Highlights from the week online

The Devil is more than a symbol

In his column for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia website, Archbishop Charles Chaput told a story about the scholar Leszek Kołakowski. Kołakowski was giving a lecture at Harvard on “The Devil in History”. The mood in the room became restless: the distinguished audience “couldn’t figure out where he was going with his lecture”, Archbishop Chaput wrote.

“Present that day were the historians Tony Judt and Timothy Garton Ash. About 10 minutes into the talk, Ash leaned over to Judt and whispered incredulously: ‘I’ve got it. He really is talking about the Devil.’ And in fact, he was.”

Archbishop Chaput said the moment reflected “the little bigotries of our intellectual class”, who would like to forget that the Devil really exists. “Kołakowski (unlike some of our own Catholic leaders who should know better) was not using the word “Devil” as a symbol of the darkness in our own hearts, or a metaphor for the bad things that happen in the world. He was talking about the spiritual being Jesus called ‘the evil one’ and ‘the father of lies’ – the fallen angel who works tirelessly to thwart God’s mission and Christ’s work of salvation.”

The philosopher who challenged atheism

At firstthings.com, William Doino Jr celebrated the Protestant philosopher Alvin Plantinga, winner of this year’s Templeton Prize for his contribution to religious thought.

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