Recent talks in the philosophy of religion

I’m taking a one week hiatus from my usual rantings and ravings to feature some recent talks from friends from whom I’ve learned a great deal. I encourage readers of the blog to take some time and treat yourself to these: they can give you a taste of the kinds of lectures and conversations that led me to philosophy, and ultimately to philosophy of religion. Joseph Almog and Howie Wettstein, both long time friends and teachers of mine, whom I’ve found over the years to be exemplary cases of philosophers who tackle the most difficult questions of philosophy without hiding behind walls of jargon and erudite references.


A Spinozian Job: On Stephen Mitchell’s Translation

God speaks from the whirlwind, by Walter Russell.
Reposted from

I used to think of the book of Job with the utmost contempt. You know, it’s that bit of the Bible where God torments poor Job to win a bet, and then bullies him into being damn well thankful for the favor. As for many people who’ve rejected Christianity, for me the book seemed to embody the worst aspects of religion. It seemed, that is, to be propaganda encouraging us to embrace our own domination and degradation—pawns to be manipulated by a cosmic thug, as well as by anyone who can dupe us into thinking that they wield his authority.

This was before my friend Howie Wettstein introduced me to Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the book. Since then, it’s become one of my favorite works of literature. This isn’t, however, because I’ve embraced Christianity or Judaism, or because I love it on its aesthetic merits alone. Rather, I see it as a text with deep religious significance, but of an unusual, Spinozian sort.

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