• The Allusivity of Grammar: Developing theory and pedagogy for linguistic aesthetics

      Sweetman, Robert; de Boer, Julia Rosalinda; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2018-01-11)
    • A Different Conversion by a Different C.S. Lewis: An Analysis of Surprised By Joy

      Sweetman, Robert; Knibbe, Stefan; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2015-05)
      C.S. Lewis is perhaps as well known for his life story as his literary accomplishments. Central to that narrative is his shocking conversion from atheism to Christianity. Despite this Surprised by Joy, Lewis's primary work on the subject, has not been the centre of a focused study. This thesis reveals that, prior to writing Surprised by Joy, Lewis developed a growing appreciation for how experiences and story factored in religious belief. Rather than focusing on arguments, Surprised by Joy tells the story of how Lewis came to terms with his fundamental experiences of the world. Tension between these experiences and his worldview drove Lewis onward until they were reconciled by his acceptance of The True Myth. Using Vollenhoven's Reformed Philosophy, I show the implications of Surprised by Joy: that the stories we feel ourselves to be living in circumscribe our experiences and knowledge, and that conversion involves coming to inhabit the biblical story.
    • From Cynical Reason to Spiritual Creativity: An Exercise in Religious Anthropodicy

      Sweetman, Robert; Dettloff, Dean; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2015)
      This thesis explores the cultural ideology of cynicism as identified and critiqued by Peter Sloterdijk, who describes cynicism as an "enlightened false consciousness" that is "universal and diffuse." As an ideology, cynicism perpetuates the conditions of unjust society, but it is impervious to criticism. Instead of further critique, the thesis suggests religious traditions can offer means of overcoming the enclosure of cynical consciousness. Chapter one outlines Sloterdijk's approach to cynicism, including its historical development. Chapter two considers cynicism as a problem of self-understanding and proposes religion reveals that human beings are malleable through practices and techniques. Chapter three looks at three such techniques--awareness, compassion, and creativity--and offers them as solutions to cynical consciousness. The thesis aims, overall, to offer a way of considering the continued relevance and possibility of religious traditions, practices, and techniques to a cynical society such that alternative self-understandings and alternative social configurations might be made possible.
    • The Rhetorical Roots of Radical Orthodoxy: Augustinian Oratory and Ontology in Milbank's Theopo(e/li)tics

      Sweetman, Robert; Van't Land, Andrew R.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2013-08-21)
      This thesis engages the controversial work of political theologian John Milbank in light of the conceptual tools developed by the classical rhetorical tradition (particularly Augustine, Cicero, and Aristotle). I respond to three key criticisms of Milbank's anti-foundationalist metaphysics by re-describing his project as philosophical rhetoric. Firstly, while Milbank's polemical stance is often criticized as being primarily negative, I argue instead that it serve his larger goal of positively identifying with two traditions: orthodox Christianity and Continental post-structuralism. Secondly, while Milbank's metaphysics is critiqued as undermining his metarhetorical anti-foundationalism, I argue that both discursive modes (and their epistemological, political, and aesthetic implications) account for one another in his work. Thirdly, while the aggressive style of Milbank's scholarship is often criticized as contradicting the content of his ontology of peace, I propose instead that Milbank attempts to use the power of discourse to promote the peaceful Christian mythos.
    • "Two Things at the Same Time": Fordoblelse in Kierkegaard's Writings

      Sweetman, Robert; Mackie, Carolyn J.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2014-11)
      The term fordoblelse—usually translated as “redoubling” in English—is found relatively infrequently in Kierkegaard’s corpus and has posed something of a puzzle for scholars. In this thesis, I trace Kierkegaard’s use of the term throughout his writings, seeking to determine the common ground between the rather disparate ways in which fordoblelse appears. I explore the relationship between redoubling and such major Kierkegaardian themes as indirect communication, paradox, and the constitution of the self, and I attempt to tease out the similarities and divergences between redoubling and two other Kierkegaardian terms, “repetition” and “reduplication.” Ultimately, I conclude that redoubling functions for Kierkegaard as a structural term that provides him with a vocabulary to describe the many paradoxes at work in Christian faith.
    • Unwrapping the Gift: Empty Notion or Valuable Concept?

      Sweetman, Robert; Polce, Jonathon Emil; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2016-05)
      The concept of the gift has received ample philosophical attention in recent decades. Thinkers such as Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Marion have been major contributors to the conversation philosophically. However, their conclusions around the gift -- while generating many fruitful notions -- leave the gift impoverished from our ordinary experience. Further, their reflections make it difficult to predicated giftedness of existence. This thesis argues for a need to rethink the gift along different lines which seeks to widen the gift in order to be able to predicate it of existence. In order to make such an argument, the ideas of Kenneth Schmitz on the gift are recovered. Schmitz argues for an understanding of giftedness that includes a notion of reciprocity and receptivity -- contra Marion and Derrida. It is this notion of receptivity that makes Schmitz' framework able to be predicated of existence. Existence, understood as gifted, opens up fruitful avenues for anthropology and ethics, as well as argues for a certain disposition towards reality that is centered in wonder and gratitude.