November 2016

as well as:


January 2022


Copyright © 2017, 2022, Beert C. Verstraete


Preface:  Nov. 12, 2016

As I was nearing the end of writing my memoirs, I began to weigh in my mind the possibility of more non-academic writing and decided upon a series of short essays in which I would reflect on contemporary politics, society, culture, literature, and the Christian faith, a good part of this blended with personal experiences, of mine, whether recent or of long ago. You will not be surprised that the Greek and Roman classics often make their appearance. 

Anyone who has read my memoirs (which were meant only for family and friends and therefore privately printed) will probably feel at times a certain déja vu, but I hope that he or she will appreciate with me the fresh opportunity I have now to expand on what I wrote earlier. 

Much of what I have to say comes with the gravitas which is its due, but I will do my best to bring in the light touch as well. I love the clarion call, so terse and expressive at the same time, of the German Zeitgeist (“Spirit of the Age”), so I have included it in my title.  My intention was to start on this project almost immediately after I had finished my memoirs; however, for a while I was so absorbed by my anxiety over the outcome of the American presidential election, and then by the widespread response of dismay resulting from the election of Donald Trump, that I could not bring myself to make a start. 

Commiseration with friends about this state of affairs has truly cleared my mind and I am ready now. Literary inspiration has come above all from Michel Montaigne's Essays and Blaise Pascal's Pensées, but I certainly do not delude myself that my compositions will in any way approach the classic stature of these works.


                         To read "PENSÉES: THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS"

                             see PDF "PENSÉES" at the end of PDF "ESSAYS"

Table of Contents:

1.   A Jekyll and Hyde Trump?  A Transformed Trump?  

      A Possibly Encouraging Lesson from Roman History—with Postscript   


2.  Christmas Lights: “And the Light Shines in the Darkness”                                                                 

3.  Homo Deus: Man / Humanity as God

4.  Jacques Ellul (1912-1994):  A Thinker of “Curmudgeon Luddism”?                                                           

5.  The Triumph of Grace in Ellul's Confessional Theology

6.  On the Past Coming into Our View

7.  A Tale of Two Countries

8.  A (Very Short) Tale of Two Freeways

9.  Ecclesiastes and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius:  

     Two very different but not altogether dissimilar voices from Antiquity                                                                                                                   

10. Classical Greek and Judaeo-Christian Humanism Compared in Sophocles' Antigone and Psalm 8                                                                                                                                                                

11. A Dutch “Mountain,” Then and Now                                                                                                

12. Reflections on Vimy and Word War I—with Postscript                                                                                                             

13. The Coming of Spring in Catullus 46 and Horace Odes 1.4 and 1.9                                            

14. Highrise, Lowrise: Reflections on Contemporary Architecture                                                                                                                                   

15. From a Tent to the Met: Getting to Know Opera in My Own Slow Way—with Postscript                                                                                                                                                        

16. Memories and Reminders of Past Times in Amherst, Nova Scotia                                                                                                                                                                 

17. Theodor Fontane:  Getting to Know and Appreciate a Great German Novelist                                  

18. The Meaning of Jesus' Death                                                                                                                          

19. The Coming of a Dark Age in the Last Century, a Golden Age almost 2000 Years Earlier                  

20. A Vast Grey Sea


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