On Mindless Entertainment

Charles Dickens wrote a most excellent essay against proposed Sabbath laws, Sunday Under Three Heads. Certain puritanical types wanted to close absolutely everything closable all Sunday and ban harmless pursuits, though they were harder on the middle-class and poor than the rich. Dickens would not stand for it. He admitted that a day of rest was [Read More...]

The Bible is the Iliad!

Did Jesus rise from the dead? The Gospels say He did, but lately I have bumped into more than one skeptic who claims that I should classify “the Bible” as “legendary.” Generally, he (and it almost always a he) will cite a book like the Iliad as an example of legendary material. “We know ancients produced legendary [Read More...]

In Which I Live Blog a Marathon Weekend Reading of Plato’s Republic

What would happen if a group of HBU students, faculty, and staff joined together to read Plato’s Republic? What will we see? What will we learn? Our host is not Cephalus, but Professor Al Geier of the University of Rochester: a master of the dialectic and a father in the logos. We began with ten [Read More...]

The Bible Tells Me So

There is a simple error: you cannot be part of a community, if you don’t agree with all the ideas in it. I am Republican, the son of Republican, the grandson of a Republican, and the great-grandson of a Republican. I could continue all the way back to Mr. Lincoln and the Reynolds who left [Read More...]

Christmas Carol (Postlude): AIG and Literary Humbug

This year I supersaturated in Charles Dickens to celebrate his bicentennial and used his Christmas Carol as part of my jollification. Whatever the state of Dickens’ soul, and no man can judge, he lived in a pervasively Christian country. His books are shot through with references to the Faith and he assumes the Christianity of all but his [Read More...]

Christmas Carol (X): Jollification

Scrooge repents. He repents even though he is unsure of salvation. He is sorry for his misdoings and no longer attempts to bargain with Justice. He accepts that he is wretched and does not just retreat from selfishness, but to positive charity. C.S. Lewis made the point that too many of us confused unselfishness with [Read More...]

Christmas Carol (IX): Ghost of Christmas Future

We discount Scrooge’s sins too steeply if we make him merely stingy. Scrooge’s stinginess made him a bad neighbor and subject of the Crown. This was his chief sin and the Ghost of Christmas Future reveals that the City is better off without him. His story is the reverse of that of George Bailey: it [Read More...]

Christmas Carol (VIII): Ignorance and Want

Christmas Carol has targets in mind and it isn’t Ebenezer Scrooge. Charles Dickens is after Ignorance and Want. Nobody, even Mr. Scrooge, is in the Ignorance and Want Lobby, but Dickens knows that many of us support both without intending to do so. My vices, small in themselves, added to the vices of my neighbors, can [Read More...]

Christmas Carol (VII): The Ghost of Christmas Present

Ebenezer Scrooge has refused to make merry on Christmas and so Christmas jests with him. Sinners are always serious when they should be merry, and trivial when they should be serious. Christmas Past reminded Scrooge of chances missed and Christmas Present will teach him of opportunities about to be squandered. The Ghost of Christmas Present [Read More...]

Christmas Carol (VI): Ghosts of Christmas Past

Unlike Ebenezer Scrooge, the memories of my Christmas past are happy. My parents worked hard to give us a holiday centered in Jesus and full of jollification. We went to Church, watched Christmas specials on television before video gave us even more control of our media lives, and practiced the American rituals of the season. [Read More...]


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