For Your Consideration
For Your Consideration
Interview: Matthew Lee Anderson, Perspectives on the Moral Life

Interview: Matthew Lee Anderson, Perspectives on the Moral Life

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It was my pleasure to interview Matthew Lee Anderson for our podcast last month. I’ll start with the usual introductory matters.

Matt is an Assistant Research Professor of Ethics and Theology at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion and the Associate Director of Baylor in Washington. He’s also an Associate Fellow at the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life at Oxford University, where he completed a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics.

As you’ll hear in the interview, Matt is the author of two books:  Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter To Our Faith and The End of Our Exploring. Matt is also the founder of Mere Orthodoxy, a site that has consistently published thoughtful, irenic, and theologically informed Christian writing for over 15 years. Moreover, Matt’s writing has appeared in Christianity TodayThe Gospel CoalitionThe Washington Post, and elsewhere. Finally, Matt’s newsletter, The Path Before Us, offers moral and theological analysis of contemporary culture and politics.

In our conversation, we ranged over a variety of topics, but I’d say that reflection on the moral life was a unifying theme. Below is an outline of the conversation with timestamps so that you can navigate your way to places of interest. I especially enjoyed our discussion of the role that literature can play in shaping our moral imagination beginning at the 40:34 mark.

1:54 — Matt’s vision for Mere Orthodoxy and the nature of writing online

10:20 — Earthen Vessels, issues related to the body

19:05 — The End of Our Exploring, the distinction between doubt and inquiry, and the art of asking good questions

28:13 — The work of theologian Oliver O’Donovan, author of Begotten or Made? and Resurrection and Moral Order

35:37 — The task of moral reasoning

40:34 — Literature and the moral life

51:33 — Shakespeare

1:01:47 — The value of memorization

We hope you enjoy this conversation. You can look forward to others like it in the coming weeks and months.


Michael Sacasas
Associate Director

Study Center Resources

Our Readings in the Christian Imagination reading group is now reading Alan Jacobs’s The Year of Our Lord 1943, which focuses on the work of five Christian intellectuals—C. S. Lewis, W. H. Auden, T. S. Eliot, Jacques Maritain, and Simone Weil—who, in the middle of World War Two, turned their attention to the question of education and the life of the mind. We will discuss the first half the book on Monday, October 26th over Zoom at 8:00 p.m.

The rest of our program is in full swing. Our Director’s classes are meeting via Zoom and in-person and our Dante group meets via Zoom on Wednesday afternoons. If you have any questions about taking part in these events, please email Mike Sacasas at

Recommended Reading

— Samantha Rose Hill explains why Hannah Arendt believed that loneliness could make individuals susceptible to totalitarianism.

‘Totalitarian solutions,’ she wrote, ‘may well survive the fall of totalitarian regimes in the form of strong temptations which will come up whenever it seems impossible to alleviate political, social, or economic misery in a manner worthy of man.’ When Arendt added ‘Ideology and Terror’ to Origins in 1958, the tenor of the work changed. The elements of totalitarianism were numerous, but in loneliness she found the essence of totalitarian government, and the common ground of terror.

— Earlier this year, Jay Parini reflected on his meeting with W. H. Auden:

"I've learned a little in my life," he said. "Not much. But I will share with you what I do know. I hope it will help."

He lit a cigarette, looked at the ceiling, then said, "I know only two things. The first is this: There is no such thing as time." He explained that time was an illusion: past, present, future. Eternity was "without a beginning or an end," and we must come to terms with what underlies time, or exists around its edges. He quoted the Gospel of John, where Jesus said: "Before Abraham was, I am." That disjunctive remark upends our notions of chronology once and for all, he told me.

I listened, a bit puzzled, then asked: "So what's the second thing?"

"Ah, that," he said. "The second thing is simply advice. Rest in God, dear boy. Rest in God."

For Your Consideration
For Your Consideration
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