Cancer and Divine Transcendence

cancer_cells1

 When your phone goes off in class, your biggest concern is usually the teacher’s reaction. But in that moment, I could not have cared less what my professor was thinking. For staring me in the face was the worst text I had ever received. One of my best friends from home had just gotten word from his oncologist that, less than a year after it had been defeated the first time, his leukemia was back with a vengeance.After reading his message—“Here we go again...”—I immediately went int … [Read more...]

Two Sides of Paradise

terrence-malick

If one were to construct a spectrum of contemporary filmmakers, ranging from the minimalist to the fantastic, one would find Baz Luhrmann and Terrence Malick on very opposite ends of the spectrum. Where the former is loud, explosive, and flashy, the other is introspective, discreet, and nuanced to a fault. And yet, the two movies they had in theaters this summer (The Great Gatsby and To the Wonder, respectively) revolve around the same dynamic tension. In some prior reverie, a man and a woman f … [Read more...]

Miscellany and Divine Transcendence

creation

In the summer issue of Fare Forward, due out shortly, my essay on “Cancer and Divine Transcendence” will examine some ways Christians have responded to suffering, and argue that our popular conceptions of providence oft go awry when we overlook the real distinction between God the First Cause and his created second causes.  Discussing those who mistakenly speak about tragic events as if their badness were merely illusory, I’ll explain, Overlooking divine transcendence and collapsing God down int … [Read more...]

Doubting the Value of Doubt

conscience

Writing about John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Samuel Taylor Coleridge said, "I could not have believed beforehand that Calvinism could be painted in such exquisitely delightful colors." It’s a fascinating comment about a book whose wisdom we are in danger of forgetting as millennial Christians. To take only one example, consider Bunyan’s discussion of doubt and despair found a little past the book’s halfway mark. In the scene, Christian and Hopeful have been taken captive by the Giant Despair … [Read more...]

The Final Judgment and the Burial of the Boston Bomber

grove street cemetary

After plenty of heated discussion, one half of the alleged Boston bombing pair was buried in a Muslim cemetery in VA last week.  The discussion that preceded that burial all centered on the visceral opposition all the local cemeteries displayed toward even the suggestion of burying him. Family and friends of those interred in various cemeteries across New England considered it an affront to the memory of their late loved ones for an alleged terrorist to be buried alongside them. In a deeply … [Read more...]

Ask Aquinas Anything: Divine Perfection in the Face of Evil

aquinas

Dear Thomas, My niece, who takes a daily two-minute break from facebook, sent me a message to ask: (1) how God, who knows everything, can know evil and still remain 100% actualized goodness; and (2) how God’s will can always be fulfilled given that there is evil in the world.  I'd be grateful for your advice.  Sincerely, Questioning in Quinnipiac.1.  The most important point here is to establish the difference between "good" and "evil".  Good is a transcendental quality of all being.  T … [Read more...]

Vengeance is Mine, Saith the Lord

Chariot_Race_Ben-Hur

Recently, Slate ran a fascinating long-form essay on the life of Civil War general and best-selling author Lew Wallace. The article began by telling the story of how Wallace came to write his famous novel Ben-hur, which today is more via the 1959 epic film adaptation starring Charleton Heston. Wallace was riding on the same train as one of his former soldiers, the famed atheist speaker and writer Robert Ingersoll. Wallace joined his friend in his car and they promptly began discussing religion … [Read more...]


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