Authenticating Ourselves to Death

"The only transcendence that remains is that of oneself over oneself, that of an authentic ego over an inauthentic one" --Luc Ferry, Man Made God. J.D. Salinger may be the quintessential American author of the "authentic." His most well-known character, Holden Caulfield, is obsessed with a "phony" world in which no one values innocence and sincerity, where people love bad movies and ignore true moments of beauty. This obsession has been the source of derision and popularity for The Catcher in … [Read more...]

On the Anniversary of His Execution, What Can We Learn From the “First Martyr of Science”

On February 17th, 1600 A.D., Giordano Bruno, a Dominican priest, philosopher, and mathematician, was condemned as a heretic and burned at the stake by the Roman Inquisition. Among his heresies was the belief in an infinite number of worlds (similar to what physicists today call the multiverse hypothesis). In more recent times, Bruno has become somewhat of a patron saint of atheist and free thought groups, who gather each year at the statue commemorating his death in Rome. Some have even heralded … [Read more...]

Science: It’s Worth Doing Badly

A younger student of mine recently remarked, “No one can be good at everything, because then they would fail at failing.” If she had been in my Logic class, I would have given her extra credit for that little gem, but it was Science. And the reason failure was on her mind was because her experiment didn’t yield the results she wanted. She felt like a failure and was trying to comfort herself with a witty proverb.Failure has been on a lot of people’s minds lately, in both theory and practice. … [Read more...]

The Surprising Parenting Problems of Unlimited Screen Time

By Jamie O'DonnellTelevision and video games have been my arch enemies in parenting, and though they're amoral things, it’s really bothered me that they’ve stolen so much of my kids’ attention. Consequently, they’ve become the focus of many battles. The boys especially seem to have zeroed in on them, and the other exciting things in our world have faded into the background. Again, amoral things, neither good nor bad. So why, then, is my gut reaction to “Can I play/watch something?” disappoint … [Read more...]

Virtual Choices, Real Effects: The Impact of Our Hyperlink Trail

“...we always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.” —Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag ArchipelagoRobert Frost’s most recognizable poem is probably his most misunderstood. Despite popular opinion, “The Road Not Taken” is not an anthem to the individual or a smug reflection on the speaker’s decision-making acumen. Rather, it’s a meditation on time, mortality, and finitude. It’s about human limitations. Two roads diverge but only one can be taken. At the crucial decision point, Frost may … [Read more...]

#Instagrown: In an Age of Instantaneous Everything, What Happens to Adolescent Yearning?

Adolescence is a matter of restlessness. It is a churning, writhing cesspool of desire. No, not that kind of desire - not entirely. Mostly, it is the recognition of this pull toward adulthood, the acknowledgment that something is ahead, above, beyond what has already been known and experienced. That elusive something seems bound up in money, making out, and mystery, with a little flash and smoke. The hallmark of this formative chapter is that maturity, adulthood, that something, is close enough … [Read more...]

The Violence of Fantasy Football

by Cray AllredThe sport of football faces an uncertain future. More and more research is revealing the dangers concussions pose to the brain, lawsuits from former players are seeking billions of dollars in damages from the NFL, and parents are increasingly hesitant to allow their children to participate in youth football. Christians have even begun wondering if the violence inherent to the sport makes fandom problematic, since we’re supposed to value the human body over gladiator-style e … [Read more...]

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham: Continuing Our Long American Tradition of Spectacle and Culture War

In 1925, the people of Dayton, Tennessee arrested a young science teacher, John Scopes, for teaching the theory of human evolution in public school. They dragged him from his classroom and threw him in jail to await trial. The town leaders called in the well-known biblical literalist and politician William Jennings Bryan to face off against famous (agnostic) defense attorney Clarence Darrow in “the trial of the century,” and to help ensure Scopes’ conviction. The trial created a national fires … [Read more...]

11. Netflix and Hulu: “A Relative Amount of Creative Freedom” #CaPC25

All this week, the writers of Christ and Pop Culture unveil their 25 most loved things of 2013.  Previous #12: Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang #11: Netflix and Hulu What do #8, #9, and #17 on our list have in common? All of them exist (in the U.S. at least) solely on the internet via either Netflix or Hulu, streaming video services that have expanded their original vision from letting us watch existing television programs to creating original programming. You can’t watch House of Cards o … [Read more...]

The Ancients are Coming: Medieval Texts at Your Fingertips

As a church historian, I am not ashamed to bring my Bible to church. Usually it’s one of those compact ones (my favorite one that’s traveled around the world with me), but more recently—I’ll admit it—the Bible app on my cell phone. Nevertheless, I’m always cognizant that there was a time in history when holding a Bible in church, and reading the text for oneself, was not a possibility for most people, even the clergy. It was not until the Reformation, and then also the breakthrough technology of … [Read more...]