Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An addition to our list of Modern Wise Men

Several months ago, we announced our list of the Ten Modern Wise Men. This is a list, in no particular order, of the humanoids we think have reached so high a level of intellectual and moral evolution that they deserve our reverence and attention. Indeed some of them have reached such a high evolutionary level of wisdom that they reject evolution altogether. But that is another story.

Here they are once again:
  • Leon Kass
  • Neil Postman
  • Ken Myers
  • Wendell Berry
  • Thomas Howard
  • George Steiner
  • William Barrett
  • Anthony Esolen
  • Jacques Barzun
  • Harold Bloom
Join me in beholding them for just a moment, in silence...

...

...These are men whose every utterance (well, with a few exceptions) we treat with almost sacred reverence. We even post here on this very blog whenever there is a public sighting of one them, or whenever a scrap of stray insight is detected.

Now, every once in a while--in the course of human events--it becomes necessary to add someone else to the list. Of course, it requires something very stupendous to warrant such inclusion, the kind of feat seldom witnessed among mortals. But every once in a while (only several times in a lifetime), someone achieves the status requisite for inclusion in our list.

Today, we announce such an event. The new addition to our list of Modern Wise Men is ... David Bentley Hart.

Hart has been battening on the doors of our Shrine to Wisdom for some time now. Indeed, he has been making a positive nuisance of himself, what with all of his incredibly insightful books and articles. In fact, our board of admissions (that's me) has felt set upon by the level and quantity of wisdom that has been emanating from his general direction.

But he really outdid himself in his recent "Nihilism and Freedom: Is There a Difference."

In consequence, we feel obligated to take the rare and sacred action of inducting him into our Modern Wisdom Hall of Fame.

Now some may ask, "Yes, but has he been properly vetted?" Just imagine, for example, that after after being selected, someone were to find that an inductee owed back taxes, or had employed an undocumented foreign servant, or had claimed to be able to see Russia from his house?

To this question our answer is simply that we do not have a vetting procedure for those selected for our list of Modern Wise Men. We consider that the state of enlightenment they have achieved precludes them a priori from this kind of culpability. We quite frankly wouldn't care if an inductee had never paid taxes, employed a whole army of captured slaves, and claimed to have been able to see Russia from the basement of his New Jersey home: Our inductees are engaged in much more important matters.

So now that we have inadvertently started a whole series of sleazy rumors about someone we started this post to honor, let us welcome the eleventh member our august team of Wise Men.
  • Leon Kass
  • Neil Postman
  • Ken Myers
  • Wendell Berry
  • Thomas Howard
  • George Steiner
  • William Barrett
  • Anthony Esolen
  • Jacques Barzun
  • Harold Bloom
  • David Bentley Hart

4 comments:

Ryan G. said...

I have become a big fan of Hart's work --- rarely has there been a theologian who can write so beautifully. If you have not read his "The Doors of the Sea," I strongly recommend it.

Ryan G. said...

Actually, I should amend that to "rarely has there been a modern, English-speaking theologian..." since there are plenty of good examples from the past.

tc said...

Hart's prose is impressive, but what's truly stunning is the range and depth of his expertise. His "Beauty of the Infinite" best demonstrates his developed theology and philosophy, and though it is quite challenging, it is more than worth the effort.

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