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Loving God With Our Minds in Milton’s Paradise Lost

Perhaps there is no work of imaginative literature in all the Western canon more preeminently about loving God with our minds than John Milton’s Paradise Lost. This session will highlight three ways that Milton’s poem invites its reader to consider what it means to love God with our minds. Practically, the poem presents several vivid episodes which ask whether and when a mental act is a sin. Philosophically, the poem has a deeply Christian epistemology that challenges our enlightened liberal notions about intellectual freedom with the idea that our reasoning is limited by foundational assumptions we make about the world. In other words, “Believing is seeing.” Poetically, Paradise Lost invites us to identify with Satan to find his bitterness tragic and his unconquerable will heroic. This imaginatively leads us to the inevitable result of this rebellion – vileness must be embraced if we will continue in sin. That’s heady stuff, but students love it when presented in the right way. This session will focus on how to bring this famously difficult poem to life for our students so that it can become relevant to their spiritual and mental lives.