Photo Sunday: Ecstatic

One thing we can relearn from babies is the way they live and feel entirely in the present, untroubled by the past, unanxious about the future. Capturing this one transcendent moment of happiness, I was reminded of a quote:"The word 'infant' is derived from the Latin word for 'unable to speak,' but you'll be perfectly capable of saying one thing: 'I suffer,' and you'll do it tirelessly and without hesitation. I have to admire your utter commitment to that statement; when you cry, you'll … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Good Classic

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 5A year passes, and Peter Keating is moving up in the world. Through clever manipulation of office politics, he's gotten rid of everyone who had seniority on him, leaving his own path clear for promotion.The first to go is Tim Davis, the firm's star draftsman. In the guise of wanting to be helpful, Keating volunteers to do more and more of Davis' work, which Davis welcomes since it gives him the opportunity to slack off. However, it soon becomes obvious … [Read more...]

Evangelicalism Returns to Its White Supremacist Roots

Since the election, my post on the white supremacist roots of evangelical Christianity has been getting a lot of hits, and no wonder. In retrospect, it was the key to understanding the transformation that this election cycle has wrought in the country.And that change is continuing, as argued in an article by Sarah Posner with an unsurpassable title, Amazing Disgrace. Posner traces the resurgence of what she calls "alt-right Christianity" - the marriage of convenience between white … [Read more...]

The Hypocrisy of Geert Wilders

I've written before about Geert Wilders, the right-wing firebrand (and ex-Catholic agnostic) Dutch politician who infuriated Muslim governments worldwide with his anti-Islam film Fitna. The kingdom of Jordan demanded that the Netherlands extradite him so he could stand trial under their blasphemy law. While the Netherlands rightfully refused this chilling request, they also charged him under the country's own anti-hate-speech law, which I opposed for the same reasons. (He was later … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: A Dream Deferred

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 4Howard Roark has been working at Henry Cameron's office for a month. Cameron often comes out to loom over Roark's shoulder and glare at him, but the two of them have scarcely spoken in all that time. Finally, he calls Roark into his office:The light of the lamp fell on Cameron's cheek, on his beard, the white threads glistening, on his fist, on a corner of the drawing, its black lines bright and hard as if embossed on the paper."You're fired," … [Read more...]

The One Percent Embraces Doomsday

America is in a gloomy mood, and it's not just us. A spirit of pessimism seems to have settled across the world in the last year: our divisions seem more unbridgeable than ever, the solutions to our problems increasingly receding out of reach.In such times, it's natural that people start fearing the worst. In a way, imagining the apocalypse is refreshing. It's strangely comforting to ruminate on how we'd survive even if things got as bad as they possibly could. Plus, if everything comes … [Read more...]

The Cult of the In-Group

Well, it was only a matter of time until someone made this argument:In Matt 25, when Jesus talks about caring for "the least of these," he isn't talking about the poor in general, but fellow Christians.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) March 17, 2017Matthew 25, the parable of the sheep and the goats, has long been a thorn in the side of the religious right. It's a story that's supposed to take place on judgment day, where Jesus exalts some people and condemns others for how they … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Roaring Twenties

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 4The 1920s in America were a glamorous, atmospheric decade of excess, social upheaval and cultural ferment. Al Capone and other legendary gangsters shot their way into the public consciousness, whether as lurid villains or Robin Hood-esque antiheroes. F. Scott Fitzgerald immortalized Jazz Age wealth and decadence in novels like The Great Gatsby. Radio and cinema conquered culture as the new organs of mass media. The Harlem Renaissance was at its height, … [Read more...]

Movie Review: Arrival

Content note: Minor spoilers.I'm behind on movies, but I'm trying to catch up on the ones I missed when they were in theaters. The 2016 film I most wanted to see was Arrival, and it was worth the wait.Arrival is a first contact sci-fi story, based on Ted Chiang's novella "Story of Your Life". It begins with twelve huge ovoid spaceships appearing silently, simultaneously, at twelve locations across the Earth. Every eighteen hours, a hatch opens in each of the ships, and the human beings … [Read more...]

#800deadbabies: The Grim Conclusion

In 2014, I wrote about the Magdalene laundry in the Irish town of Tuam, one of many institutions where the Catholic church imprisoned and tortured innocent women. Catherine Corless, a local historian, uncovered death certificates for almost 800 children who died there under the harsh and abusive hand of church overseers.Corless embarked on a search for these children's graves. While she had no direct evidence of where most of them were buried, there were no burial records for them in any … [Read more...]