The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
David Skeel is one of my favorite law professors for his writing on bankruptcy (and literature, for that matter) and one of the truly good guys in this business. He is one of the leading bankruptcy scholars of recent decades. I have reviewed two of his books, Debt's Dominion (which I reviewed here) and his book on Dodd-Frank, The New Financial Deal (reviewed here).
His latest book, however, is a completely different vein: "True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World."
I have a new review of David's new book at the Law and Liberty blog, "A Paradoxical Assent." Here's the intro:
Christian apologetics-and, one suspects, arguments generally-can take two basic forms: they can be directed toward trying to persuade others of the truth of one's position or they can be self-reflective, focusing on arguments that one finds personally persuasive and to explain one's personal conviction as to why one argument is more persuasive than another. In True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of our Complex World, David Skeel, the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at Pennsylvania Law School, has written a book that is an exemplar of the latter.
Rather than seeking directly to persuade the reader of the truth of Christianity, Skeel's apologia instead reads like a journey through Skeel's mind as he comes to try to explain (rather than justify) how he came to believe in Christianity. In this sense, Skeel's book has many of the hallmarks of classical Christian apologies such as C.S. Lewis's Surprised by Joy, by representing an intermingling of his own personal journey of faith with an effort to explain it to others. And by pointing to the experiences that Skeel experienced as pivotal during that journey, he hopes to bring along the reader with him.
Skeel seeks to distinguish efforts that attempt to persuade others by pointing to objective facts of the world and marshaling evidence for or against a particular position. Instead, Skeel focuses on what he calls the experience of life, a foundation that seems vague and subjective at first glance, but which Skeel identifies as marked by universal yearnings of the human soul and that these universal yearnings and their satisfaction are best explained by the role of God in our world and souls. In short, Skeel argues that neither advocates for or against religion consider the core of Christianity's appeal-that it offers a more truthful and fulfilling understanding of what it means to be fully human and to flourish than any other alternative, whether secular or other religious traditions.
Read the whole thing, as the saying goes. I found the book to be thoughtful, intelligent, and wise. As I say at the outset, I prefer books in this vein, which seek to explain why one finds such arguments persuasive, rather than making arguments purportedly designed to persuade others.
Update: It appears that there was a glitch with attempting to post this earlier. My apologies for the confusion.