Friday, November 22, 2013

Theological Origins of Modernism?

My friend and International Authors colleague Horace Jeffery Hodges is currently writing about Christian antecedents to modern notions of liberty. As the Highbrow community as well as the readers of my books know, this is a subject that I have explored in my work in analytic philosophy, in my Afterword to the International Authors edition of The Scarlet Letter, and in my novel, Tally-Ho, Cornelius!  Actually, in the final scene of my Aristophanic comedy Diogenes, you will find it there, too.

Professor Hodges is appropriately skeptical of Christianity's record in the matter of modern liberty, as he reports in his recent blog entry,  Christianity and Liberty?   He concludes, "Christianity's record on freedom is . . . spotty in deed and spotty indeed . . ."   Very properly, Professor Hodges would like to see  "what brought about an interpretation of scripture conducive to liberty, democracy, and equality."  My initial response to him is that an answer to his question is offered as "a point of departure in the opening to Locke's Letter on Toleration, which is not only an instructive and fascinating essay, but is also a vehicle for enjoying Locke's engaging and pleasant personality."  I should add that the Letter is the classic formulation of what I understand to be the the foundation of modernism: the separation of church and state.

Let's hope Professor Hodges continues to reflect on this question, evokes his command of the history of religion and his knowledge of the Bible, and points us towards a bigger and more capable analysis.

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