It’s been almost three months since the school year began, so unfortunately this blog post is a bit overdue, particularly when the outline of the “new things” has been sitting in a word document for a while at this point.
1. Personal Scriptural and Historical Study of Roman Catholic Doctrines
I’ve been interested in Roman Catholic theology for some time; this interest began in my natural intrigue in being able to defend my own Protestant convictions but has more recently grown as I’ve dialogued with some great people on these issues and also pondered the lack of Protestant retrieval when it comes to the early and medieval church. This summer, mainly as a result of conversations with friends at my legal internship, I spent lots of time working through doctrines or beliefs to which I don’t adhere (e.g., papal infallibility and the magisterium; Molinism; “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant”). I am still doing this work and also recently finished reading Surprised By Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic. Such extensive time spent on this topic since April means I’d probably have many edits (additions and removals) from the series of blog posts I wrote in the spring that are related to this topic.
I found Trent Horn’s material and podcast to be great and thought he was someone from whom it was easy to learn. More recently, Peter Kreeft has become a favorite of mine, and I have been particularly fascinated with his conversations with Matt Fradd (on the Pints with Aquinas podcast show). Additionally, I took a deeper dive into something I wish Protestants discussed more deeply as we consider having a biblical, deep, worshipful doctrine of God: divine simplicity, a necessary doctrine as we consider who God is (hopefully a blog post on divine simplicity will come at some point). I just finished Herman Bavinck’s one-volume systematic theology and will start reading the Summa (Aquinas) in the next month or so, for which there exists a two-year reading plan.
To learn about the Reformers’ and Protestant Scholastics’ engagement with Catholics, two must-follows are David Sytsma and Matthew Barrett.
2. Listening to the Huberman Lab Podcast
Almost every podcast to which I listen is Christian in nature (theology, sermons, etc.). There are only a couple exceptions, the foremost of which is Huberman Lab! Andrew Huberman, a lab director and neurobiology professor at Stanford’s medical school, does an incredible job educating the public on science. His episodes usually include a deep dive (in a fairly accessible manner) into the science behind the episode’s topic and then go into related useful applications of the science, highlighting interesting peer-reviewed studies along the way. One example application (that he often highlights) is the usefulness of being outside for ten or more minutes in the morning so that your eyes take in low-angle sunlight (without sunglasses, windows, etc. in the way—all of which make it basically ineffective). This low-angle sunlight greatly improves motivation, mood, alertness, proper sleep cycles, and cognitive function (correspondingly, one should ideally view low-angle sunlight in the evenings for its effects on sleep and body cycles). These episodes are usually over 90 minutes long (or way longer), but there’s a reason it’s consistently ranked the top health and fitness podcast and why I usually take notes. I don’t enjoy the three cold showers I take each week, but there are several health and performance benefits; for this new thing (listening to the podcast), learning new information means new protocols for me.
3. Reading Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry is a novelist, poet, and much more. I’ve been aware of him for quite some time but finally got around to reading a book of his—Hannah Coulter. His fiction reminds me a bit of some of Marilynne Robinson’s fiction, and I love the agrarian and reminiscing type of style or genre. Just like Matt Fradd’s conversations with Peter Kreeft (mentioned above), the slow and reflective style is relaxing. Our society would do well to consider what we lose with the emergence of smartphones and a less agricultural economy (or a less agrarian setup). Reading Hannah Coulter made me want to read The Art of the Commonplace, a collection of Berry’s agrarian essays.
4. Studying 1-2 Kings
I’ve always found Kings (one book originally) rather interesting and am enjoying studying through it. While House’s commentary is perhaps the most consistent and the first study supplement I would recommend, Leithart’s commentary is fascinating and gives lots of unexpected and unique food for thought.
The list of what stands out could go on and on: how paganism has its own liturgies (as does secularism today); the centrality of God’s nature in prayer (I think this is key to Solomon’s prayer in 1 Ki. 8); the role of the covenant blessings and threats from Leviticus and Deuteronomy (Lev. 26; Deut. 27-28) in all later OT books; the authority of God’s word through the prophets. And I’m sure this list will only grow as I get deeper and deeper in (currently in the second half of 1 Kings).
Favorite verse so far: 1 Ki. 18:21 —
And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”
5. Abegale Started Medical School
In July my wife started medical school at TCOM in Ft. Worth—it’s a blessing to be able to attend school in the same location (but we did long distance at OU and Texas Tech for three years in college as well). There isn’t much to say here except that I’m blown away at the workload. On average, it seems to be much more than what the average law school student does. Abegale is doing great. And I’m thankful that our doctors are well-trained.