David Bentley Hart

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David Bentley Hart in 2022

David Bentley Hart (born 1965) is an Eastern Orthodox theologian, philosopher, and cultural commentator. (See more at the David Bentley Hart bibliography.)



The Doors of the Sea (2005)

  • The secret irony pervading these arguments [on objections to the goodness of God] is that they would never have occurred to consciences that had not in some profound way been shaped by the moral universe of a Christian culture.
    • Chapter 1, Section 2, location 144
  • The cross of Christ is not, after all, simply an eternal validation of pain and death, but their overthrow. If all the tribulations of this world were to be written off as calculably necessary contributions to redemption -- part of the great "balance" of things -- then Christ's sacrifice would not be a unique saving act so much as the metaphysical ground for a universe of "sacrifice," wherein suffering and death are part of the sublime and inevitable fabric of finitude; and divine providence would be indistinguishable from fate.
    • Chapter 2, Location 666
  • There is a sense in which Ivan's love of that little girl [in The Brothers Karamazov] is always in danger of becoming a kind of demonic compassion: a desire that she not exist at all, a conviction that it were better she had never been summoned into the wounded freedom of cosmic time or called into rational union with God than she suffer the wrongs done her at the hands of fallen creatures.
    • Chapter 2, Location 740
  • Unless the world is truly set apart from God and possesses a dependent but real liberty of its own analogous to the freedom of God, everything is merely a fragment of divine volition, and God is simply the totality of all that is and all that happens; there is no creation, but only an oddly pantheistic expression of God's unadulterated power.

The Beauty of the Infinite (2003)

  • Christ is a persuasion, a form of evoking desire... Such an account [of Christ] must inevitably make an appeal to beauty.
    • p. 3
  • Beauty crosses every boundary, traverses every series, and so manifests the God who transcends every division.
    • p. 21
  • Creation's being is God's pleasure, creation's beauty God's glory; beauty reveals the shining of an uncreated light. … Creation is only a splendor that hangs upon that life of love and knowledge, and only by grace; it is first and foremost a surface, a shining fabric of glory, whose inmost truth is its aesthetic correspondence to the beauty of divine love. … It is delight that constitutes creation, and so only delight can comprehend it, see it aright, understand its grammar. Only in loving creation's beauty—only in seeing that creation truly is beauty—does one apprehend what creation is.
    • p. 252

Three Cheers for Socialism (2020)

  • Americans are, of course, the most thoroughly and passively indoctrinated people on earth. They know next to nothing as a rule about their own history, or the histories of other nations, or the histories of the various social movements that have risen and fallen in the past, and they certainly know little or nothing of the complexities and contradictions comprised within words like “socialism” and “capitalism.” Chiefly, what they have been trained not to know or even suspect is that, in many ways, they enjoy far fewer freedoms, and suffer under a more intrusive centralized state, than do the citizens of countries with more vigorous social-democratic institutions. This is at once the most comic and most tragic aspect of the excitable alarm that talk of social democracy or democratic socialism can elicit on these shores. An enormous number of Americans have been persuaded to believe that they are freer in the abstract than, say, Germans or Danes precisely because they possess far fewer freedoms in the concrete. They are far more vulnerable to medical and financial crisis, far more likely to receive inadequate health coverage, far more prone to irreparable insolvency, far more unprotected against predatory creditors, far more subject to income inequality, and so forth, while effectively paying more in tax (when one figures in federal, state, local, and sales taxes, and then compounds those by all the expenditures that in this country, as almost nowhere else, their taxes do not cover). One might think that a people who once rebelled against the mightiest empire on earth on the principle of no taxation without representation would not meekly accept taxation without adequate government services. But we accept what we have become used to, I suppose. Even so, one has to ask, what state apparatus in the “free” world could be more powerful and tyrannical than the one that taxes its citizens while providing no substantial civic benefits in return, solely in order to enrich a piratically overinflated military-industrial complex and to ease the tax burdens of the immensely wealthy?


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