Cuius regio, eius religio. “Whose realm, his religion.”
With this 1555 declaration, and on behalf of his brother Charles V—by the grace of God, Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King of Germany, King of Italy, King of all Spains, etc.—Ferdinand, King of the Romans, delayed a conflict that threatened to tear the continent apart. The Treaty of Augsburg offered the martialing princes of the Holy Roman Empire a settlement: Within their domains they would dictate religious life. Whether Catholic or Augustana confessing Lutheran, rulers and subjects would be united by faith and sword. But they would tolerate their neighbors. Later, in 1648, as the Peace of Westphalia brought over a century of European religious wars to a kind of close, this arrangement grew and spread and lay the foundations of modern religious pluralism.
Reuben drove six hours to see Jordan Peterson. He brought his mother. It’s his birthday present.
Reuben, “like the sandwich”—”or the patriarch,” I say, prompting a laugh of agreement—just finished his freshman year at a small Christian college. He’s maybe a bit above average height, thin, with an open, intelligent face. He has a mop of curly hair and is wearing a sensible plaid shirt. He’s studying something combining bits of business and engineering.
Josh Tillman has been praying in public under his haha-just-goofing-doesn’t-mean-anything-promise Father John Misty moniker for six years now, but never more openly than in his latest album, ‘God’s Favorite Customer’. The confessional is waiting and there are 10 lush songs to get through owning all the ways he’s made sacred love profane, with invitation for our souls to get naked, too. He’s hurt his wife, Emma; he has hurt himself; and, Jesus, the Almighty, He won’t leave Tillman the hell alone.
Let us begin in the Most Serene Republic of Venice. At its head sat the Doge, elected for life by an assembly that was itself produced by lots and votes cast by a lattice of bodies and councils.
Kanye West broke the already broken brains of Twitter yesterday when he indicated a certain degree of “dragon energy” sympathy for President Donald Trump and Trump agreed. He tweeted a picture of his signed MAGA hat, too, poo-pooed Obama’s legacy, and also expressed a desire to hang out with everyone’s favorite Tolkien-loving Bond villain, Peter Thiel. That’s just a bit of West’s hot content that prompted Rolling Stone to call his online activities “a real threat,” and he hasn’t let up.
Objection 1. It seems that a handful of Dominican friars (two handfuls on the album) should not be a bestselling bluegrass band. Bluegrass is Protestant stuff, soulful songs for whitewashed independent Baptist churches and big homey kitchens and not Latin nerds in white habits in Northeast D.C.
Directly after a rainbow flag flew in victory above the ramparts of American marriage law, it was borne into battle again. Transgenderism—till then the auxiliary partner in LGBT activism—took up the hexacolor to reenter the legal fray in its own cause.
An important part of my education began with a discussion of fairies. Before orientation at my small midwest liberal arts college, I overheard a professor who would become my mentor and friend complain of a student who confessed the existence of fairies and other nature spirits. His elfen creed was this student’s act of resistance to the world’s desacralization, a gesture of defiance at modernity’s disenchantment. My friend understood the sentiment, sympathized with this desire for Narnia, but objected on the rather Chestertonian grounds that creation was plenty miraculous and magical enough without Puck dancing in sacred groves. He objected as a Christian and as a scholar of the early modern. The novelist Marilynne Robinson, had she met the student, might have gently responded in much the same way for much the same reasons.
Jordan Peterson is fast emerging as something like the C.S. Lewis of our time. More than half a century on, he seeks to answer many of the same questions with like pastoral care, and his influence and audience, while not now as general as Lewis’s was in 1947 when he appeared on the cover of Time, is strikingly similar—people frightened by the events and cultural shifts of their time.
Americans will never tire of comparing America to Rome. Such comparisons are carved in stone in the foundations and facades of our capital, and only slightly more subtly in the construction of our country. Which is perhaps unfortunate for a scholar such as Kathryn Tempest, senior lecturer in Latin literature and Roman history at the University of Roehampton in London. What in England can be read rightly as an impressive and accessible work of academic biography, must here seem a mirror to our strange and troubled times. Such is the fate of Tempest’s excellent Brutus: The Noble Conspirator.