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Three Quick Announcements
none of any great moment
Quickly, before tomorrow’s posting—
The essay published in Leaves in the Wind in two parts under the title “Rules for Writers” also appeared in the Christmas edition of The Lamp under the title “How to Write English Prose.” It is available online at that journal’s webpage, which I discovered only because it was linked by Arts and Letters Daily. Since the format the magazine gave the article is rather attractive and the article appears there in its entirety in one place, it may be a convenient link for those who want to share it with others. (You might, after all. You never know.)
A clarification: There is an old and vexed question regarding the likelihood that Maximus the Confessor was a universalist. In my recent interview with David Artman regarding James Dominic Rooney’s haphazard (but energetic) attacks on what he imagines universalists believe, I asserted that Maximus’s system, whatever his final verdict on this topic might have been, is incoherent unless it is universalist in its final conclusions. I mentioned, however, that there is a single phrase in which Maximus floats the possibility of a soul entering into “ever ill-being.” Apparently, having missed this detail of my remarks, Rooney has posted that sentence somewhere on social media (or so I am informed) as if it were a proof-text disproving my point. It is not. For one thing, Rooney is unfamiliar with the critical questions surrounding Maximus’s at times frustratingly subtle understanding of the possible nature of “ever” and surrounding his metaphysics of this terrestrial (durative) age or aeon, the celestial Aeon of the angels and spiritual powers, and God’s eternity “beyond all aeons.” For another, Rooney is making one ambiguous phrase do a lot of work over against the voluminous evidence of Maximus’s theological reasoning (I offer here a link to a fine article by Mark Chenoweth that notes many—though not all—of Maximus’s strongest statements of universal salvation). And for yet another, my argument remains unchanged: Maximus probably was a universalist, this was almost certainly the issue on which he chose to maintain his famous “honorable silence,” but it scarcely matters because his whole system of theology is irresistibly universalist in its logic. So either he was universalist, or he was a better theologian than he was a believer. In any event, I here provide a link to a short recorded disquisition on the question of Maximus’s universalism by Jordan Wood, as well as an interview with Wood conducted by Larry Chapp that touches on many of the same matters. I also recommend a close reading of Maximus’s seventh Ambiguum for all those in need of unbelievably daunting Epiphany devotional literature.
Another clarification: Also somewhere among the social media exchanges occasioned by that interview, one of Rooney’s readers apparently expressed amazement that I allegedly spoke of humanity as belonging to the genos of God; the same reader even adduced a passage from Gregory of Nyssa as a refutation (though in that passage Gregory is talking about an entirely different issue and using the word genos for a completely different purpose). In any event, it was not I who made the claim. It was in fact the Apostle Paul, twice, as recorded in Acts 17:28-29. I do not know if he has a Substack page, but questions on this matter should be addressed to him.