Speaking of Hart…

July 29, 2009

For some reason the Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart has been making repeated appearances here of late.  It’s not over yet: sometime in the next few weeks I’ll be posting some thoughts about his recent book Atheist Delusions, and today I am drawing attention to a short essay posted at First Things.  It’s a reflection on gnosticism, Darwinism, and that melancholy classic of children’s literature, The Little Prince.  Like pretty much everything he writes, it is worth reading.  For example:

Hans Jonas defined the special pathos of Gnosticism as the unearthly allure of the call from beyond, the voice of the stranger God that resonates within the soul that knows itself to be only a resident alien in this world. And he saw this as a pathos peculiarly familiar to us in this the age of “unaccommodated man.” This is undoubtedly correct, but it should also be said that this “call of the stranger God” is itself only one modality of a more general summons audible to all persons (except those who have laboriously deafened themselves to it), more or less at all times. It is that same experience of wonder at the sheer unexpectedness and mystery of existence that Plato and Aristotle called the beginning of philosophy, or the same primordial agitation of desire that Augustine described as the unquiet heart’s yearning for God. The distinctive note that shifts this summons into a Gnostic register, however, is that of alienation from the world; and this is largely a matter of cultural circumstance.

The entire essay is here.

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