The Mystery of God’s Survival in Political Order –Part 2
An Extended Review by
People cannot grant a greater authority to a ruler than God has granted to them, and what God has given man to govern his own life are limited forms of equality and liberty, given in trust, conditionally. This is thematic in Glenn Moots' book.
No individual or community could make an unlimited, unconditional grant of its liberty to a ruler, without violating the trust of God, which would thereby render the grant void.
Consequently, the covenantal approach to political society limited authority, necessitated a moral critique of tyranny, gave rise to a righteous right of resistance, to be exercised by the people’s representatives, when such implicit consent was violated in a substantial manner, and also provided a profound moral ground and political legitimacy for the exercise of individual conscience.
This naturally leads to questions as to how far resistance may be taken, i.e., what can be its legitimate aims, and what are its bounds.
The Mystery of God’s Survival in Political Order –Part 1
An Extended Review by
I suspect that Glenn Moots is a great fan of Agatha Christie. It is not that his book is a work of fiction, but it certainly does read like a murder mystery. True to the genre, the tale begins with the discovery of a death: in this case, God’s.
But this is a detective story with a twist. The mystery is not who killed God, or even who killed “covenant” as a political symbol and device, for as the tale of the historical development of covenant in Anglo-American political thought and practice unfolds, the truth emerges that they are not entirely dead, despite the best efforts of all sorts of characters, both suspicious and noble.
The mystery is, rather, whether God and covenant can be saved in the public realm and, if so, how and by whom? In other words, Moots is concerned with a challenge taken up by Hercule Poirot in the short story "Wasps’ Nest:" can the detective solve the murder before it is accomplished, and perchance prevent it?
Wary of the Systematizing Spirit
a book review by
We all know the student who, given a reading assignment asks: “what am I reading for?" An irritating question because, if the meaning of texts could be reduced to a few straightforward propositions, there wouldn’t be much point in reading.
Yet the student’s question is but a particularly crude manifestation of the more general tendency of modern reading and writing to ignore modality and assume that a text is written and must be read as a discursive account, as an object before a subject, or at best as a story with a moral.
Lyric poetry, drama, certain forms of the novel, and indeed satire are exceptions, of course, but they are part of “art” which, we have learned from the visual arts, conveys its meaning by distortion of what is “naturally” given. Such forms of expression tend, furthermore, to be marginal to modern life.
Philippe Bénéton, Professor of Law and Politics at the University of Rennes, has written a charming book that adopts the artful indirection of his authors in order to illustrate by example rather than by precept how they operate and, in so doing engages rather than confronts his reader with the great questions that they sought to tackle.
In wordplay inspired by his sources he develops the conceit of a hitherto unpublished correspondence between Machiavelli, Erasmus and Thomas More, purportedly discovered in Palazzo Tuttofare in Florence and duly elucidated by professors R. Hellish and A. Sbagliato. Jokes aside, the book presents admirable imitations of the Renaissance authors’ style, evidence of Bénéton’s sensitive and insightful reading of the originals.
It is in the nature of the book that it cannot be easily summarized. The reader must take time with it, savor it and follow its meanders. The author is well served by his translator – no easy task given the emphasis on the art of writing.*
Escaping from the Eye of Judgment
a book review by
The Face of God, the most recent book by the prolific English philosopher Roger Scruton, is a measured, clear, and impressive philosophical critique of what Scruton describes as “the atheist culture that is growing around us” (p.1 ).
He notes at the start of this brief (180-page) work that he will be diagnosing contemporary “atheist culture” as both an intellectual and a moral phenomenon, and as his argument proceeds, it becomes obvious that these two dimensions of the issue can only superficially be separated from each other. This is because, in Scruton’s analysis, contemporary intellectual ideas and systems that deny the apprehension of God, or the “real presences” of spiritual reality as manifest in human subjects, nature, or art, are always in part motivated by a “desire to escape from the eye of judgement” (2).
This is indeed a moral issue, and one that Scruton accurately places at the center of contemporary culture’s frequent and ubiquitous manifestations of an eagerness to disenchant, deface, and desecrate all that smacks of the sacramental and the transcendent.
While atheist culture derives from many origins, in other words, Scruton wishes to emphasize that one of its central motives is flight from accountability to the truths and difficulties of being a subject involved with and encountering other subjects–flight, that is, from being an “I” who continually addresses, and is addressed by, a “You,” whether this “You” is God, another person, a landscape, a natural object, an artwork, or even a building.