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Diogenes Allen

Diogenes Allen has died. He was a vital part of Princeton Theological Seminary and my own seminary education.

I learned from Dr. Allen many things: spiritual practices, philosophy, Kant, and the power of Simone Weil. His exacting approach to learning, teaching, writing, and speaking was challenging but immensely helpful. It was with his writing style (and lecturing style) that I was first exposed to communication that was both straightforward and profound. The sharpness of his mind and words meant he was free from jargon and abstruseness; he could be clear and direct, but still subtle and interesting. His masterful Philosophy for Understanding Theology is a great example of his style. He also explored literature in meaningful ways, showing me to regard George Herbert and T.S. Eliot with awe and appreciation.

Dr. Allen also exhibited a fearless willingness to explore neglected areas, such as the book of nature, spirituality, Simone Weil, and philosophy as a whole. He advocated for a rich encounter with philosophy, teaching an entire seminary course on Kant. He could be kind and harsh, often in succession; he did not tolerate fools gladly, but treated an honest person with grace and kindness.

I have used his Temptation video series (based on his book) many times in churches, and it has always been well-received. His ability to communicate powerful ideas simply yet profoundly is strongly present here, and it has resonated with youth and adults who are starved for such an encounter. This is a great testimony to his life and work, and he will be greatly missed.

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