“Holy Innocents” and the Birth of Jesus

Jesus was born into a world of violence. A world where demented people kill innocent children. It’s right there in the infancy narrative of the first gospel (in the order in your Bibles). It’s easy to miss, because we don’t often focus on it in our telling of the Christmas story–understandably so. Matthew 2:16-18 tells [Read More...]

300 Million Guns and Counting

As the conversation invariably moved over to gun bans and gun control in the horrific wake of last Friday’s massacre, I recalled Jeff Goldberg’s piece in a recent Atlantic. There are 300 million guns already in the hands of Americans. Another 4 million new guns enter the market each year. The dog is off the leash [Read More...]

Re-Imagining Patronage

Gustave Courbet, The Source of the Loue, 1864. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York The over-heated art market, driven by insecure and short-sighted collectors, who, churning through the season’s aesthetic fashions to use art to leverage their cultural power, have produced an impatient and distracted art world incapable of separating artistic quality from auction house [Read More...]

Unspeakable Things

My heart is heavy and my prayers go out to those touched by the horrific events of today. Earlier today, I posted a bibliography of sources related to “perspectives on evil and suffering.” Then I learned about the tragedy in Connecticut. As one headline accurately read, “there are no words.” These are unspeakable things. The [Read More...]

Evil and Suffering: A Select Bibliography

This next quarter, I will be teaching one of my favorite courses: Perspectives on Evil and Suffering.  Here is a select bibliography that I will be offering to my students. These essays and books do not constitute, necessarily, the best on the topic, but the entire list is meant to provide a range of perspectives on a variety [Read More...]

Get a Free Book! (The Holy Nomad)

Not too long ago I participated in a Patheos book club discussion of The Holy Nomad, by Matt Litton. In my reflection, I noted that Litton’s book, in which he jolts us to find a little more joy for the journey, reminded me of the quest approach to the Christian faith: To me, that’s a natural (or [Read More...]

Church Without Meetings or Music

A local pastor who recently left his church to launch a food market where individuals are invited to sponsor hungry families with money that then enables them to purchase food at a market where the food itself has been donated. Part of the idea is to counter the humility of poverty with a little dignity [Read More...]

Art and Audience

A recent article in Humanities has caused me to give some thought to the audience for a work of art. An abiding criticism of so-called “serious” or “fine” art, like poetry and painting, is its elitism—only a small coterie of followers, most of them professor-types and intellectuals, seem to care. The audience for a painting or [Read More...]

Got a Ph.D. in Theology? Go Work for a Church

What to do with all these worthless Ph.D.’s in the humanities? The Chronicle of Higher Ed relays a speech given by Michael F. Bérubé to the Council of Graduate School, called “The Future of Graduate Education in the Humanities.” He offers up, in the words of the article’s title, a “sobering critique” of the state of the [Read More...]

Parachurch Craziness: Freedom at Tufts and Equality in Louisville

My Facebook feed is a-twitter with exclamations about the recent decision at Tufts University to allow an on-campus Christian group (Tufts Christian Fellowship) to “discriminate,” so to speak, in selecting its leaders. Back in October, Tufts’ Community Union Judiciary had implemented an “all comers” policy, which stated that any university-sponsored campus group could not discriminate, [Read More...]

Odds and Ends

    I’ve been doing some work beyond my weekly posts here at CULTIVARE and so I thought I’d share them with you: Over at ThinkChristian I used the occasion of a new book on Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper, to reflect on the continued importance of this painting. At Good Letters, the blog [Read More...]

Holy Discontent

In what has become an annual tradition with no connection to Elvis, churches around the country are sponsoring “blue Christmas” services aimed at people for whom the joys of the holiday season are elusive. Candles are still lit and ornaments hung, but they symbolize different things. For instance in one church, tree ornaments were pieces [Read More...]


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