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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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As the critical pendulum has swung to a new appreciation of religion and spirituality in the early-modern world, all sorts of critics have rushed to claim Shakespeare as their own. In his 1994 A Buddhist’s Shakespeare, James Howe tells of his personal journey to Buddhism and to new understanding. As he studied under an Indian teacher named Trungpa, Howe began to see Shakespeare’s plays differently: “Perhaps not coincidentally, they seemed to change in directions that paralleled the changes I could see in myself. Each time I congratulated myself on the achievement of a new level of wisdom, Shakespeare seemed already to have been there.”
In the 2007 Godless Shakespeare, Eric S. Mallin presents a Shakespeare who has “a mind and spirit uncontained by orthodoxy”; elements of Christianity appear in his work, but “Shakespeare activates these features in decidedly irreligious or ironic ways.”
Such eccentric variations aside, the recent reevaluation of Shakespeare’s religion has generated new understanding. Forbidden Catholicism often functions as a potent fund of myth, ritual, and assumption that enables conflict, inflects situations, and charges action and character. The evidence does not amount to a manifesto of the playwright’s personal belief or to a discursive body of dogma advocated either openly or secretly. But it does grow to something of great constancy, howsoever strange and admirable, and it does, to the confounding of some orthodoxies, have real presence.
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