Showing posts from 2018

Credo ut intelligam

It is difficult to describe the crisis I have been living through these past several weeks. The drawing by my office door Short version : Don’t call out the Devil if you aren’t ready to bout .  Alternative short version : “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” —1 Corinthians 1:20 There has been much bitterness. There have been feelings of betrayal. There have been feelings of being lied to while watching people whom I thought were my supporters fall away. Friends warn me about overreacting. At which I overreact. “Academic freedom means nothing if the faculty do not stand up for it.” I believed that. Someone whom I have trusted my entire academic career told me that. I still believe it—but do my colleagues? “Any sufficiently advanced intelligence is indistinguishable from insanity.” I heard someone say that recently on his livestream. Someone whom my friends tell me I shoul

Who was the Lord whom Mary made it possible to see?

According to the psalms that medieval Christians sang nightly in her praise , the Lord her Son was a great God and a great king above all gods in whose hands were all the ends of the earth . . . for the sea is his, and he made it, and his hands formed the dry land (Psalm 94:3–5).  His name was admirable over the whole earth, and his greatness was exalted above the heavens, for he made man and set him over all the works of his hands (Psalm 8:2, 5–7).  He made a tabernacle for himself in the sun and as a bridegroom came forth from it like a giant, making a circuit of the heavens in his heat; his judgments were true, more desirable than gold and many precious stones, and there was great reward for his servant in keeping his commandments (Psalm 18:6, 10–12).  All the earth belonged to him, for he founded it upon the seas and prepared it upon the rivers, and his holy place was upon the mountain, whose eternal gates he entered as the King of glory, strong and mighty, the Lord of hosts

“Satan, be gone!”

This is the last post I wanted to write, but it has become clear that if I do not write it, I will never write anything else. So here goes. This time last year I was preparing my file to submit to my department in expectation of being promoted to full professor. I probably don’t need to say any more, you can all check my title on the department web page now—go ahead , I’ll wait—although as one benefit, as part of the review process I did have to write statements about my research and teaching which I have posted on my academic home page as introductions to my method and goals. I got the news—I kid you not—on Friday the 13th. In April. Seven months ago. Since when, I have been living a lie. Or a half truth. Or...oh, fuck it, it sucks. Because it is nonsense, of course. I deserve to be promoted to full professor. I have published a second major monograph  with a prestigious academic publisher (our standard in the department, barring an outside offer from another unive

Wheel of Sevens

A medieval device for training the soul in prayer. London, British Library, Arundel 83, fol. 129v This wheel contains seven rings, one depending on the other. Through the first the second is gained; through the second the third, and so with the others by reading between each pair of radii.  The first ring of this wheel contains the seven petitions of the Lord’s prayer. The second ring contains the seven sacraments of the Church. The third ring contains the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The fourth ring contains the seven spiritual weapons of the virtues. The fifth ring contains the seven corporeal and spiritual works of mercy. The sixth ring contains the seven principal virtues. The seventh ring contains the seven criminal vices. Begin to read at the P and complete the readings that are contained between each two radii. 1. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Here we pray to become sons of God the Father. Through this is given baptis

Lies, Damn Lies, and the Washington Square News’ Use of Evidence

What do you do if you are a student or professor at one of the nation’s top universities  faced with the prospect of a speaker coming to your campus to talk about the importance of costumes and why “cultural appropriation” is simply the way art works , and—assuming that you even know what he is going to be talking about—you panic because you have no way of countering his arguments with fact, logic, reason, or even the semblance of academic rigor? Easy, if you are at NYU. You call him names—“ ‘alt-right’ leader ,” “white nationalist,” “white supremacist”— and you virtue signal about how hard it is to write about him, pointing to his “racism” and “anti-Semitism,” in proof of which you cite his marriage to a black man (Milo is white) and the fact that he has mentioned that his grandmother was Jewish. You insinuate that he is friends with a man known to hate him . You suggest on the basis of no evidence whatsoever that his public and private comments have put people in danger.

An open letter to the faculty advisory board of the NYU student newspaper on the lies told about Milo Yiannopoulos in its reporting

To : Yvonne Latty,  Clinical Professor of Journalism Meredith Broussard , Assistant Professor of Journalism Nanci Healy , Assistant Director of the Center for Student Life Re : The recent coverage in the Washington Square News  of Professor Michael Rectenwald’s invitation for Mr. Milo Yiannopoulos to speak to his class on Halloween Dear Colleagues, I read with interest the statement published today by the WSN Editorial Board on their coverage of Milo Yiannopoulos . I understand from the WSN statement of ethics that the students take sole responsibility for the editing of their work, but I am concerned that their statement contains a number of libels against Mr. Yiannopoulos presented as facts in support of their coverage. The student editors have also seen fit to run an opinion piece by Ms. Abby Hofstetter which contains an even larger number of libels. As someone who is well-acquainted with Mr. Yiannopoulos’s public statements, I write to draw your attention to these li