Should We Buy Houses?

At the end of yesterday's post, the editors called for a renewed attempt to distinguish between ordinary Christianity and capitulation to contemporary American norms. I think this will sometimes take us in counter-intuitive directions. Yesterday's post made reference to "anti-suburban Christianity" and praised those Christians who have raised concerns about the effects of the suburbs on virtue and the life of faith. From this, it would not be a big leap to the pro-rental movement. When you think … [Read more...]

On The Moral Qualities of Privilege

In light of Sarah Ngu's recent post on privilege, I'd like to offer some rough thoughts on problems we face in defining privilege and distinguishing between the moral qualities of different sorts of privilege. I'm still working through the issue, so comments on the view I'm presenting would be appreciated.1.  In Sarah's post, she cites Andy Crouch's definition of privilege as the enjoyment of benefits on the basis of someone else's past creative power.2.  By this definition, privilege i … [Read more...]

Why Don’t We Talk About Friendship More?

This weekend, I was blessed to have the opportunity to hear Wesley Hill, the author of Washed and Waiting, speak at Harvard on spiritual friendship and sexuality. One of the challenges he posed sprung from his reading of St. Aelred of Rievaulx's reflection Spiritual Friendship. He noted, "there aren't a lot of similar treatises [on friendship] that we could point to in today's church. Why is that? Could we be part of rewriting them ourselves? Could we be part of living into them ourselves and rec … [Read more...]

Father Brown and the Reality of Sin

I have now read about half of the total collection of stories featuring Father Brown, GK Chesterton’s erstwhile detective. Chesterton describes him “as commonplace a person as could be seen anywhere, with a round, brown-haired head and a round snub nose… clad in clerical black.” He is very short and is elsewhere described as “ugly.” Most people who don’t know him pay very little attention to Father Brown. He neither collects fingerprints nor tails suspects, and unlike Sherlock Holmes, he dons no … [Read more...]

Reclaiming Carpe Diem

Jack Black once said, "I am fairly certain that 'YOLO' is 'Carpe Diem' for stupid people." Given that the acronym is just as unintelligible as Latin to those not in the know, it's still possible to misunderstand YOLO's meaning—as I discovered when I saw this picture on Buzzfeed. So for those who don't know, YOLO means "you only live once" and it's meant to convey a sort of gather-ye-rosebuds-while-ye-may sentiment.The logic of YOLO and carpe diem is that you should take advantage of today bec … [Read more...]

Education: Outcomes > Values

David Brooks’ recent NYT op-ed featured Brown professor Jin Li’s research on the comparative values of Eastern and Western cultural approaches to learning: Westerners tend to define learning cognitively while Asians tend to define it morally. Westerners tend to see learning as something people do in order to understand and master the external world. Asians tend to see learning as an arduous process they undertake in order to cultivate virtues inside the self. These “learning virtues” include “s … [Read more...]