In Search of an Authentic Faith: Freud, Kierkegaard and Beck’s “New Apologetic”

In Richard Beck’s recent book, The Authenticity of Faith, he considers whether a truly authentic faith is possible. Freud had dealt a heavy blow to Christianity by offering up scientific explanations for what motivates religious belief. Believers are drawn to religion because it functions to repress our existential anxieties. Afraid of death? Don’t worry, there’s an afterlife. [Read More...]

Why Something?

Jim Holt’s new book, “Why Does the World Exist?, tackles the most basic question we humans could ever contemplate: why is their something instead of nothing? It’s the most perplexing challenge for philosophers and scientists alike (“We are at least five Einsteins away from answering that question.”). For Christians, the perplexity provides ironic comfort. The best answer [Read More...]

Art and Explanation

Susan Sontag has a point. In her well-known essay, “Against Interpretation” (1966), Sontag argues that the classical mimetic theory of art has created an unnecessary distinction between form and content, which modern (and now postmodern) theories have merely intensified. Interpretation presumes that art must have content that can be extracted for use outside the work. [Read More...]

Beach Volleyball’s Boys and Babes

We have been periodically watching the Olympics over the last week.  I particularly like watching beach volleyball.  I am a beach aficionado  but not nearly in the same ways as these amazing athletes.  The sand is apparently 18 inches deep at the venue at the Horse Guard Parade in London.  Oh, what joy to plant [Read More...]

Novel Reading: A Lost Art?

Okay…..I’m picking up a theme that a couple of my blogging colleagues did on “summer reading.”   And in light of the recent passing of Gore Vidal, I’ll talk about some of my favorite novel reading over the summer.  On the news last night, an old interview was shown where Vidal was mourning the loss of [Read More...]

The Olympics as “Existential Narcotic”: How Michael Phelps Represses Our Fear of Death

What do Michael Phelps, the new “Fab Five” and the U.S. men’s basketball team all have in common? They all help us suppress (and repress) our existential anxieties: Our unsettling, subconscious realization of finitude, our fear of death, and our fear of the cultural “other.” It’s been interesting reading through Richard Beck’s The Authenticity of Faith during these [Read More...]

Hittie, Jebusite, Amorite, Mosquito-bite

The New Yorker ran a disturbing piece recently on mosquitoes, apropos to a midsummer post when swatting the pests makes one wistful for snowfall. According to the article, researchers estimate that mosquitoes have been responsible for half the deaths in human history: malaria, yellow fever, dengue, chikungaya, West Nile—just to name a few. Valiant efforts have been [Read More...]

Charley Friedman’s One Hour Smile (1995)

The most enjoyable part of my work as a museum curator was developing close relationships with artists, giving me privileged access to how they think and work, including opportunities to experience their art at its most vulnerable, in process. From time to time I will share their work as a way to reflect on the theological [Read More...]

100 Days to Go

“100 Days to Go” was one of the main articles in the Sunday edition of the Cleveland paper, The Plain Dealer.  100 days to go before the November election, which those of us fortunate enough to live in the swing state of Ohio are reminded of about a b’zillion times each time the TV is [Read More...]

Jonathan Merritt, the SBC, and the Culture Wars: What’s Next?

Something has exploded on the blogosphere — and I have a feeling it’s only getting started. Jonathan Merritt, a young, up-and-coming Christian author and online columnist (and son of a prominent SBC pastor / former SBC president), has been “outed.” After publishing a column in which he declared his intention to continue to patronize Chic-fil-A [Read More...]

Summer Theology Reading Suggestions

I’m going to jump into the on-going topic (see Daniel Harrell’s posts in this blog) of “summer reading.” Summer is quickly slipping away, it seems, but there’s enough time to get some quality reading done. I’m going to suggest just three books that I think are well-worth your time and money (depending on your interests, [Read More...]

Summer Reading Take Two

Over at a friend’s house the other night, the conversation kept going back to high school as if that was the high peak of people’s lives even as they’ve moved into middle age. What is it about those experiences of youth—the fleeting moments of adventure and love and excitement (or at least as we remember [Read More...]


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