistic worldviews that denied meaning in the world but also led to a deconstruction of art and a rejection of beauty.
When the legacy of Charles Darwin is considered discussion generally focuses on the his account of human origins and whether or not evolution is a "blind watchmaker". But Darwin's influence has bled over into ethics, politics, philosophy, and other facets of human culture. Today the Pugsters discuss his broader legacy and how that influence can be resisted.
As an added bonus, Chris recommends Thomas Hooker Brewing Company! https://hookerbeer.com/
In today’s show the Pugsters explore Christianity’s relationship with Classical Culture and Tom explains the impact of von Harnack’s incorrect thesis, which placed the two in opposition. The guys then explore contemporary examples of the problematic application of von Harnack in theology and the Christian life.
Glenn introduces us to the medieval distinction between the Via Positiva, an approach to thinking about God that emphasizes the things we can affirm about God, and the Via Negativa, an approach that focuses on the limitations of finite creatures to understand the infinite Creator. In general, Western Christianity has put more emphasis on the Via Positiva, also known as Kataphatic theology, while Eastern Orthodox Christianity has emphasized the Via Negativa, or Apophatic theology. Chris points out that the Via Negativa is necessary to prevent us from falling into idolatry by thinking we’ve got God all worked out. Tom brings in the transcendence of God, leading into a discussion of God’s holiness and what that means. The guys also discuss different approaches to spirituality based on a grid with Apophatic and Kataphatic on the horizontal axis, and Mind and Heart on the vertical.
While many apologists for the Christian faith have focused on defending the intellectual integrity of Christianity's factual claims, for example historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, over the last 100 years opponents of the faith have criticized the moral legacy of the faith. One of the most potent has been that Christianity has contributed to the degradation of the ecosystem. Perhaps the most significant article published in the last 50 years or so has been Lynn White, Jr.'s The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis from the March 10, 1967 edition of the journal, Science. Today the Pugsters respond to White's article and, hopefully refute his charges, and set the record straight.
Here's a link to the article: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/155/3767/1203
Tom engages the timely topic of Christian Joy in the light of Christmas. Beginning with the Good News of great joy announced to the shepherds from the heavenly hosts, Tom turns to discuss the Christian notion of Joy. What is it? What is its significant to life and flourishing? What is its place in Christian existence? Chris and Glenn bring fascinating reflections into the discussion. C. S. Lewis shows up in the conversation with his rich and penetrating contemplations on the topic. Overall, it’s a great addition to the Christmas celebration of the gift of joy we’ve been given in Christ.
In this episode, Glenn walks us through a work by the early church father Athanasius about the reasons for the Incarnation. The introduction to the book by C. S. Lewis explains that we need to read old books to get around the blind spots of our own era, and Athanasius certainly helps reframe how we think about the incarnation. Tom points out that he starts with Creation, which is the foundation for the rest of his argument. He goes from there to the Fall and what that meant for Creation, and the Incarnation as the only way to restore Creation. Athanasius’s focus is primarily on God and his purposes. He doesn’t ignore our need and God’s love for us, but he takes a much bigger perspective beyond personal salvation. He also talks about why Christ had to die by crucifixion, the impact of the resurrection on the world, and a host of other topics. As usual each Pugcaster brought in his own angle on the issues Athanasius raised. Since we could do little more than give an introduction to the piece and hit a few of the places where it gives us a different perspective on the Incarnation than we usually see, we encourage you to read it for yourself.
It’s available as a downloadable PDF with Lewis’s introduction here: http://www.onthewing.org/user/Athanasius%20-%20On%20the%20Incarnation.pdf
Can the things we make get too big, conversely, can they be too small? If so, what standard should we use to judge the size of things? The ancients answered these questions by using human limitations. It’s easy to see how this works in architecture, but it equally applies to other things: nations, cities, and even local churches. Today on the Pugcast the guys consider Aristotle’s thoughts on the subject, and Chris introduces a modern theorist—Leopold Kohr, and his book, The Breakdown of Nations.
The roots of festivity in the gifts of creation and new creation. Tom introduces the topic of festivity by drawing insights from Joseph Pieper’s work, exploring the true nature of and purposes of festivity in the Christian vision of things. As we enter the festive season of Thanksgiving and Advent, this topic is timely. As usual, the gang (Chris and Glenn) add to this topic, providing layers of fascinating insight into the nature of Creation, Sabbath, Worship, Joy and Celebration.
This episode begins with a brief follow up on last week’s episode on the Great Reset, focused on how we should respond and where our hope lies. From there, Glenn segues into a discussion of some elements of Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories” and its connection to Doug Wilson’s summary of the Bible, “Kill the Dragon, Get the Girl.” Chris brings in the idea of archetypical stories, some of which at least are reflections or shadows of the Great Story, the story of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Tom then points out the theological implications of some of the topics from the discussion, and Glenn connects it into a sacramental vision of life and the connection between our lives, fairy stories, and the Great Story.
A proposal has been circulated among global elites and it goes by the name, ‘The Great Reset’. The values undergirding it are the standard cant—‘inclusion’, ‘fairness’, ‘equality’. It also includes promises of debt forgiveness and universal basic income. Alarmingly, the people behind it are some of the wealthiest and influential in the world. And wouldn’t you know it, their plan just so happens to include the abolition of property and the investiture of power in a global authority of some kind. Today on the Pug the guys grumble and bark back in defense of property rights as the most basic of human rights
This week Tom introduces the topic about our intellectual appetites in relation to classical Christian insight. He looks into the virtue of proper studiousness as part of our intellectual vocation and its sinful distortion by the vice of curiosity. Glenn and Chris bring in plenty of additional insight and reflective comments to move the topic along.
In today's show Chris presents a book review published in First Things. The title of the review is "Postconstitutional America" and the book being reviewed is "The Stakes: America at the Point of No Return" by Michael Anton. The review can serve as an introduction to Leo Stauss and his followers, particularly the west coast Straussians of the Claremont Institute. These thinkers contend that America is experiencing a crisis of two constitutions--the original constitution of 1787 and what has been overlaid on it--the unwritten progressive constitution of expertise. These two constitutions emerge from two different philosophies and understandings of history and the nature of freedom and rights. If you've listened to the show before, you know that the Pugsters had plenty to grumble about--especially about the rise of the cult of expertise.
As Christians dwell in societies given over to nihilism, and as they encounter nihilism’s dreadful impact on institutions that once propped classical intellectual, spiritual, and moral virtues, they are left with limited options in preserving and protecting those virtues which sustain creaturely flourishing and aim towards their fulfillment in God. Tom, Glenn, and Chris consider ‘The Boniface Option’, a designation which Chris and Glenn bring out in relation to our friends in Idaho.
The Pugcast is pleased to welcome to the show another one of Chris's dangerous friends--John Zmirak, Senior editor of The Stream. Chris describes John as "Don Rickles meets Pope Benedict"--when you listen, you'll see why. John is a frequent contributor to the Eric Metaxas Show, and was the editor Chris's book, Man of the House. Join the gang for an at times hilarious and rambling discussion--and learn, among other things, John's nickname for David French!
Article Referenced: https://stream.org/secondamendment/
John's Bio: https://stream.org/author/johnzmirak/
John on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/John-Zmirak/e/B001JS5XJU?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1602456384&sr=8-1
In today's show the Pug is proud to welcome Professor Rachel Fulton Brown! Rachel is a professor of medieval history at the University of Chicago and has begun a new video series entitled The Forge of Tolkien in which she examines Tolkien's creative process and sources of inspiration. She's also a friend of Milo Yiannopolous and has written a book about their friendship. Chris met both Rachel and Milo a couple of years ago when Rachel and Chris both spoke at the annual Touchstone conference in Chicago. The show is the typical Pugcast--it rambles all over the place, investigating all sorts of fascinating terrain. Join us! And here are some links for Rachel's work:
Fencing Bear at Prayer (blog): https://fencingbearatprayer.blogspot.com/
The Forge of Tolkien (episode guide, with instructions on how to subscribe): https://fencingbearatprayer.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-forge-of-tolkien.html
The Poetry Project: https://fencingbearatprayer.blogspot.com/2020/06/up-drakes-its-time-for-teaand-prosody.html
Milo Chronicles: Devotions 2016-2019 (Castalia House, 2019): https://shop.aer.io/castalia/p/Milo_Chronicles_Devotions_2016__2019/9789527303573-1875
Academic homepage: http://home.uchicago.edu/~rfulton/index.html
Glenn starts this episode with an overview of the medieval understanding of the liberal arts, then focuses in on music. Music was part of the quadrivium, the mathematical arts that described objective reality. Why is that? Why is music so significant for medieval thinkers? How does music relate to the human body or to the proper functioning of the universe? Glenn explores these questions, aided and abetted by Tom and Chris. We also get into more modern ideas about music, including its role in Christian thought and practice.
"Life is short, but art is long"--so the saying goes. And anyone who has undertaken any significant task would probably say, "Amen". But when it comes to works of art there can be a sense of loneliness and futility that is singular. That was the case for J R R Tolkien. He had labored for decades on his great work--his legendarium of Middle-earth. It included histories, and languages, and mythical heroes. It was the world that The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were situated in. It's all been published now, most of it posthumously. But when Tolkien wrote Leaf by Niggle the only thing he had to show for all of his work was The Hobbit. So Tolkien wrote a little allegorical short story of great profundity--Leaf by Niggle. And in it he proffers a consoling thought--our works will follow us. Join the Pugcast guys as they attempt to plumb the depths of Leaf by Niggle.
Tom engages the theme of how technology is increasingly being used in ever advancing ways to promote propaganda and cultivate people without many being aware of it. He reflects on how theologian Karl Barth was able to resist similar forces during the rise of National Socialism because of his deep immersion in Scripture, Reformed tradition, and Classical Christian teaching. Chris and Glenn join the conversation with fascinating insights and details related to the topic at hand.
Please excuse some of the bumps and rumbles as we get used to using our new mics!
In today’s show Glenn describes the way that Geneva served as a city of refuge for Protestants during the Reformation. Not only did Geneva serve as a refuge, it became a training center, and a center of influence for Protestantism throughout Europe. With the growing hostility to the faith around the world, the guys wonder aloud if something similar might emerge today. Do we have a city of refuge?
In today's show Chris introduces listeners to his favorite magazine, and to one its Senior Editors, S. M. Hutchens (Steve to his friends). The magazine is a unique project which includes contributions from Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox writers. Chris has written for the journal a few times and has spoken at one of their conferences.
Tom and Glenn join in and the foursome not only discuss what makes Touchstone unique, but also why orthodox Christians (which is to say, in part, socially conservative ones) will find themselves banding together more and more as the larger culture of the West grows ever more hostile to the Christian faith.
If you would like to learn more about Touchstone, or subscribe, follow this link: https://touchstonemag.com/
Tom reconnects with Thomas Hibb's book Shows About Nothing to engage topics like the Romantic alternative to Nihilism, Horror films and their critique of American Modernism, and other films- which show how the Enlightenment was too weak a framework to carry the Christian virtue system. Chris and Glenn bring fascinating reflections into the conversation, making for an illuminating conversation about the formative impact of film on contemporary life and places in which the Christian vision can speak with redemptive profundity.
Glenn reflects on the idea that the Creation is sacramental, that is, that it points beyond itself to spiritual realities. He takes his cue from passages in Scripture that point to the Creation as pictures of truths about God and humanity. As always, Chris and Tom chime in with their own insights on nature, philosophy, and theology.
In today's show Chris reads from an essay by Colin Wright the Managing Editor of Quillette, the online journal and podcast. He describes his own experience as a liberal scientist with cancel culture. The experience has alarmed him and he despairs for the future of the sciences. Chris, Tom, and Glenn then reflect on the history of science and how materialists have unwittingly set themselves up for this. They then urge the recovery of transcendent sources of meaning and authority because without them science is doomed.
In this episode, Glenn contrasts the secular, Enlightenment-inspired French Revolution with the spiritual revolution that transformed England at roughly the same time. The French Enlightenment was an anti-Christian project that provided a radical critique of society and theorized about how to fix it. Once the French internalized Enlightenment ideas, the Revolution became inevitable, though it took a government debt crisis to trigger it. The elite’s theories didn’t solve the problem, resulting in chaos and the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of French citizens. In contrast, the spiritual revolution in England from the Evangelical Revivals reached deep into the lower classes and prevented England from degenerating into the violence of the French Revolution. It also led to Wilberforce and the Clapham sect and the spiritual and moral transformation of English society. Chris and Tom chime in about the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment and the parallels with America today.
In today’s show Chris introduces the Pugcast crew to Matthew B. Crawford and his book, Why We Drive. Crawford is known for his writing on moral agency and how the manual arts help to develop it. Self-driving cars have the potential for undermining competence and promoting greater dependency on distant institutions. If passivity is already a problem, self-driving cars will only make things worse.
Glenn starts off the discussion with “On Weeds and Fairy Tales,” an article in Touchstone by Vigen Guroian. Guroian argues that reason and imagination work together to help us make sense of the world, but only imagination lets us get beyond facts into the realm of meaning and helping us develop a moral sense. This was one of the functions of fairy tales traditionally. But Guroian notes a number of weeds that can choke out the moral imagination which he labels the Idyllic Imagination, the Idolatrous Imagination, and the Diabolic Imagination. As usual, Tom and Chris join in the exploration of all these ideas and more.
In today's show Chris reads portions of Leon R. Kass's, The Beginning of Wisdom. The book contains Kass's reflections on the book of Genesis. Kass is Jewish, and a conservative scholar teaching at the University of Chicago. His reflections on the impiety of Noah's son Ham, and how Ham's descendant Nimrod, the political leader behind the Bible's first political dystopia--Babel--are quite profound. His thoughts on the connection between impiety and totalitarianism provide the basis for discussion for Chris, Tom, and Glenn.
This week Tom follows up his topic last week on Presentism. He introduces the topic of 'historicism' and looks at its role in setting the conditions for the current trend of turning against the past in the name of the present. Historicism comes about when the doctrine of providence gets ripped from the doctrine of creation, making human meaning and purpose merely what it is in terms of historical processes. Glenn and Chris add a plenitude of insights as the topic unfolds.
In this episode Tom introduces the topic of the intellectual fashion of making ‘present’ experience that which has utmost significance. He further shows how this idea has been wedded to the notion that the past has little significance other than being an outmoded relic of evil and oppression. This has contributed to current strands of moral zealotry unleashed against symbols and monuments from the past as well as an all out war on civilization. Chris and Glenn add further insights which shed light on this fashion from a variety of angles, making for a fascinating conversation on the topic.
Glenn starts off by talking about Tolkien and philology, the study of language to understand culture, and looks at its role in creating Middle Earth. He then notes that this idea has largely been reversed in the modern world, where we belief language shapes thought and culture. This leads to Political Correctness and the use of language as a form of thought control. Tom and Chris discuss theological and philosophical ideas surrounding this change and some of the practical effects of it in culture today.
In today’s episode Chris raises the subject of friendship for consideration. What is it? How many forms of friendship are there? What’s the relationship of friendship to citizenship? Can we have too many friends? What’s a bigger threat to friendship, good fortune or bad? These, and many other considerations are discussed while drawing on classical, medieval, and biblical sources.
Tom introduces the theme of ‘the Psychological Captivity of the Church’, setting the topic in relation to Evangelical Christian practice. Chris and Glenn chime in with a host of supportive details that highlight aspects of how the Church has gotten to this place and describing ways in which current teachings and practices have been impacted by this captivity. The group then offer insights from classic Christianity which demonstrate how far many evangelicals have strayed from the historic Christian vision.
What is Chivalry and why is it important? Glenn starts out with a history of the concept and its key elements. The group then reflects on the loss and even inversion of those elements within our culture before moving into a discussion of folk artist Howard Finster.
The Necessity of Chivalry by C.S. Lewis: www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBT9LasyC3E&t=3s&fbclid=IwAR1xQgB0t5Kl3deTB_-knygHrP6-4LVx_Qmb6_SW_pDfdycZc830BYdS3n4
Who is the mysterious River-daughter, and how did Tom Bombadil make such a catch? Chris once thought that Goldberry was an afterthought in the story of Tom Bombadil, but after writing a chapter on her for his book on Bombadil, he’s pretty sure that she’s at the heart of his story in more ways than one. Join the conversation as Chris, Glenn, and Tom delve into philosophy of language, metaphysics, and the value of pagan stories.
This week the Pugsters interview Brian Patrick Mitchell, Eastern Orthodox theologian, and friend of C. R. Wiley. Dr. Mitchell discusses the role of a peculiar strand of Platonism championed by Origen and later by Maximus the Confessor, and how it contradicted the Hebraic understanding of Male and Female within the Alexandrian school of Christianity. Dr. Mitchell believes that this particularly pernicious strand of Platonism is back, and is growing more influential in all branches of the Church.
Moira Greyland Peat is the author of THE LAST CLOSET, a story of survival. She was the only daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley and convicted child molester Walter Breen.
Her mother was a bestselling science fiction author, a feminist icon, and the winner of the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement. She was best known for the Arthurian fiction novel THE MISTS OF AVALON and for her very popular Darkover series. She was also a monster.
In this episode of the Pugcast the crew talk freely with Moira about growing up in the home of famous, high-minded, liberal, child abusers. She shares her memories of pagan rituals, the pressure she felt to become a lesbian, and horrors of child-molestation. She also shares how she came to Christ and the difference that he made in her life.
Moira has three grown sons, and she is an accomplished opera vocalist and harpist.
Find Moira's book here: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Closet-Moira-Greyland/dp/9527065208/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1588445563&sr=1-1
In today's show, Glenn raises the subject of neopagan and heathen movements in the western world. Just what is going on with these movements, are they genuine revivals, or are they merely role-playing diversions? And what does any of this have to do with the alt-right, and Norse-myths in particular? Tune in for a lively discussion as usual!
Today the Pug is joined by Dr. Matthew T. Dickerson, professor at Middlebury College, in Vermont, and author of many books, among them: Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J. R. R. Tolkien. The conversation did get around to Ents (a fascinating part of the discussion), and it even included the environment, but it also wandered into many other matters--some far afield. (Surprise, surprise.) If you like the Inklings, you'll enjoy this episode.
In today's show Tom talks about how God's saving presence enters into the full range of our creaturely reality (finite, limited, fallen, with even death) and creates life and hope, not by denying or escaping reality, but by transcending it, in a way only the Christian God is able to.
As usual Glenn and Chris chime in from time to time.
If you'd like to see the Pugsters, a Zoom edition of the show has been posted to the Facebook Pugcast fanpage!
In today's show the Pugsters are in lock-down, like the rest of the world. But because of the wonders of modern technology that's not held them back from recording a show! They've dialed in remotely from various undisclosed locations in North America to discuss the history of Christian witness during times of plague.
Glenn leads the discussion, making sure that Tom and Chris keep the historical facts in mind during the discussion. They discuss the Christian origin of hospitals, the advances in medicine that we now enjoy, the martyrdom of early Christians who ministered to the dying, and they even reflect on the good uses of technology that we ought to be grateful for.
As an added bonus we actually have video available of the three mugs of the pugs. That video will be posted to the Theology Pugcast Facebook page.
Today Chris introduces the subject of "Adiaphora"--a term which means "things indifferent". He notes that it is a fine term, so long as you use it correctly. He addresses its use by the Cynics, and then Glenn discusses briefly how it was used by some of the Reformers in a very narrow sense.
The trouble with it according to the gang is it has become a catchall for anyone who wants to shut down discussion on the meaning of certain things--reducing them to matters of taste. It is a favorite category for the Utilitarians in the church who wish to dismiss the promotion of Beauty entirely, and even narrow the application of Truth and Goodness to a very small set of concerns.
If, as Abraham Kuyper said, ‘There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!’--then how can we say something is indifferent? Everything matters to the Christian because everything belongs to Christ.
Feeling the need for some magic in your life now that you're stuck at home because of COVID-19? Well, we've got the show for you!
Today Glenn (aka "The Magic Man") provides a little history lesson on magic. One of the things that you'll learn is that magic as it was practiced in the antiquity--and the Renaissance (yes, the Renaissance)--wasn't as irrational as is often supposed. There were reasons it was believed to work. Understanding those reasons won't make you a practitioner of magic--but it will help you see that our ancestors could be wrong about certain things without being unintelligent. By the way, the same is true for other things in our time.
In today's show Tom introduces the doctrine of "divine simplicity". The doctrine itself is simple enough, understanding its implications for theology and the work of the Church and salvation takes a bit of work.
Contemporary theologies have turned away from this classical doctrine and it is beginning to show--everything is devolving down to imminent-frame. Relevance, pragmatism, church-growth guruism--you name it--all in a breathless race to keep up with God the moving target. Whatever became of the God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever?
This show is a call back to the God in whom we live and move and have our being.
You've probably heard of "Intersectionality". How could you miss it? It is the new magical formula for social justice that promises to make the world a better place.
The Pugcast crew are doubtful. In fact, they're more than doubtful, they don't like it at all. Today on the show they discuss its premise and the deleterious consequences for those institutions that try to enforce it.
Drawing inspiration from the Coronavirus, Glenn decided to talk about one of his favorite subjects: The Black Death.
He even brought some things for show and tell. There's a map that looks remarkably like Tolkien's map of Middle Earth, but the one Glenn brought is covered with arrows and dates which tell the tale of the spread of Plague throughout Europe. He also brought a cute little plush-toy of the deadly germ. If you'd like to see those just visit the Theology Pugcast Facebook page. And while you're there, like the page so that you can stay in touch!
The Pug-crew continue their conversation with Ken Boa. In today's show the discussion surrounds the theme of Ken's book, Life in the Presence of God.
Talking to Ken is like trying to take a sip from a fire hydrant--you may need to listen to the interview a couple of times to get the gist of what Ken is getting at--but it will be worth the effort. We hope you enjoy the conversation!
Here's a link to Ken's book.
The Pugsters are pleased to be joined by Ken Boa for today's show.
Ken is the author of many books, and his most recent book is published by IVP. He's also a long-time friend of Glenn. Ken was in town for Glenn's ordination service at First Church of Christ Wethersfield, (a historic congregational church that was once attended by Jonathan Edwards). Ken also earned one of his doctorates at Oxford University--which gives him something to talk about with Tom. (Not that they needed any help talking.)
The conversation with Ken took place with a "live audience" and while it centered on the theme of Ken's new book, it was a free ranging one.
Here's a link to First Church in Wethersfield (https://www.firstchurch.org/) and here's a link to Ken's latest book at Amazon: Shaped by Suffering Finally, here is a link to Ken's webpage. kenboa.org
In today's show Glenn takes the Pugcast gang into the folklore and reported sightings of vampires in New England! As Glenn shows, you don't need to visit Transylvania for vampire legends--we have plenty of material to work with in the good ol' USA.
Tom and Chris reflect on the vampire stories from both theological and pastoral perspectives. Glenn informs them that he also has werewolf and witch sightings to share in future episodes of the Pugcast!
In today's show Chris introduces Glenn and Tom to the work of sociologist and paleo-conservative Robert Nisbet.
Nisbet was a sociologist and professor at Columbia, and his work reflects a time when sociologists were liberally educated and could draw on the thinking of the likes of Alexis de Tocqueville and Edmund Burke as well as classical philosophy and theology. Nisbet's best known work, The Quest for Community had a strong influence on Chris's thinking. It is particularly evident in Chris's book, Man of the House.
During the course of the conversation the Pugsters discuss the various schools of thought that are often thrown together under the label "conservatism": libertarianism, classical liberalism, and paleo-conservatism. Seeing as most listeners are unfamiliar with the last of these labels, and that it is also the school of thought Chris, Tom, and Glenn most strongly identify with, they spend some time defining each while explaining why paleo-conservatism is actually genuine conservatism.
Here are some helpful links for further study: https://www.amazon.com/Quest-Community-Background-Essential-Conservative/dp/1935191500 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleoconservatism
In today's show the guys join in the lament for the passing of conservative philosopher Sir Roger Scruton.
Tom selects a few passages on the nature of beauty from the voluminous body of work that Scruton left with us and the guys spend time reflecting not only on them, but also upon the sorry state of the world we find ourselves in. It's clear that the world needs a phalanx of Scrutons to replace him.
Glenn is back! And today he brings us the topic of the day--Tolkien and literary realism.
Literary realism is one of those question begging movements which advance an argument by assuming the correctness of a particular answer to an unspoken question. Literary realism assumes that the level of the mundane, the prosaic, is what is truly Real, and everything else is just fancy which exists solely in our heads.
If that's your understanding of Reality then you are a modern person--and you're also a rather flat and wooden person too. You probably don't get Tolkien, or you think he's just a teller of adventure stories.
But is that what's truly Real? If Reality is something more--what is it, and how can Tolkien help us see it? Those are the questions addressed in today's show.
Glenn is still on the road, so Tom and Chris invited their friend Tom Plotkin to talk with them about cinema, or film, or the movies--or whatever you want to call the art form.
Tom is a former screen-writer and he worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as other Hollywood productions. Today Tom is a lawyer and a novelist living and working in Hartford, Connecticut.
Join a freewheeling conversation that takes us into Tom's childhood in Manhattan as a child a Jewish atheists to his conversion to Christianity through a remarkable supernatural event in his life. Along the way you'll learn a lot about the rarified world of "art-films"--we know that we did. Enjoy!
Tom, Glenn, and Chris have the week off this week--but never fear, the Pugcast hasn't let you down!
The Pugsters actually have a show that was recorded months ago and had been believed to be lost. But it's been found! The guys can't remember what was about though.
The one thing that they do remember is it was Tom's day for the topic of the day. So, listen in a long with three Pugsters who suffer from memory loss! Enjoy!
Today's show comes to you from deep in the Pugcast bunker. This episode is about the illiberal hostility of liberals directed towards conservatives in higher education.
Glenn is away with family for Christmas, so Tom and Chris invited Racer X to join them. (He's named Racer X because of Chris's nostalgia for Speed Racer--a cartoon he watched as a kid in the early 70s.)
Racer X is a conservative and a graduate student currently studying in at an undisclosed secular university. Tom, Chris, and Racer X discuss their experiences as conservatives in academe, and all three agree that things are worse today than when Tom and Chris were in graduate school.
BTW, Racer X's voice is distorted for the show. (Yes, things are so bad that we resorted to witness protection techniques to disguise X's identity.)
Today Glenn rises to defend a holiday that some pagans and certain Christians love to hate: Christmas.
Who could hate Christmas? It is puzzling. There are the folks who claim that there is no justification for December 25th--or January 6th for that matter--so it must have been some sort of appropriation of a pagan holiday. Then there are the folks who just don't think any Christian holidays can be justified, period.
Glenn challenges these conceits and more. You can depend on Tom and Chris to egg him on.
In today's show Tom, Glenn, and Chris are joined by Aaron Renn, former (but perhaps not), publisher of the newsletter for men with over 5,000 subscribers, The Masculinist.
The guys met in New Haven, Connecticut, right down the street from Yale, at Modern Apizza--one of the top rated pizzarias in America. The conversation was free-flowing and somewhat rambling, but there are a number of gems for you to take away.
Durning the conversation a waitress spills some beer on Chris's laptop, but never fear!--the top was closed and the machine escaped unharmed. (But you'll hear the cry of dismay from the waitress.)
Sound is much better than in recent episodes. The Pugsters hope you enjoy the show!
Today Chris introduces Tom and Glenn to the Shakers--America's favorite utopian sect. If you know anything about them you probably associate them with furniture, oval nesting boxes, and the song Simple Gifts.
At their height during the Second Great Awakening there were 6,000 of them living in nearly 20 communities scattered from Maine to Kentucky. Today they are the darlings of liberalism because they renounced the household-economy, private property, and even marriage.
Naturally, this meant that they also renounced procreation. They believe heaven had come to earth with the second advent of Christ--this time as a woman--in the person of their founder Mother Ann. They believed that God had male and female natures and that the Fall of Adam and Eve in Eden had something to do with sex. Weird stuff, Gnostic too.
You can learn more about them in the many museums that now preserve their artifacts. If you want to speak with real Shakers, you better hurry, there are only 2 left and they're elderly.
In some ways the themes that characterized Shakerism are still with us, and some of them even seem to be growing more popular among the young in evangelicalism.
The show was recorded at Elicit Brewing, a new brewpub in Manchester, CT that the guys have wanted to try out. They found a quiet corner and everything was going swimmingly until about 3/4 of the way through when someone at the pub decided it would be a good idea to blast the music. The guys are sorry for yet another noisy show--they won't go back there again.
In today's show Glenn proposes a controversial thesis: Machiavelli's The Prince wasn't promoting amoral political opportunism--in it Machiavelli was actually....
Well, it wouldn't be right to include a spoiler in the show notes, would it? Why not listen and find out what Glenn thinks for yourself?
Once again, there is a noisy pub to deal with, but we hope the show will provide enough tasty food for thought that you can look past that.
In today's show Tom begins an exploration of the ideology of environmentalism and the ways that the monism underlying it is infiltrating churches and theologies that wish to be seen as "relevant".
Glenn and Chris push the discussion into the works of Tolkien as a faithful alternative for those who wish to cherish the created order as a gift in contrast to popular environmental ideologies.
The show is a bit noisy and a little choppy because it was recorded in the main part of the pub (we were exiled from the backroom by paying customers!), and Chris received a call that he couldn't ignore late in the show.
In today's show Chris and the guys put "niceness" into the Aristotle Virtue Analyzer to see if it makes the grade. They determined that it depends on the political economy you find yourself in. If it is a consumerist global fantasy-land--well, it's a virtue.
But is that a place that human beings really want to live--it means no history, no transcendence, and no depth. It's all here and now and on the surface.
But can such an inhuman and false community even last? Perhaps "niceness" still means what it meant in 12th century, "Stupid". https://www.etymonline.com/word/nice
Today's show features new music by Chris's oldest son, Caleb!
In today's show Glenn explains how some evangelicals have managed to climb onto the critical theory bandwagon.
He begins with a quick overview of the modernist-fundamentalist controversy of the late 19th and early 20th century, he then shows how this created a void that critical theory has recently filled.
Tom and Chris along with Glenn point out the Marxist roots of critical theory, underscoring its materialism and its agonism--i.e. "progress through violence". (That's why there's no reasoning with critical theory--words, even reason itself--are merely other means for getting your way.)
Can "progressive evangelicals" find their way out of this morass? The Lord knows and time will tell--but the Pugcasters are not hopeful.
In today's show the Pugsters interview Dr. Benjamin Merkle, President of New Saint Andrews College.
The show was recorded before an enthusiastic audience and at a different venue than the venerable Corner Pug. In this show the Pugcast invades the renowned Willimantic Brewing Company--one of the best brewpubs in Connecticut.
Dr. Merkle provides great insight into the philosophy and methods of classical learning, and Tom and Ben even get to reminisce about their days at Oxford. It was a lot of fun. We hope that you enjoy it.
Jokes about the uselessness of a liberal arts education are cliche--they also evidence the absence of a liberal arts education.
The whole point of a liberal arts education is the study of things that are good in themselves, not good as a means to enjoying something else. Arts of that sort are servile--they serve a higher good.
Today Chris introduces listeners to the book, Leisure: The Basis of Culture by the late German philosopher Joseph Pieper.
Of course Tom and Glenn have a lot to add. The conversation gets into the parallel between Sabbath observance and leisure, social class and freedom, and many other matters.
Here's a link to the book on Amazon.
Today we welcome to the show a friend of Glenn Sunshine: Francis Jabba, Disciple Making Coordinator for New Harvest Global Ministries in 16 African countries.
Reports of the spectacular growth of Christianity in Africa are well known. What is less known is how it is happening. Glenn has visited Africa and has reported on the growth of the church in the book he co-wrote with Jerry Trousdale, The Kingdom Unleashed. In today's show the Pugcasters interview one of the leaders of this phenomenal movement. There were many remarkable things that they learned in the course of the interview--an important one being how Islam is growing in Africa through a combination of biological growth, conversion through marriage, business dealings with strings attached, and the building of mosques.
The show is a bit of a departure from the standard Pugcast fare--but that shouldn't surprise our listeners, the range of conversation on the show is pretty broad.
Here is a link to Glenn's book on Amazon.
If you would like to donate to this important work in West Africa here is the contact information: New Harvest Global Ministries, P.O. Box 681691, Franklin TN. 37068. New Harvest's website is www.newharvestglobal.org
If you want to give a donation for Francis’s building, put “Francis Jabba building fund” in the Memo.
In today's episode Tom asks the rhetorical question, "Who sets the agenda for the Christian faith?"
Winsome market-oriented church growth types demonstrate through their methods that they believe people should do that. But maybe people don't actually know what is in their best interests. Tom traces out how autonomy and "authenticity" have come to shape much of evangelicalism in our time. Chris notes that this is what underlies the call to be "relevant". Tom labels this "Humanistic Evangelicalism".
But isn't this a case of tail wags dog?
By contrast Tom describes something he calls "Evangelical Humanism" and he says this is what constitutes a good Christian anthropology.
Perhaps the most controversial character in all of Tolkien's writing is Tom Bombadil. People seem to either love him or hate him. But regardless how you feel about him, most people can't figure out why he's even in the Lord of the Rings. What's the point of the man in the blue jacket and the yellow boots? Certainly Peter Jackson thought he was expendable. He isn't even in the film version of the story. Was he inserted to make Tolkien's children happy? Was Tolkien providing a little filler to buy time because he was still working out the plot? Chris thinks that Tolkien was up to far more than people give him credit for when it comes to Bombadil. Chris actually thinks that you don't really understand Tolkien, or the Lord of the Rings, until you receive Bombadil into your heart. Listen in as Chris, Tom, and Glenn discuss the meaning of the mysterious Tom Bombadil!
Glenn introduces consumer-choice as a kind of worldview in today's show.
Consumer choice is a fine thing when it comes to fast-food and designer clothing, but where does it end? Should we get to choose everything? Is consumer choice the apogee of freedom, or in some paradoxical way its denial and a form of slavery?
Glenn dares to say that people shouldn't get to chose certain things--their family members for instance, or their religion. When it comes to the most important things we are choosers, we're receivers. And that entails an entirely different logic.
In today's show, Tom outlines the coup against theology in academe.
Believe it or not, once upon a time theology ran the show. We can still see that in the pomp and circumstance at many college graduations--the theology faculty lead the way, followed by philosophy, then the other disciplines. Here's another fact--those disciplines back in the day were actually branches of theology, working out theological truths within various branches of study.
Listen in as Tom, Glenn, and Chris talk about the demise of theology and its relegation to matters pertaining to the inner lives of religious people.
In some theologies it seems like God is so sovereign there is nothing left for anyone else to do. Secondary causation and creaturely agency appear to be defined right out of existence.
While this leaves people wondering about their agency, it also leaves angels with nothing to do.
So, in today's show Chris raises the question, what are angels for?
In the course of the conversation things gravitate toward the subject of the "principalities and powers" the Apostle Paul mentions in Ephesians and Chris recounts some disturbing personal experiences he's had with palpable evil, as well as one experience he had of a different nature when one of his parishioners lay dying in an Emergency Room because he had been cut open by a snow plow during a blizzard.
Glenn and Chris are joined once again by Dr. Ray Pennoyer, professor of philosophy.
Just because someone is wrong about one thing, doesn't mean he's wrong about everything. And just because someone is right about many things, doesn't mean he's right about everything.
Since the days of the Church Fathers Christians have had mixed feelings when it comes to Plato. It today's show Glenn returns to the theme of Platonism and what is indispensable in it. Perhaps we can even think about philosophical truth in the same way we think about truths that scientists discover concerning the workings of the physical world, philosophy may be able to tell us about immaterial structures and their workings--especially as they pertain to intrinsic meaning and the power of language to convey truth.
Glenn is joined by Chris and by special guest, Dr. Ray Pennoyer, professor of philosophy.
In today's show Tom raises the specter of propaganda--the form of communication seen in books like 1984 and totalitarian states, and increasingly the contemporary western world.
It was inevitable considering the fact that our elites no longer believe in metaphysics. Something must be said, but what if truth isn't an option? Propaganda is what you get in the name of truth. One of the thinkers that Tom refers to in the Jacques Ellul, the famous French thinker and aurhor of the book, Propaganda.
Glenn Sunshine is away on business, but Dr. Joseph Leake, Beowulf scholar and authority on Old English and Old Norse sits in for Glenn.
In today's show Chris introduces a subject that he's written a lot about: productive property.
Sometimes it is called "real property"--but whatever the name, we're not talking about your tooth brush here. Where talking about what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they limited the franchise to holders of property. They believed that productive property is essential for liberty.
It still is.
Chris is joined by Glenn and Tom for another wide-ranging discussion.
In today's episode Glenn introduces listeners to "transhumanism"--a philosophy and engineering project concerned with transcending the given limits of human nature. Transhumanists view the body solely as a machine, and the mind is somehow both dependent upon it, yet utterly distinct. (This should remind listeners a little of Descartes.) But what transhumanism actually is--for all its mechanistic notions--is just one more manifestation of the ancient hydra that has plagued western culture from the start: Gnosticism. The Pugcast audience continues to grow--Glenn, Tom, and Chris are both pleased and a little surprised. They're grateful. Also, the show has a growing number of financial supporters on the FLF Network. Thanks are in order for those folks, too. If you would like to join this merry band and financially support The Theology Pugcast you can do so through the Fight, Laugh, Feast Network.
In today's episode Chris begins with a simple truth: since modern welfare states are not the Kingdom of God they will end someday. This leads to a discussion of disincentives for having children in welfare states and why that spells their demise in the long run. Naturally debt is used to keep the state going in the near term, but this only make the eventual collapse that much more devastating.
Since we can see evidence of the final failure of the welfare state all around it is a good idea to "short" the welfare state.
Whenever you short an asset you're betting that its value will go down. The bet allocates resources into assets that will go up in value in the event of the loss of value in the shorted asset. So, what should we invest ourselves in instead of the welfare state? Chris turns to the book of Ruth in the Old Testament for clues.
Sound quality continues to improve--the Pug has discovered the source of the mysterious background noise that plagued earlier podcasts and it has been addressed. We hope you can enjoy the show better now!
In today's episode Glenn discusses an important distinction that is lost on most people today--the difference between liberty and license. The Founding Fathers of the United States understood the difference, and they did their best to structure American government in order to preserve liberty and inhibit license. We've come a long way, baby. Is there any hope for responsible freedom, or are we doomed to live in the Servile State, as the Distributists put it?
In today's show, Tom introduces listeners to the Barmen Declaration of 1934. He then helps listeners understand what genuine resistance to the Nazis looked like at the time, and how many German churches had been coopted by cultural trends.
In our ideological age, cut off from both nature and nature's God, totalitarianisms emerge to fill in the empty spaces in our heads and hearts. Classical Christian theism is what we need today, but most evangelicals don't know what that is.
Here's the wiki page for the Barmen Declaration--https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barmen_Declaration
Once again, the show is recorded on our new sound equipment! We're getting the hang of it.
Today's show begins with Chris's memories of three LGBT networks that existed in evangelical institutions. These are not hearsay stories, the people involved remain nameless, but Chris knew them personally. Most troubling was the way these networks recruited new members and initiated them. In each case theology was twisted to provide justification for what was occurring.
The stories provide a basis for considering what is known as the "Lavender Mafia" in the Roman Catholic Church. For those unfamiliar with the term, "Lavender Mafia" is the name used by socially conservative Roman Catholics for a network of homosexual priests that many people believe exists in the Roman Catholic Church.
Chris then wonders aloud, "Is it unreasonable to suspect that something similar may exist in some places among evangelical clergy?"
This is a free-ranging discussion that includes reflections on some of the theological trends within evangelicalism and how those trends may serve these networks.
As a bonus--this show is the first one recorded on the new recording equipment. The guys are still learning how to use it, so hopefully the sound quality will improve with each episode going forward.
Chris is in Dallas, and Glenn is on the road, and Tom feels too lonely to record a show. So, we dig into Chris's personal vault of recorded stuff this week for a conversation with Aaron Renn, publisher of the Masculinist.
Chris and Aaron are joined by David Talcott, professor of philosophy at King's College in New York City, Sam Perez, a pastor in Jersey City, and Nate Towers of Fellowship Deaconry.
This is a free-range conversation about men, masculinity, the church, women, Jason Peterson, and a host of other things. Enjoy!
In today's show Glenn provides an introduction to Protestant Resistance Theory. You may have wondered, are Christians the doormats of human history? Do we always turn the other cheek? Do you ever run out of cheeks? Is punching back ever justified, not just in self-defense, but in armed resistance against tyranny?
Well, you're not the first person to wonder. Glenn provides an overview of how Christians in general, and Protestants in particular, have come to say, "Enough! Now I'm fighting back!"
Naturally, Tom and Chris have things to share--and you may have guessed, they agree that there is a time to fight back.
In today's show Chris introduces listeners to two of his favorite writers--Matthew Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft, and Eric Hoffer, author of The True Believer. Both men could be described as "blue collar intellectuals" because they actually are (or were) blue collar men. Crawford is a motorcycle mechanic and Hoffer was a stevedore (a dockworker). But even though they're blue collar, their thinking is first class, not low class.
Chris has been a blue collar guy over the years--having actually been a carpenter and a home improvement contractor. Chris uses his experience and the writing of these authors to raise the question, "Is one of the reasons that academe is so crazy these days because most academics have no real acquaintance with working with the physical world?" Tom and Glenn chime in with excellent commentary as usual.
Unfortunately the guys don't know how to use their new recording equipment yet--so the sound quality is not what it will soon be. Nonetheless, here is some very worthwhile content for anyone who'd like to know what it means to be a blue collar intellectual.
In today's show Tom returns to the theme on technology but this time with an eye toward responding to Glenn's thoughts on enchantment. Is it possible to have the best of both--or must we choose between a world of creature comforts made possible by technology, or an uncomfortable but meaningful world? Fittingly, the guys had to choose between air-conditioning and optimal conditions for recording the show. (Sounds like the wrong choice was made--when you listen to the show you'll know what that means. Sorry.)
But there is some good news to share: this is our last episode with our old recording equipment. When the show was recorded the new equipment had been ordered. By the time the show was uploaded on the internet--the equipment had arrived! So, if all goes well, you'll never have to endure another poorly recored episode of The Pug!)
Content correction: Chris calls "the Death Star" from Star Wars "the Battle Star" (Heresy! He mixed up his franchises)--but at least he got the Marshwiggle's name from The Silver Chair right. It's "Puddleglum".
In today's show Glenn begins with a marvelous series of word studies ranging all the way from "enchantment" to "cosmology". His point is that our language is full of words that reflect a time when the world was full of meaning and words were spells that drew on those meanings. Undoubtedly, the very fact that we've lost the original meanings of words like "spell" and "magic" just reinforces the point that we now live in a disenchanted world.
Or do we? Tom points out in the conversation that what we actually have now is black magic. Our words now bend and twist things as we seek to dominate our world and other people. We've lost the "good magic" of Aslan and all we're left with is the "black magic" of the White Witch.
In today's episode Elizabeth Sunshine joins us again. We also inform listeners about exciting developments related to the Pugcast and it's future with the Fight, Laugh, Feast Network!
In today's show Chris raises the subject of C. S. Lewis and metaphysics. The evidence is overwhelming that C. S. Lewis was a Platonist--there are passages throughout his fiction in particular that demonstrate it. Tom and Glenn note that it shouldn't surprise us since Lewis was steeped in the classical sources, as well as Medieval and Renaissance works--think of Augustine, or Boethius--both fountainheads for the West, and both explicitly Platonist. There is an allergic reaction to Platonism is some Reformed circles today, and this is odd for no other reason than Calvin himself provides plenty of evidence in his work that he was shaped by Platonism. So today's episode may challenge the presuppositions of some listeners. Joining the Pugcast guys today is Glenn's daughter, Elizabeth, a doctoral candidate at Notre Dame.
Tom continues his reflection on the theological implications of technology. Are there any lines here? If it can be done, must it be done? What happened at Babel? And what about Cain's sons? They're identified in the Bible as the fathers of the arts. As usual, Glenn and Chris join in and try to throw Tom an occasional curveball to see if he can hit it. (He always does.) Plus a couple of announcements are mentioned in today's show. The Kickstarter has successfully ended and the crew are waiting for the funds to be distributed so that new recording equipment can be purchased. And on top of that, The Pugcast is joining the FLF Podcast Network in June! (FLF stands for: Fight, Laugh, Feast.) This should dramatically increase our listening audience.
The best kept secrets are the ones that you are keep from yourself. In today's show Glenn shares his thoughts on evangelical secularism--in other words, there are assumptions and biases that many evangelicals have that actually have their origins in a secular outlook. The paradox of this state of mind is evangelicals can unwittingly undermine the Christian faith even as they seek to promote it. Chris and Tom add their thoughts. And as a bonus--the show is recorded in a back room of The Corner Pug, making a marked improvement in the sound. Once the new recording equipment arrives the audio quality should be even better.
In today's show Chris introduces two virtues that he has written about elsewhere--pietas and gravitas. These virtues are at one and the same time alien to the contemporary world, yet longed for. What's more, there is a sense of recognition when people see them in practice, yet because we've lost the old ways of thinking about them and speaking about them, we no longer know how to promote them. This show is a small attempt to change that. As always, Glenn and Tom enrich the conversation.
Although it isn't mentioned in the podcast, the Pugcast team is pleased to announce that we will be joining the CrossPolitic network of podcasts beginning on June of 2019!
In today's show Tom introduces the subject of technology and its uses and abuses. While technology is an expression of God's image in human beings, it also can be used to deconstruct that image--or at least deface it in some way. So, do we use technology to shape the world, or does technology shape us--or is it both? Glenn and Chris join in, reflecting on the "cultural mandate", the Fall, the Tower of Babel, and more!
In this episode Glenn Sunshine shares his memories of Notre Dame from his time in Paris, as well as his thoughts on the art of interpreting the meaning embedded in the structure of a cathedral. Following the recent fire at Notre Dame there were disturbing remarks by some Protestants and secularists dismissing the significance and meaning of church buildings. (This is not a coincidence.) In today's show Tom and Chris add their "Amen" to Glenn's assertion that cathedrals matter. The title of today's show is a play on the verse drama, Murder in the Cathedral by T. S. Elliot.
Today the guys get into a little literary criticism as they discuss an article that Chris wrote for Touchstone Magazine years ago comparing C. S. Lewis and H. P Lovecraft. Most listeners to The Theology Pugcast are likely to be familiar with C. S. Lewis and his fiction--particularly the Chronicles of Narnia and the space trilogy. Fewer are likely to know about Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos, nevertheless it is hard to miss Lovecraft's influence on popular culture which can be felt in everything from a film like Alien to the writing of Stephen King. It is Chris's belief that Lewis may have even read Lovecraft for himself (they were near contemporaries and Lewis not only read for pulp magazines, he wrote for them.) This may seem like a far country from recent discussions on the podcast, but as Chris, Tom, and Glenn talk, you'll see that it is not. Just a couple of corrections, first, Chris erroneously refers to Ark House as the posthumous publisher of Lovecraft's stories--the correct name is Arkham House. (Chris knew that, but you know it goes--aging and all.) And in response to Glenn's question concerning the founders of Arkham House, the publishers were: August Derleth and Donald Wandrei.
Here's a link to the article at Touchstone: https://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=26-01-038-f
In our time of campus speech codes and hectoring for "misgendering" someone, it is tempting to downplay the fact that you really can do harm with your speech. Two of the Ten Commandments prohibit forms of speech--blasphemy and false witness. A case could be made that those are the same thing--just applied to God and man respectively. Today Tom Price shares his reflections on another essay by his mentor at Oxford.
Today Glenn shares some of his reflections on how the image of God is reflected in creation by the respective roles of men and women. Using the pattern of "forming and filling" from Genesis chapter one, Glenn notes that these correspond to the respective tasks of men and women as God's regents. Naturally this leads to a wide-ranging discussion as Tom and Chris comment on Glenn's thoughts.
In today's show C. R Wiley raises the question, "Can Christians be Pragmatists?" Quotations from William James and Richard Rorty, two of the 20th centuries greatest pragmatists, show how pragmatism is hostile to the classical Christian understanding of the relationship between words and the world. Words are tools for pragmatists, not windows--they create meaning and can be used to manipulate people. (No wonder people are offended by pronouns! Welcome to Babel.) The problem is most of the popular figures in the evangelical world today are pragmatists.
Today Tom Price shares an article by the English theologian Oliver O'Donovan entitled, The Natural Ethic. The discussion gets into late medieval developments in philosophy--specifically voluntarism and nominalism. Glenn raises some historical qualifications, but all are agreed that we live in a time when things are falling apart because we've lost the ability to see meaning in nature.
In today's show, Glenn analyzes the phenomenon of transgenderism and its meteoric rise to cause celebre'. Using "cultural marxism" to understand the phenomenon Glenn discusses both its appeal and its use of intimidation to force normalization. Tom looks at the phenomenon through the lens of the relationship of the transcendent God with his creation--particularly as that doctrine has been misconstrued by modernity, and Chris shares some anecdotes and his own nascent perspective that transgenderism is one more way that the world is at war with the Logos of God.
Chris gives an overview of the newsletter The Masculinist, and its creator Aaron Renn. Then he introduces the controversial claim made in the latest edition that "Complementarianism" (the belief that men and women have different roles in the household and the church but not in wider society) is doomed. Glen and Tom ask for a better account of complementarianism, but all three agree that version of "thin biblicism" is going to die. They do not think egalitarianism offers anything as an alternative. So what's next? They agree, the Church needs to recover its old metaphysic, and then the Christian doctrine of creation will come back.
In today's show, Dr. Thomas Price shares an article written by his old mentor at Oxford, Dr. John Webster. The article is entitled: "Love is Also a Lover of Life: creatio ex nihilo and Creaturely Goodness." After Tom explains the importance of transcendence and the doctrine of creation from nothing, then Chris, Glenn, and Tom venture to "comb out" the implications for worldview, ethics, salvation, and the place of the church in the world.
Dr. Glenn Sunshine speaks with Dr. Thomas Price and C. R. Wiley about his recent article at BreakPoint entitled: An Emerging Worldview." Although none of the Theology Pugcast team like the term "Cultural Marxism," it is useful for understanding at least one aspect of this phenomenon.