Last week I hosted Biola University philosopher John Mark Reynolds as he delivered the 2009 Norton Lectures. As several of us talked about after, he seemed to be a combination of my friends Robert George, Greg Thornbury, and Mark Coppenger (that’s high praise from me, on all three counts).
The Norton Lectures were brilliant, in both content and delivery. I wish you could have heard the after-lecture conversations over meals around here (about everything from West Virginia-Mississippi comparisons to Plato to emo-whining worship music). I also had the great privilege of having someone far to the Right of me at the table. I learned I’m a “squishy moderate” because I’m one conservative who would have voted (had I been alive and coherent from the time travel) for FDR four times and Harry Truman once (What’s the alternative? Hoover? Landon? Willkie? Dewey? Please. And I still think the Marshall Plan and the TVA were pretty good ideas. Oh, and whipping Hitler and starting the beat-down on Stalin were both pretty good too). But that’s a digression.
The thing that I liked most about John Mark is that he’s not depressed or cynical or skeptical (except of the things that one ought to be skeptical about). He’s joyful and hopeful without being utopian. You can listen to his Norton Lectures at the Southern Seminary site. And here’s a piece John Mark wrote for the Washington Post’s faith page about his time at Southern, and other reasons he’s not wringing his hands about the future of Christianity.
It would be worth it if only for the line “deepest darkest Vermont.” Say, didn’t Vermont vote against FDR four times in a row?