Friday, August 20, 2010


Now that I have uploaded a photograph appropriate to my station in life at my site, I shall draw your precious attention to the recent academic paper I have there uploaded as well (downloadable at the same link). In short, the Princeton University Chapel iconography resisted liberal Manhattan Episcopalianism to preserve an evangelically grounded, profoundly ecumenical, liturgically aware Protestantism at the beginning of the 20th century, which is - of course - exactly what we need at the beginning of the 21st.

The upshot:
Historian P. C. Kemeny was right to suggest that Princeton in the late 1920s found “in liberal Protestantism a faith that was more compatible with modernity.” As I have shown, the Chapel’s insistence on the harmony of science and religion and its openness to modern thinkers such as Hume and Spinoza support this assertion. But Princeton’s liberal Protestantism was the more moderate kind. At the visual apex of the University’s defining monument, Friend managed to enshrine two notes of continuity with Princeton’s nineteenth-century evangelicalism, positions which, in fact, have traditionally been associated with Protestant liberalism’s fundamentalist opponents: the literal resurrection and the final judgment.
Problem is, I end the paper on by suggesting that Catholics may be the only ones close to realizing such a vision.  But who knows?

Another piece I wrote, this one at First Things regarding my visit to an Orthodox Monastery (or as they say in Greece, MoNAStery), seems to have been picked up by some sort of site, so read away. The upshot: "Perhaps American Orthodoxy's own intractable divisions are a gift providentially withheld." Withheld for the sake of a wider ecumenism, that is. If you, as most American Christians, are unaware of the complexity and contradictions of American Orthodox identity, you might want to start where I did (the book, and that which it depicts, is more complex than it first appears).  It's not a pretty picture, but it's an endearing one. Welcome to the mess of Christianity in America, friends.