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All participants in late medieval debates recognized Holy Scripture as the principal authority in matters of Catholic doctrine. Popes, theologians, lawyers—all were bound by the divine truth it conveyed. Yet the church possessed no absolute means of determining the final authoritative meaning of the biblical text—hence the range of appeals to antiquity, to the papacy, and to councils, none of which were ultimately conclusive. Authority in the late medieval church was a vexing issue precisely because it was not resolved.
An Advocate, the Riverbank, and Murder in Topeka, Kansas
Benedict Giamo has published widely on the condition of historical and contemporary homelessness in America. In Homeless Come Home: An Advocate, the Riverbank, and Murder in Topeka, Kansas, Giamo offers a deeply sympathetic yet critical look at the life of homeless advocate David Owen, who was tortured and killed in 2006 by some of those he intended to help. Part chronicle, part social analysis, part investigative journalism, and part true-crime book, Homeless Come Home examines why and how David Owen contributed to his own gruesome death.
Philosophical Essays in Memory of Gerald Hanratty
From 1968 until his death in 2003, Gerald Hanratty was professor of philosophy at University College Dublin. In this volume to his memory, Fran O'Rourke has assembled twenty-six essays reflecting Hanratty's broad philosophical interests, dealing with central questions of human existence and the ultimate meaning of the universe. Whether engaged in historical investigations into Gnosticism or the Enlightenment, Hanratty was concerned with fundamental themes in the philosophy of religion and philosophical anthropology. Human Destinies brings together a wide range of approaches to central questions of human nature and destiny. Included are historical studies of classical thinkers of the ancient and medieval periods (Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Aquinas) and of modern authors (Kant, Husserl, Heidegger, Marcel, Adorno, Derrida, Plantinga, Scruton).
My Life and Pastimes
With I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You, Ralph McInerny—distinguished scholar, mystery writer, editor, publisher, and family man—delivers a thoroughly engaging memoir. In the course of his recollections, McInerny describes his childhood in Minnesota; his grammar school and seminary education, with his decision to leave the path toward ordination; his marriage to his beloved Connie and their active family life and travels; and his life as a fiction writer. We learn of his career as a Catholic professor of philosophy at Notre Dame, his views on the Catholic Church, his experiences as an editor and publisher of Catholic magazines and reviews, his involvement with the International Catholic University, and his thoughts on other Catholic writers. Part homage to his academic home for the last half century and part appreciation of the many significant friendships he has fostered over his life, McInerny's reminiscences beautifully convey his lively interest in the world and his gift for friendship and collegiality.
In "Return of the Heroes," Walt Whitman refers to the casualties of the American Civil War: "the dead to me mar not. . . . / they fit very well in the landscape under the trees and grass. . . ." In her new poetry collection, Jude Nutter challenges Whitman's statement by exploring her own responses to war and conflict and, in a voice by turns rueful, dolorous, and imagistic, reveals why she cannot agree. Nutter, who was born in England and grew up in Germany, has a visceral sense of history as a constant, violent companion. Drawing on a range of locales and historical moments—among them Rwanda, Sarajevo, Nagasaki, and both world wars—she replays the confrontation of personal history colliding with history as a social, political, and cultural force. In many of the poems, this confrontation is understood through the shift from childhood innocence and magical thinking to adult awareness and guilt. Nutter responds to Whitman from another perspective as well. It was Whitman who wrote that he could live with animals because, among other things, they are placid, self-contained, and guiltless. As counterpoint, Nutter weaves a series of animal poems—a kind of personal bestiary—throughout the collection that reveals the tragedy and violence also inherent in the lives of animals. Here, as in much of Nutter's previous work, the boundaries between the animal and human worlds are permeable; the urgent voice of the poet insists we recognize that "Even from a distance, suffering / is suffering." Here is both acknowledgment and challenge: distance may be measured in terms of time, culture, or place, or it may be caused by the gap between animals and humans, but it is our responsibility to speak against atrocity and bloodshed, however voiceless we may feel.
The Dark Theology of Samuel Beckett's Drama
Iconic Spaces looks at Samuel Beckett's mature theatrical work as a displaced theology of the icon. Sandra Wynands rejects conventional existentialist or nihilist interpretations of Beckett's work, arguing instead that beneath the text, in the depths of language and being, Beckett creates an absolutely irreducible, transcendent space. She traces a nondual model of perception and experience through a selection of Beckett's art-critical and dramatic works, focusing in particular on four minimalist plays: Catastrophe, Not I, Quad, and Film. Iconic Spaces makes an important contribution to scholars and students of literature, philosophy, theatre studies, and religion by giving them an exciting new way of reading and experiencing Beckett's work.
Arguments and Adventures, Expanded Edition
When In So Many Words was first appeared in 2006, the Chicago Tribune observed that Robert Schmuhl’s collection of essays offered “some of the sharpest and most informative cultural criticism available.” Now, In So Many More Words expands on the writings in the first edition and includes seventeen new essays written during the past four years. Schmuhl analyzes the emergence of Barack Obama and evaluates America’s new political landscape in light of the 2008 election. Schmuhl also looks at contemporary media and the cultural effects created by bloggers, pundits, and cable shouters. The explosive growth of news sources, he says, “comes at a public price—a continuing fragmentation of audiences and a marked decline in a commonly shared culture.”
In his latest collection of literary fiction, Mark Brazaitis evokes with sympathy, insight, and humor the lives of characters in a small Ohio town. The ten short stories of The Incurables limn the mental landscape of people facing conditions they believe are insolvable, from the oppressive horrors of mental illness to the beguiling and baffling complexities of romantic and familial love. In the book’s opening story, “The Bridge,” a new sheriff must confront a suicide epidemic as well as his own deteriorating mental health. In “Classmates,” a man sets off to visit the wife of a classmate who has killed himself. Is he hoping to write a story about his classmate or to observe the aftermath of what his own suicide attempt, if successful, would have been like? In the title story, a down-on-his-luck porn actor returns to his hometown and winds up in the mental health ward of the local hospital, where he meets a captivating woman. Other stories in the collection include “A Map of the Forbidden,” about a straight-laced man who is tempted to cheat on his wife after his adulterous father dies, and “The Boy behind the Tree,” about a problematic father-son relationship made more so by the arrival on the scene of a young man the son’s age. In “I Return,” a father narrates a story from the afterlife, discovering as he does so that he is not as indispensable to his family as he had believed.
This intellectual history and textual analysis of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s famous and obscure theme of the verbum interius, or “inner word,” serves as an indispensable guide to and reference for hermeneutic theory. John Arthos here gives a full exposition and interpretation of the medieval doctrine of the inner word, long one of the most challenging ideas in Gadamer’s Truth and Method. The scholastic idea of a word that is thought but not yet spoken served Augustine as an analogy for the procession of the Trinity, served Aquinas as the medium between divine ideas and human expression, and serves Gadamer as an expression of the embodied nature of human language. Arthos offers a history of the idea of the inner word in ancient and medieval thought, its place in German philosophy, and its significance for probing the deepest implications of hermeneutic understanding. Arthos also provides a close reading of Gadamer’s exegesis of the source texts of the doctrine of the inner word. He cross-references Gadamer’s analyses with the original texts and draws out their Heideggerian and Hegelian overtones. Through this close reading, Arthos deepens our understanding of the radical nature of Gadamer’s thought, which not only calls upon the authority of tradition but also develops some of the profoundest insights of classical and Judaeo-Christian teaching about language.
Alasdair MacIntyre and Critics
Both as cardinal and as Pope Benedict XVI, one of Josef Ratzinger’s consistent concerns has been the foundational moral imperatives of the natural law. In 2004, then Cardinal Ratzinger requested that the University of Notre Dame study the complex issues embedded in discussions about “natural rights” and “natural law” in the context of Catholic thinking. To that end, Alasdair MacIntyre provided a substantive essay on the foundational problem of moral disagreements concerning natural law, and eight scholars were invited to respond to MacIntyre’s essay, either by addressing his work directly or by amplifying his argument along other yet similar paths. The contributors to this volume are theologians, philosophers, civil and canon lawyers, and political scientists, who reflect on these issues from different disciplinary perspectives. Once the contributors’ essays were completed, MacIntyre responded with a closing essay. Throughout the book, the contributors ask: Can a persuasive case for a foundational morality be made etsi Deus daretur (as if God did not exist)? And, of course, persuasive to whom? The exchanges that take place between MacIntyre and his interlocutors result, not in answers, but in rigorous attempts at clarification. Intractable Disputes about the Natural Law will interest ethicists, moral theologians, and students and scholars of moral philosophy.