Thursday, December 20, 2012

Brad Jersak's book, George P. Grant: Minverva's Snowy Owl -- Essays in Political Theology, is now available for download at:

Table of Contents
Preface / 1


1. George Grant’s Conversion Accounts / 5
2. Simone Weil’s Encounter with Christ in Marseilles / 13
3. Grant’s McMaster Sermon / 17


4. Sprouts of Modernity in Medieval Theology / 23
5. Blooms of Modernity in the Reformation and Calvinist Puritanism / 37
6. The Autonomous Subject: Knowing as Willing in Descartes, Bacon and Kant / 49


7. Etymology of Nous / 65
8. Heidegger’s Eckart / 81
9. Weil’s Mystical Ascent / 85


10. God the All-Powerful, All-Powerless / 111
11. Consent as Coercion / 123


12. Grant’s Rhetorical Method / 131
13. Christ at the Checkpoint / 141


14. Previously Unpublished Letters and Journal Entries / 151
15. Reading Simone Weil: Unpublished Excerpt / 199
16. Dalhousie Classnotes on Plato / 201
17. Robin Mathews: The Wave of the Future / 211
18. Grant’s References to Martin Luther’s Thesis 21 / 213


19. Grant’s Readings in Weil: French and English / 219
20. Beyond Dualism: Correspondence with Radical Orthodoxy / 221

Abbreviations / 227
Bibliography of Sources Consulted / 231 

Stephen Leacock and George Grant: Anglican Red Tories with Ron Dart

Thursday, September 6, 2012

This Essay is ‘Not My Own’ by Jordan Todd

This Essay is ‘Not My Own’
A Summary Essay Regarding
George Grant: Metaphysics and Modernity
Jordan A. Todd


He has been called one of the most important Canadian public philosophers[1], a Christian renaissance humanist who drew from many Western and Eastern theological, philosophical and political traditions.[2] George Grant was a holistic and contemplative thinker who would critically consider certain traditions and their proponents. Though much has been written about his life and work, Grant’s Christian faith and how it influenced his thought has been given the least attention. Perhaps this fact is a testament to Grant’s critique of the modern university – that, “if a Christian spoke frankly in a modern multiversity, he would have to leave”.[3] His biographer, William Christian even went as far as to call Grant’s ‘born again’ (conversion) experience the most fundamental experience of Grant’s life[4], making it even more unbelievable that Grant’s faith has been so overlooked.

In this brief essay, the connection between Grant’s work and his faith – his understanding of God and the universe – (what is referred to here as his ‘metaphysics’) will be commented on. It is important to note, however, that in no way will the true depth of his mind, heart, and soul be adequately explored in this short attempt. There is a vast amount of Grant’s thought not even referenced here, and what is discussed is but a shadow. This being said, the goal here is to make some connections, to highlight some themes that are carried through Grants most famous work, themes which take root in his faith. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review of Brad Jersak's George P. Grant: Minerva's Snowy Owl -- by Ron Dart

Review of Brad Jersak, George P. Grant: Minerva’s Snowy Owl: Essays in Political Theology (FWP, 2012).

Only when the dusk starts to fall
does the owl of Minerva
spread its wings and fly

Owl-for-webGeorge Grant is, without much doubt, one of Canada’s most significant public intellectuals, philosophers and theologians. He has dared to ask questions that few have, and he has ventured into territory that even fewer dare go. Grant was a creative thinker who sought to interpret and apply the fullness of the Western and Eastern Traditions to the plight and problems of the 20th century. He was, in short, like the philosophic owl of bygone days---wise, and as Jersak rightly notes in the title of collected essays, a snowy white owl-----pure in his longing and quest for wisdom.

The subtitle also speaks much about the recently published book by Jersak------it is a series of ‘essays in political theology’. There has been a silly tendency to separate theology and political philosophy by some----such were and are the prejudices of much of modernity---Grant never did this, and Brad, faithful to Grant does not do this.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Some personal Meditations on Aboriginal Day (June), and July first, 2012. Henk Smidstra

Two hundred years ago, on June 1, 1812, United States President, James Madison, declared war on England and its North American Colonies. Now from a 200 year old perspective, 2012 is going to be a reflective and patriotic year in Canada as it goes down memory lane to revisit the events, meaning, and impact, of this war on Canadian identity as a nation. In 1812, the conquest of New France in1760 by England was still a recent painful memory for those living in Lower Canada; for those in Upper Canada, the majority, as Tories, had chosen to remain loyal to Britain during the American revolution of 1776, and had, as Empire Loyalists, emigrated largely to the area we call Ontario today, and to the Maritimes. The war of 1812 involved what existed then, Lower and Upper Canada, (Quebec and Ontario) and the Maritimes. Now scant decades after these social political dislocations and migrations, the death and destruction by American militia type incursions into Canadian Communities around the great lakes affected both English loyalists and French Canadians, and a deepened sense of Canadian identity was forged.  Some Canadian historians have identified the war of 1812, more than the loyalist migration from revolutionary United States, as being the significant beginning of Canadian nationalism (Mac Kirdy, Moir and Zoltvany, 1971, p. 117). But read any Canadian History book and you will likely not hear much of the war’s effect on, or participation of, First Nations peoples.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Julia Haslett's 'An Encounter with Simone Weil' - Review by Bethany Swallow

Simone Weil, a French-woman born in the twentieth century remains a hidden treasure among many philosophers of her time. Her works, published after her death, contain jewels of contemplative, spiritual, pedagogical and political insights. More recently, Weil has emerged as an icon of peace, with many recognizing her immense wisdom and strength. Director Julia Haslett is one such admirer who was featured in Vancouver's Doxa Film Festival held this past May. Her documentary, “An Encounter with Simone Weil” (2010) tells Haslett’s own journey of suffering, while attempting to interact with the inspirational, yet tragic life of Simone Weil. Haslett draws her viewers to the life of Simone Weil through personal and historical narrative, and helps each to wrestle with the truths of suffering on an individual and global scope.

            Julia Haslett’s artistic and personal efforts are undeniably honorable in this film; despite this, “An Encounter with Simone Weil” leaves somewhat of a bitter taste in the viewer’s mouth. The film is more about Haslett’s experiences of suffering, longing and questioning, rather than the tremendously enigmatic life of twentieth century philosopher, educator and peace-activist Simone Weil. Haslett explores larger questions such as, “How do we respond to human suffering?” or “How do we remain engaged without ultimately destroying ourselves?” Yet, I felt somewhat dissatisfied with her limited interaction around questions such as “How do we become more whole beings?” and “How does faith inform action?” Of course, my own journey leads me to these mysteries of life, and I honor Haslett’s pursuit of her own personal understanding, despite feeling disappointed at the narrow scope of her exploration into Simone Weil. With very little recognition in the discipline of philosophy since her death, Simone Weil is boldly celebrated in this film, becoming a beacon of mystery and inspiration for not only Haslett, but also viewers alike. I respect Haslett’s attempt to treasure Simone Weil in this documentary. I join with her in her efforts to make Simone Weil known to others, hoping that Weil’s life may offer wisdom, truth and hope for our fragile world.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

George P. Grant: Minerva's Snowy Owl -- by Brad Jersak

George P. Grant: 
Minerva's Snowy Owl (2012)
Essays in Political Theology
by Brad Jersak
Fresh Wind Press
$22.95 (files available for pdf, epub, or Kindle - $11.95)
Order by email:
freshwind @

This work is a collection of supplementary essays and primary sources cited in Brad Jersak's thesis, We are not our own: the Platonic Christianity of George Grant (Bangor, Wales).

It includes 32 previously unpublished journal entries, letters, and classnotes from Grant's archives.  

Table of Contents

Red Tory, Red Virgin: Essays on Simone Weil and George P. Grant -- by Brad Jersak

Now available from Fresh Wind Press
Red Tory, Red Virgin: 
Essays on Simone Weil and George P. Grant
by Brad Jersak

(pdf available @ $11.95)
Order by email:
freshwind @

In this work of essays, Brad Jersak continues the explorations on Grant and Weil begun in two other works, GPG: Canada's Lone Wolf  (2011, with Ron Dart) and GPG: Minerva's Snowy Owl  (2012). These three works form a trilogy of research that interdepends as primary and supplementary research alongside his PhD thesis (Bangor University, Wales), "We are not our own: the Platonic Christianity of George Grant -- from the Cave to the Cross and back again with Simone Weil."

Table of Contents


1. Simone Weil: George Grant’s Diotima / 5
2. Stages of Weil’s Mystical Ascent / 19
3. Competing Conceptions of God in Biblical Religion / 49


4. Grant and the Matrix: Complex of Ideologies / 71 
5. Grant and the Matrix: Dialogue Partners / 75 
6. Finding His Voice: Conversion to Lament / 83


7. Wrath and Love as Divine Consent / 109

Abbreviations / 123 
Bibliography of Sources Consulted / 127

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wrath and Love as Divine Consent -- by Brad Jersak

Wrath and love as divine consent
by Brad Jersak

“God does no violence to secondary causes in the accomplishment of his ends.”[1]

In this article, I will attempt to creatively apply George Grant’s theology of the Cross or ‘divine consent’ towards a metaphorical reading of wrath back into those Scriptures that so repulsed him and Simone Weil. If God operates in the world by consent, they might have seen wrath, not as the retribution of a wilful God, but as a metaphor (as they saw power) for the consequences of God’s consent to our non-consent. That is, I will appropriate Grantean consent to ‘demetaphorise’ wrath.        
Said another way, I intend to apply Simone Weil’s ‘cosmology of consent’ to the problem of how we read ‘wrath’ in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. The texts where God intervenes with smoldering vengeance were an offense to Grant and Weil as they portray a God of personal wrath through violent force—the willful uber-Gott (my term) they rejected. Grant and Weil warn us not to literalize metaphors or personalize anthropomorphisms, only to dismiss many of those passages for speaking metaphorically. Why not apply their theology of the Cross and cosmology of consent as a hermeneutical lens for demetaphorising the Bible’s judgment narratives, and so retrieving them?[2]

And so, in the Bible, where we see or hear of God’s wrath, we are usually, actually seeing God’s nonviolent consent to the natural and supernatural forces of the world and of human freedom. God’s wrath is consent to allowing, and not sparing, the powerful consequences of these forces to take their course. We say natural and supernatural, because (a) God’s order of secondary causes extends beyond our empirical or rational categories, and (b) the natural and supernatural interrelate beyond observation or comprehension. And they mysteriously inter-relate with our own power of consent to ‘bind and loose’ (Matt. 16:19) through love and prayer, to intercede in ways that might spare someone the consequences of these ‘laws.’

The following is a Grantean attempt to do so, specifically as I would address it sermonically to Evangelicals,[3] who tend to be most entangled in literalism, though it might also be beneficial to skeptics who, like Grant and Weil, find the Bible repulsive because they too read it overly literally. I will also apply Grantean consent to model how one might preach a love above and beyond wrath, where “mercy triumphs over judgement” (James 2:13).

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Nicholas Wolterstorff and George Grant -- by Henry Smidstra

In response to my review of Nicholas Wolterstorff’s book, Justice: Rights and WrongsJustice: Rights and Wrongs Ron Dart asked how this book compares to, or differs from, George Grant’s book, entitled English Speaking Justice, 1974. That will take some effort at recall, as it has been a while since I read Grant’s book. I thank Ron for asking that question in that it is making me realize the amount of work I still need to do to grasp the justice and human rights issues, especially Grant’s critique of contractual justice (contractarian, the “social contract” concept) of liberal democracy. Wolterstorff does not address the topic of the social contract. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The George C. Nowlan Lectures - by Braeden Wiens

Braeden Wiens                        The George C. Nowlan Lectures
            George Grant has many memorable lectures but perhaps the most interesting is the series of lectures he did at Acadia University in October 1969. At this point in his life Grant was still extremely well versed in the area of philosophy and politics. Grant brings the importance of the two aspects merging as one forth throughout the lecture as a focal point. The most important aspect of politics and perhaps the most negative is the areas of ideologies and only through an understanding of philosophy can politics truly flourish.
            Grant starts the lecture off by describing the relation between politics and philosophy. This relationship is described through the practice of politics and the thought of politics (Grant, 2005). By bringing forth three questions the topic is broadened. What is thought?  What is practice?  And what is politics are three questions that bring forth an understanding of how these two areas interact. Before delving into answers it is considered by Grant to be of great importance to explain the difference between state and society. Within society there are facts that cannot be explained by the state and vice versa. Through the separation of the two and having them work functionally in a community is the true definition of the polis (Grant, 2005).

Early Grant Influence - by Braeden Wiens

Braeden Wiens                                    Early Grant Influence

            George Grant is one of the greatest Canadian philosophers to have lived.  His intricate work on what Canada was and where Canada is going has lead to incredible advancements in philosophy and politics.  However, this great thinker was no different than any other man at a young age. Throughout his publications it is apparent that there was a shift in thought that lead him to become the author and thinker that we see today. Several of his works from the 30’s on culminating in the achievement of Lament for a Nation will be looked at and the progression of development that caused this change will be looked at.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Stephen Leacock and George Grant: Faith and Politics by Ron Dart

Stephen Leacock was perhaps the greatest English Canadian intellectual of his generation.
Damien-Claude Belanger

George Grant was Canada’s most significant public philosopher.  Graeme Nicholson

Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) and George Grant (1918-1988) were men of deep religious faith and passionate about politics. Both men were firmly rooted and grounded in the Anglican tradition, were committed to the classical Canadian conservative political vision and were prominent professors at public universities and in public life. These men did not retreat into private institutions to protect a fragile faith that could not stand up to the challenges of serious and substantive intellectual thought.

Leacock and Grant: Anglicans for all seasons - by Ron Dart


Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) is a Canadian icon, and most know him as our national court jester. Laughter does hold both its sides when Leacock’s many short stories are read and pondered. Fewer Canadians know that Leacock was a political economist, and he taught at McGill University until he retired in 1936. In fact, Leacock’s best selling books were more in the discipline of political science rather than his many collections in the genre of humour. But, fewer still know that Leacock was a committed Anglican, and, in many ways, he was the most public and best known Anglican in the history of Canadian political, literary and religious life.

Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912) and Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich (1914) are Canadian literary classics, and it is impossible to miss Leacock’s  Anglican and political  vision in these memorable missives. Leacock never flinches from asking hard religious, economic and political questions in these tracts for the times, but his satiric and critical bite is always tempered with plenty of humour and kindness. Leacock was as willing to doubt the dogmatism of liberalism as he was the reactionary nature of much conservatism. He did, in thought, word and deed, embody a subtle and nuanced via media.