Sherwood Anderson and the Platonic Touch

A couple of weeks ago, Leah Libresco wrote an excellent article suggesting that our society’s neglect of platonic touch is among one of the many things we need to address if we are to reverse the sexualization of contact that dominates our lives today. In lieu of alternative stories and models of interpersonal relationship, the “friend zone” becomes a dead end, an impasse to be overcome if greater intimacy is to be won. She writes: The friendzone is treated as a wasteland not just because we tre … [Read more...]

That They May Be One

Just last week, I met up with an acquaintance with whom I had grown up in the church, but who, after studying sociology in college, dropped the faith because it simply “didn’t help him understand the world” in a way that made a difference as to how he would live his life. Faith in Jesus was not a live option for him because it seemed that various other sociological factors could better explain the dynamics of Christianity than the self-definition that Christians themselves offered of themselves. … [Read more...]

The Doomsday Machine

My wife and I did not see—and have no plans to see—R.I.P.D., The Lone Ranger, Olympus Has Fallen, and various other big budget movie offerings from 2013. However, not long ago, we sat in the comfort of our basement, which is like a home theater, and watched Noah Baumbach’s latest film, Frances Ha—a buzzed-about 2013 black-and-white American comedy-drama that had a semi-wide theatrical release beginning in May. No cars, skyscrapers, or people were destroyed in Frances Ha, but the scene in which Fr … [Read more...]

This Is What We Do

A few years ago, Chrysler debuted a slick commercial called “Imported from Detroit,” featuring Eminem cruising past relics of the city’s past industrial and civic glory. The voice-over, backed by the thumping guitar riff of “Lose Yourself,” praises Detroit’s gritty resilience and the unexpected luxury of Chryslers rolling out of its factories. Eminem stops his car under the marquee of a theater. He strides down its aisle toward a robed choir, turning to the close-up camera on stage with the tagli … [Read more...]

Social Sin: Who’s Responsible?

Is it possible to take sin seriously when all of one’s collective responsibilities are understood in terms of protecting the individual right to define one’s own responsibilities? I’ve heard it said that one of the great advances in Christian reflection over the 20th century has been the “discovery” of social sin. Consider, for instance, Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous interpretation of Luke 10: On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an … [Read more...]

Virtuous Exemplars

My grandparents provided me with powerful examples of virtue which I would not have had had I grown up away from them.I was twelve years old the first time that I noticed that something about Granny seemed amiss. She and Gramps (my grandfather) had come over for dinner and were enjoying the pre-dinner appetizers that my mother had laid out in the living room. Granny allowed herself to be given a glass of wine before dinner, and had been sipping it for about half an hour when my mother … [Read more...]

Jesus and the Art of Presence

MaryAtFootOfCross

A poignant article rippled through my social media sphere three weeks ago. In "The Art of Presence," David Brooks describes a family’s lessons on how to support those who grieve or, as he says, “how those of us outside the zone of trauma might better communicate with those inside the zone.” Brooks calls for "a sort of passive activism. We have a tendency, especially in an achievement-oriented culture, to want to solve problems and repair brokenness ... But what seems to be needed here is the art … [Read more...]


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