Thursday 8 December 2005

On this day

9 December is a significant day for me:

On this day in 1608, the great English poet and theologian John Milton was born. Milton is very important to me, and my doctoral dissertation was on Milton’s theology.

This day in 1968 was also the last day of Karl Barth’s life. Barth went to sleep on the night of 9 December and did not wake again. As readers of this blog will know, no theologian is more important to me and no theologian has influenced me more than Karl Barth.

Finally, on this day in 2000, on a sultry summer afternoon in North Queensland, my wife and I were married. Deo gratias!


Jim said...

Congrats on points one and 3! Condolences on part 2. And, just so you know, it's sultry here to today, at 38 f. with a cold rain and anticipated snow.... ugh. Anyway, all the best to you and your lovely wife.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations both of you and have a wonderful day

..and Imagine a bit of John Lennon for Yesterday?

best wishes

Paul W said...

Congratulations to both you and your wife for today.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear, Ben, that your admiration for T. S. Eliot doesn't embrace the Anglo-Catholic Royalist's distaste for Milton!

Five points on Milton's continuing relevance:

(1) His radically this-worldly and politicised piety, with none of that frenetic search for personal salvation which Bonhoeffer referred to as "salvation egoism". At the same time, his refusal to sanction the use of political power to enforce morality.

(2) The unapologetic contextuality, eclecticism, and ruthless honesty of his thought. "Custom without truth," he said, "is but agedness of error."

(3) "Paradise Lost", in itself (duh!), but also as an inspiration for "Moby Dick", both being requisite reading for any theologian worth his salt. There is evidence that Melville was re-reading "Paradise Lost"
around the time (1850) that his imagination was transforming a whaler's captain into an archetype of satanic pride.

(4) His quite unpuritanical and upfront attitude to and treatment of sex (check out those erotic descriptions of the naked Eve!). Question: Does the Religious Right campaign to ban Milton from high school education? Answer: They would if they had the brains to read him!

(5) Without him, we would not have A. E. Houseman's priceless couplet:
"And malt does more than Milton can / To justify God's ways to man."

Ben Myers said...

Nice five points, Kim (especially #5). You're absolutely right, too: all theologians should read both Paradise Lost and Moby Dick.

Speaking of which, there's a new book on Melville's interpretation of Milton: Robin Grey, Melville and Milton, 2004 (not to be confused with Henry Pommer's Milton and Melville, 1950!).

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