Wittingly or not, philosophers have a lot to say about idolatry. Fredrich Nietzsche, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-Luc Marion in particular highlight modern philosophers’ penchant for rabid idolatry. Drawing upon Rene Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Emanuel Levinas and their susceptibility to and critique of, Bruce Ellis Benson focuses on our inability to overcome a conceptual idolatry pervading our thoughts.
The creation or reproduction, playing or spectating, writing or hearing, of music have all been proposed as the moment of making music. In contrast, the point of improvisation is when music is made. Instead of a philosophic how-to for music, Bruce Ellis Benson’s The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue examines phenomenologically the event of music. Past theories of music are analyzed and critiqued in order to reach the true moment where music is made. Improvisation, taking cues from jazz performance, more adequately contains music moment of being.
An edited volume by Bruce Ellis Benson and Norman Wirzba as part of Fordham University Press’ Perspectives in Continental Philosophy is an ecumenical phenomenological study in the religious activity of prayer. Prayer is multi-faceted, and so these essays are appropriately wide-ranging in their analysis while united in their singular interaction with prayer. The Introduction asks:
How could there be a vibrant religious life without the practice of prayer? In both theistic and nontheistic traditions, religious followers are generally counseled to steadfast prayer – to pray “without ceasing.” Without prayer, religious sensibility would likely atrophy and perhaps die. Yet what makes prayer so essential to a life of faith?
An edited volume by Bruce Ellis Benson, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, and James K. A. Smith draw Christian philosophers and theologians into a discussion about recent developments in hermeneutical studies and what this means for Christian interpretation of the Bible. “The Word” is of utmost importance in the Christian tradition, but how can Christians understand what it means? Developments both seemingly antagonistic and supportive of Christian belief in the phenomenological tradition, Frankfurt school, analytic tradition, and theology are examined by writers from just as many varied traditions. This is a landmark text for Christian approaches to hermeneutics.
Bruce Ellis Benson’s landmark work on Fredrich Nietzsche and the faith he expressed throughout his works. This work scandalizes those that simply wish to paint Nietzsche as the reason for the decay of Judeo-Christian Western culture and those who see Nietzsche as a harbinger of a newer, genuine atheism. Instead, Nietzsche embodies a unique faith that integrates his Christian Pietist upbringing, his rejection of the “Christian” part, and then an integration with a Dionysian faith. The similarities of these two ways of life are drawn together in Nietzsche’s life and thought. Bruce Ellis Benson seeks to bring out this less-than-obvious religious standpoint Nietzsche came to have.
An edited work by Bruce Ellis Benson and Norman Wirzba compiling works by a wide variety of authors. The editors and an international group of philosophers and theologians describe how various expressions of philosophy are transformed by the discipline of love. What is at stake is how philosophy colors and shapes the way we receive and engage each other, our world, and God. Here is an excerpt:
Rather than turning attention immediately to how reﬂection on love engages and transforms our world, this book focuses on how the practice of love engages and transforms our reﬂection. – Introduction
Evangelicals & Empire is an edited volume by Bruce Ellis Benson and Peter Goodwin Heltzel tasked with understanding and evaluating the use of empire in all areas of life through an Evangelical Christian mindset. An identification of Evangelical Christianity with one side of the political spectrum is readdressed by writers who identify themselves from a variety of theological perspectives. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s works, Empire and Multitude, are examined in particular for any value added to these Evangelical Christian coming-to-terms with empire.
Words of Life, edited by Bruce Ellis Benson and Norman Wirzba, is the sequel and companion to Phenomenology and the “Theological Turn,” edited by Dominique Janicaud, Jean-Francois Courtine, Jean-Louis Chrétien, Michel Henry, Jean-Luc Marion, and Paul Ricoeur. In that volume, Janicaud accuses Levinas, Henry, Marion, and Chrétien of “veering” from phenomenological neutrality to a theologically inflected phenomenology. By contrast, the contributors to this collection interrogate whether phenomenology’s proper starting point is agnostic or atheistic. Many hold the view that phenomenology after the theological turn may very well be true both to itself and to the phenomenological “things themselves.”
The inaugural volume for Wm. B. Eerdman’s series Prophetic Christianity, this edited work brings together fifteen contributors sharing their visions for a biblically centered, culturally engaged, and historically infused evangelicalism. Interacting with a wide variety of influential thinkers, they articulate several approaches to creating a socially responsible, gospel-centric, and ecumenical evangelical identity.
Bruce Ellis Benson explores how the arts inform and cultivate service to God, helping the church to not only think differently about the arts but also act differently. He contends that we are all artists, that our very lives should be seen as art, and that we should live liturgically in service to God and neighbor.