The Economic Horizon

Insofar as every message has an audience, and every social institution has an appeal to certain demographics more than to others, both are limited by the economy. The degree to which a message/institution is limited and the number of niches to which it can address itself varies. We overlook these limitations of our beloved institutions at our peril. It may be that, given social differentiation, anything that claims to be universal needs to see what, exactly, its social form is. It may be something quite different from a universal — it may be a sect, or a special interest group, or something else. Economic pressures and patterns of social organization may be more universal in this age; it is not clear that modern Orthodoxy has a social articulation of a universal message about the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead that could hint at a universal horizon whose myriad signs (charity, in all its senses) are bastioned in a minority group that does something revolutionary, something futural. Rather, modern Orthodoxy seems largely poised to sell as a product to certain niches, as is evidenced by the average educational attainment of its members (see the Pew study, below).

I had originally intended to publish this somewhere, in a different form; I leave it here for whoever may be interested in reading it — and to justify closing a number of tabs left open on my browser. :-)

Were I to write this properly, I’d go through Durkheim, Weber, Tönnies, Berger (and Berger, and Berger), Moore, Luckmann, Bruce (and Bruce), Stout, Warner, Pitts, Chambers, Giddens, Parsons, and Táíwò. Sadly, there’s only so much time, and a man needs to work. 

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Norman Geisler on the Ascension of Jesus

This is the twenty-sixth follow-up post to Gagarin and the Seven Heavens. The evangelical Protestant apologist Norman Geisler died on the 1st of July, 2019. He was 86 years old. While he had a PhD in philosophy, he is not remembered for his contributions to that field, but applied his philosophical training to the defense of the school positions peculiar to the religious tribe of evangelical Protestant Christians — inerrantism of the Bible and such. I read him a little bit when I was nineteen, and promptly moved on to Pannenberg and Nietzsche. Most of Geisler strikes me as strangely preoccupied with something like sales — preconceiving the Bible to be a document that is divinely pristine and unerring (but confirming the historically specific tribal assumptions of evangelical Protestants), a document that is understood to be a foundation of truth, and vindicating it against anyone who would deny its normativity or trustworthiness (in the sense that Geisler wants it to be trustworthy). Recently, I recently came across his four-volume “Systematic Theology,” and wondered: what does he say about the ascension of Jesus? So I dug through it. Here is what I found.

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MacIntyre — Secularization and Moral Change, Some Concluding Thoughts

The previous post summarized the outlines of the course of the arguments made by Alasdair MacIntyre in the first, the second, and the third parts of his Secularization and Moral Change. As with the posts summarizing the individual sections, here I must reiterate that Peter Webster has what is probably the best summary of the book out there. I have offered a set of excerpts from A. V. Demant’s review. I also have asked whether the pre-modern world was the unified moral community that MacIntyre suggests it is.

Outlines and summary completed, a somewhat haphazard collection of my reflections/thoughts on Secularization and Moral Change follows below.

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MacIntyre, Demant, and the Book of Sirach

Here I offer a question about whether MacIntyre’s framework in Secularization and Moral Change (we first reviewed part one, then part two, and finally part three, as well as summarizing the three parts) is entirely consistent with the evidence of previous ages regarding the novelty, within the modern period, of heterogeneous classes generating the loss of a sense of a shared moral community (and, thus, generating the loss of a shared religious community, culturally and sociologically).

I will not presume to answer this question, but I will offer material that will, I hope, allow one to ask it reasonably.

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Alasdair MacIntyre — Secularization and Moral Change, Selections from Demant’s Review

V. A. Demant wrote a review of Alasdair MacIntyre’s Secularization and Moral Change which I list chunks of here, from the April 1968 issue of The Journal of Theological Studies.

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