John von Heyking, assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Lethbridge, has in this book presented helpful, alternative reflections of St. Augustin’s perspectives on politics, taken mainly from Augustin’s work, City of God. Von Heyking challenges a traditional literal interpretation of the City of God that has fostered dualistic, anti-political, anti-worldly perspectives, often with an absolute antithesis between the Church, politics, and the world. Von Heyking attributes traditional readings as a misunderstanding of St. Augustin’s rhetorical style (the device of rhetorical excess over excess) in the City of God. The two cities are to be seen as educational hortatory rhetoric, representations of two extremes, the extremes of the worst of Roman society, and of the perfect and Ultimate Good in the Eternal city of God. “Augustine’s excessive rhetoric is meant to reform the inordinate desires of his audience.” It is the populous, a human, organized, political entity that exists in the space between the city of God and the city of man. For Augustine, politics is a natural good, though not ultimate leading to perfection, but he regarded politics to be the,”…natural expression of human beings’ striving to obtain a kind of wholeness, and building a community, as an expression of their loves.”
I teach Him (Grant) now—but oddly only started to read him around 2010. So only since then any direct influence—but no doubt indirectly much before then.
(John Milbank to Ron Dart, email, 12-15-2014)
Conrad Noel continued the Headlam/Hancock sense that the church was the true society and extended earlier intuitions about the links between liturgy and social order. He surely realized the powerful links between beauty and justice, social and natural harmony.
(John Milbank to Ron Dart, email, 1-2-2015)
I remember, with much fondness, a lunch spent with John Milbank at Peterhouse (founded in 1284) in Cambridge in May 1995. I was doing, at the time, research on the Anglican High Romanticism of S. T. Coleridge and the Anglican High Toryism of T.S. Eliot. I was on my way to Little Gidding for a few days to ponder Eliot’s Four Quartets. John Milbank had published his innovative and plough to soil tome, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (1990). Radical Orthodoxy did not exist at the time, but the seeds of the movement had definitely been sown with Theology and Social Theory. Needless to say, we chatted much at Peterhouse (the definitive High Church college at Cambridge—Milbank made sure I realized this was Laud’s College) about Milbank’s demanding read of a book and how his challenge to secular reason opened up new yet much older terrain in which to do theology, philosophy, social theory and, in time, political philosophy. I did, a few days later, when at St. John’s College Oxford, attend a lecture by Professor Patrick Collinson, who spent most of the time bashing Archbishop William Laud (but such were his puritan and protestant prejudices). I was fortunate at the time to be spending time with David Nicholls (rector of SS Mary & Nicholas Church Littlemore—The church Cardinal Newman built and where he crossed the Rubicon to Rome—quite a different read on Laud and politics than that offered by Collinson.
The more I study theology, the less confident I feel about doing evangelism. If that sounds disheartening, please be assured that I remain committed to both. To explain: at earlier stages of my faith, I was bold in declaring the gospel in quite mechanistic ways; but gradually, these rather brash versions of Christian proclamation have seemed less and less adequate. I want to share the beauty and mystery of God and his relations with the world – but beauty and mystery don’t fit so easily onto bumper stickers. I’ve found myself casting around for help. One sphere I’ve reached out to - or which perhaps has reached out to me - is the sphere of poetry.
What thoughts come into your mind, dear reader, when I use the word ‘poetry’? Perhaps you think of something pleasant but rather frivolous at best, somewhat ornamental to the real stuff of life. Or perhaps the term dredges up memories of dire afternoons in high school English classes trying to work out what on earth some author was on about. It is my assertion that poetry need be neither a distracting frippery nor an impenetrable enigma. What I want to argue in this article is based on a hunch – a hunch that poetry can be of great service as a tool, and indeed as an end of the gospel itself.
To bring my discussion into focus, I shall be sharing the work of two very different contemporary Christian poets. The first is Anglican priest, poet and scholar Malcolm Guite, whose theological writing and literary criticism underpins and informs much of my own thinking; the second is Kenneth Steven, a poet whose work draws on the Celtic tradition and the landscape of his native Scotland.
The Way of Poetry
We might begin by asking: what is poetry? Despite being woefully under-qualified to do so, I will offer a hesitant definition to get us going. What we can say is poetry is a form of ordered language that is distinct in some ways from prose. It exhibits a certain intensity of language, often employing strange or unusual words and combinations of words to bring to bear fresh or recovered insight to the world. Expressing a similar set of ideas, Rowan Williams calls poetic language ‘language under pressure deployed as a means of exploration.’ 
Now there are all sorts of further issues raised by these working definitions, but for now, let us ask a related question which is no less mysterious, but is more germane to the discussion at hand: how does poetry ‘work’?
 Rowan Williams, The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), 133.
I have suggested before that we are in the midst of a second "great axial period".  Like the first "axial period,"  the processes and influences of the second axial period in which we find ourselves, can lead closer to, not further from, God. This will happen, however, only if we overcome fundamentalism and extreme right wing religion.
Pompeii is a story that fascinates me. The idea that a village could be so utterly destroyed and swallowed alive, as well as preserved for thousands of years intrigues many. What intrigues me even more is this is a city in existence during the time of Jesus, a place just south of modern day Naples that Paul likely knew, and possibly even visited during his travels.
“Bomb those bastards” is a phrase I am hearing more and more in relationship to the crisis in the Middle East. Even more disturbing is that it comes from the mouths of well-intentioned followers of Jesus Christ. The topic of pacifism and justified war is sticky, and needs to be treated with respect, but from my perspective Jesus was a peace preaching messenger of His Abba. I have my own thoughts regarding the temple cleansing, but to keep the focus where it needs to be for this essay, I’ll leave that off the table. (Read my thoughts on the temple cleansing act here.)
What do we do regarding the atrocities and abhorrent behavior of those semi-men Isis? How do we handle the beheading of children, women, families all because they are Christians? How can we justify anything but violent retribution as an answer to their murder?
When I first started reading about these people, I was utterly shocked. Not at the fact that humans could act this way, history has proven we can, and do. No, I was shocked at how quickly the call to violent retribution came from the mouths of Jesus followers. How quickly we have forgotten our own history and testimony of the redemptive love of God.
There was a man once who went around proclaiming that his “God” ordained the death of infants. He praised this god, rejoiced in his violence and bloodshed, and proclaimed it to be God’s will. Who was this man? A Muslim? A Pagan? An Egyptian warlord? No. King David. Psalm 137:8-9 ...
What I share with you today began with this picture called The Cave. It is a drawing by David Hayward of a young woman, standing at the entrance to a dark cave. She knows this cave is a part of her very self, and she is arguing with herself about whether to take a look inside.
I have carried this image in my mind since I first saw it last fall. It has made sense of a deep longing I’ve had for the church for many years. To me this picture is a call to acknowledging and embracing all that is hidden in us that we’d prefer to hide or forget. It is a call to mature, and to become all that we can.
Nan Merrill writes in her translation of Psalm 107:
And know yourself! Let your aim be to recognize who you are.
Aspire to live as sons and daughters of Divine Love,
To enshrine the earth with divinity,
To honour all relationships as sacred, and to live in peace and in balance with all living things.
I like this picture … the girl taking a look inside … she’s peeking behind the eye, looking past the exterior. She wants to know who is inside.
Donald Miller, the author of the book Scary Close writes “The reality is people who allow themselves to be known are often even more respected than those who don’t. In the end, we trust and are comforted by those who are brave enough to be known.”
And now a quote from Timothy Keller: “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
So here is my first mystery for you: to be fully known is the only way we can be fully loved. And this is not just about being known by someone else, but also about knowing ourselves.
The apostle Paul, in the fifth chapter of his letter to the Romans, is insistent on there being ‘much more’ in the provision of the gospel than was surrendered by the fall. He uses the phrase πολλῷ μᾶλλον four times in the chapter and ὑπερεπερίσσευω once, which alerts us to his perspective on the abundant provision in Christ. This paper will look at this theme in the verses 12 through 21, specifically drawing from the church fathers and their perspectives on this text and on what was lost for the human race by Adam, and what was gained in Christ. Due to the brevity of the paper, it will present only a very distilled sampling of the perspectives of the church fathers.
First of all, let us look at what the church fathers suggest was lost in Adam’s disobedience based on their commentary of Romans 5:12-14. It was interesting to note that, contrary to much current emphasis among conservative preaching and teaching, that death and not sin was perceived by the fathers to be the real enemy of humanity. Sin was the gateway or access point for death to enter, and both needed to be reversed, but death was the true foe. Ambrosiaster says,
“Death is the separation of body and soul. There is another death as well, called the second death, which takes place in Gehenna. We do not suffer this death as a result of Adam’s sin, but his fall makes it possible for us to get it by our own sins…The sentence passed on Adam was that the human body would decompose on earth, but the soul would be bound by the chains of hell (Hades) until it was released.”
 Gerald L. Bray, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Romans, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), p. 136
Ron Dart is, arguably, the most significant Red Tory thinker of our epoch. He is certainly the most prolific. Dart follows a path trodden by such notable Canadian political philosophers as Stephen Leacock and George Grant. Attached are two reviews on his work on George Grant, Lament for a Nation: Then and Now.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
2 It is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court.In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.
(1 Cor. 4:2-5)
In 1972, I came to belief in Christ and consciously prayed for God's saving grace to come into my life. I was baptized on the confession of my faith in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Later, was welcomed into membership at Calvary Baptist Church. After transferring membership to Bethel Mennonite Church, I also went on staff and was ordained as a Reverend by the Conference of Mennonites in BC. My ordination was also recognized by the Christian Ministers Association after we planted Fresh Wind Christian Fellowship. Many moons later, I was chrismated into the Eastern Orthodox Church (again, upon confession of the Symbol of Faith) and later, was ordained as a Reader.
None of this allows me to claim to be Christian. Many who say, 'Lord, Lord' will prove to be strangers before Christ on the Last Day.
During the course of these assorted ministries, I prophesied in Jesus' name, cast out demons (or at least thought I did) in Jesus' name, even did the odd wonder in Jesus' name. Taught in his name, evangelized in his name, pastored in his name, counseled in his name, prayed in his name.
None of this allows me to claim to be Christian. Many who serve 'In his name,' will prove to be strangers before Christ on the Last Day.
The stubborn fact is that it not by our claims, but by our fruit that Jesus recognizes living faith. Nor will the fruit he seeks be our spiritual pedigree or our relentless religiosity. It seems that he will actually be looking for the fruit of the grace of the Holy Spirit in our lives, whatever that means.
Claiming the fruit does not allow me to claim to be Christian. Only bearing the fruit will count on the last day.
The fruit of the grace of God's spirit cannot grow from the flesh of self-righteousness, striving or zeal. It can only grow on branches grafted to the Tree of Life, the Cross of Christ. Paul sure knew this:
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
1. Simone Weil: An Astonishing Life
2. Waiting on God: Contemplation and Astonishment
3. The Goodness of God and the Affliction of Humanity: An Astonishing Cross
See 'Awaiting God' by Simone Weil, trans. by Brad Jersak and Anny Ruch. Includes an Introduction by her niece, Sylvie Weil, and enfolds both books, 'Waiting for God' and 'Letters to a Priest' in the one volume. Also available on kindle and audio books here:
A Lament for a Nation: then and now. Ron Dart, 2015, New York. American Anglican Press
A Review by Henk Smidstra
In this little book of 38 pages, Author Ron Dart explicates important Canadian political philosophical issues as he leads us through the events and ideas contained in George Grant’s pivotal book, Lament for a Nation, originally written in 1965. Perhaps Dart’s contribution could be called: “Dart’s Notes” on George Grant’s important book, a work acknowledged being a masterpiece of Canadian political theory. Dart provides us with timely, much needed, insights and perspectives on Canadian political history and philosophy, which not only help our understanding as we read, or reread, George Grant’s book, but the booklet of itself sketches the groundwork of an alternative philosophical path for us as we ponder our political choices this election year amidst the din of political rhetoric and spectacle of absurd attack adds. “It is my hope,” Dart writes in his Preface, “that this little book will highlight the perennial significance of Lament, both when it was published in 1965 and for 2015 and beyond….”
The body of the booklet contains four essays relevant to disclosing the main points of Grant’s reflections on the political philosophical situation of his time. There is repetition and overlap in the essays, but in each Dart explores different aspects and perspectives, of the political historical context, and of the political philosophical context. As well, Dart compares Grant’s affinities and differences with others such as Ernest Manning and Alan Ginsberg who were also writing and critiquing liberalism at that time. Dart writes passionately but plainly about a topic familiar to him. He has thought about the topics at hand deeply and has put much work into them before, namely, the concern about the waning of Canadian Nationalism and the rise of American liberalism. From our cultural political situation in 2015, one might wonder how a book written fifty years ago can still be relevant to Canadians.