Saturday, March 19, 2005

Friday Links

I've noticed that other bloggers will often put up a post on Friday with a round-up of other posts they have seen during the week that are worth sharing. Maybe I'll start that someday, too, but for now I think I will focus on highlighting other interesting sites as I did last week (although I am desperately hoping it doesn't include the same heart-rending Blue Screen of Death).

Just today I ran across the blogs of Professor James K.A. Smith (or "Jamey Smith" as I've heard him called). Dr. Smith teaches at Calvin College in the Philosophy department; he got his Ph.D. at Villanova and is a specialist in philosophical theology, contemporary French philosophy and aesthetics and has special strengths in Radical Orthodoxy. His books include (but are not limited to): Speech and Theology: Language and the Logic of Incarnation (Routledge, 2002), and Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology (Baker Academic, 2004).

He has two blogs, as it turns out. The first he describes as a hybrid of an annotated bibliography and book reviews. It is called, naturally, What I'm Reading.

His second blog is called, improbably, Fors Clavigera. He explains the title, saying:
The title, "Fors Clavigera," comes from one of my heroes, John Ruskin, who published a series of monthly letters under this title from 1870-1878, and then more randomly from 1880-1884. The letters, as the subtitle indicated, were addressed "to the workmen and labourers of Great Britain." Their polemic contained, in occasional form, the core of Ruskin's social vision for community founded on participation rather than competition--part of what was more broadly described as "Christian socialism." Ruskin was driven to this work, from his more theoretical labors at Oxford, out of a sense that he couldn't live with himself if he didn't do something. Indeed, as his editor puts it, Fors Clavigera was the payment of a ransom: an effort to secure some peace for his conscience amidst all the "material distress" he saw in the culture surrounding him.

It is the occasional, from-the-hip nature of Ruskin's Fors that seems especially fitting for a blog; indeed, we might suggest that Ruskin's monthly letters constituted a proto-blog. Rather than seeking to write a "system," as he put it, he chose the title Fors "to indicate the desultory and accidental character of the work." It was a space in which he could discuss "any matter which chanced to interest him."

That is a sensible beginning to what promises to be a stimulating blog.


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