You cannot read the Bible well and not wish to help the poor and the powerless. If you see an older person, evil  says “whatever,” the Bible says, “honor her.” If you meet a weak man, the bad bully, the Biblical strengthens his weakness. The starving gets food, the enemy love, the poor are not sent empty away. Christians can disagree on means, but not on ends. My home state of West Virginia has thousands of working poor, our duty… Read more

You cannot make a man a slave only enslave him, but what if you can tempt him to brutalize himself? Once a slaver is forced to use force constantly to maintain the system of slavery, the end of the system is close. Slavery needs a social system that makes bad choices attractive to those it wishes to enslave. The most effective system of slavery would be where the population is enslaved without realizing that they are enslaved and where they… Read more

Let’s begin any defense of Humanities departments by admitting that many Humanities programs at many colleges have gone quite mad. Forget political agendas, a graduate of a college should read, write, think, and be more numberate at the end of school. If one judges the content only by the notion of rigor, the intellectual chops required to master what is taught, more than a few programs have become intellectually simple-minded. Anyone fit to go to college who does not get an… Read more

The movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri tried too hard to be Best Picture. As a result, it failed, even if it left us with some very fine acting and some acting that was acting like very fine acting. This is a good movie, even if it distorts history and the region it describes by showing one side of it.  The story is a fakery, as false as if Pollyanna was told to children as the truth. The difference is that everyone… Read more

Authenticity seems like a great goal. Who wants to talk to someone pretending to be someone else? True authenticity, however, is hard to achieve and may be more a good thing that happens when we do other good things that a thing we should make a goal of living. The moment someone says “I am being authentic” one can assume they are not being authentic, even if they are sincere in their desire to do so. The examination of self… Read more

Spin, the art of making a bad case seem better, is bad for our republic. Rhetoric, making a good case beautiful,  is not bad and a good dose of rhetorical training will make us immune to spin and make those tempted to spin think again. This term I taught Gregory Nanzianzus, Augustine of Hippo, and Boethius in a three week period. Other than Christianity they had this in common: they were all skilled in the Roman art of rhetoric. Augustine was… Read more

When we moved to Houston, friends could not give away tickets to an Astros game. We heard them called the Disastros and other less cheerful and repeatable names. We went anyway, as we like baseball. We saw. . . sort-of-baseball. The team was not good, in fact, was very, very not good, but it was Major League Baseball. You had to love the team. Of course, we could not love them like friends who remember every season of this fairly… Read more

The Book of Judges ends with a sad description: “A man did what right according to his vision.” If America gets there, then we are done as a free people. We might get a king, but for every David, there will be a Jeroboam, son of Nebat, who causes us to sin. How? We chose power and prudence over goodness and beauty. The author of this book makes this the theme of his story:  They did what they thought was… Read more

I am often (deservedly) sad. This sadness is especially appropriate for the wrongs I have done or as a just reaction to the bad things that I see happening to good people. This sorrow does not have to lead to despair, a deeper, hopeless feeling, but it can. Most often this happens when my (just) sorrow for my sins meets radical injustice from institutions that should know better. It is one thing for a man to mess up. This mercy… Read more

Boethius was a good man, but a tyrant was about to kill him. This is not inspiriting and Boethius despaired until Philosophy came to the rescue. If you major in philosophy, one thing you can point out to skeptical parents is that if a tyrant imprisons you, the training will help. Philosophy combined with Christian theology (as it was in Boethius) does help. Christianity provides the hope, data through revelation, and philosophy shows that this hope is rational. Nobody pushed to… Read more

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