Venmo and Friendship

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 I'm a fan of Venmo, an app that makes it incredibly easy to send and receive money. Instead of scrutinizing piles of dollar bills to figure out how exactly to pay the tab among a group of friends, one person can pick up the tab and charge the rest of their friends the exact amount via Venmo. However, if Venmo gets more and more popular, and Forbes' prediction that it will be the "future of payments" comes true, then I will start to mourn the loss of something.I will be mourning th … [Read more...]

The Compound

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 Following a catastrophic nuclear attack, fifteen-year-old Eli has spent the past six years living in an elaborate underground compound with his parents and siblings--minus his twin brother, who happened to be separated from the rest of the family when the first nuclear warheads were launched. Ever the sucker for dystopian and speculative fiction, I found the premise of S.A. Bodeen’s young adult novel The Compound too good to pass up when I stumbled across it a couple weeks a … [Read more...]

On God’s Side

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 Jim Wallis’s On God’s Side comes in two parts. In the first, he argues that biblical Christianity involves not only the personal, individual standing of the Christian before God and the individual’s relationship with Christ, but also a deeply communal element that inspires genuine concern for one’s neighbors. In the second, he fleshes out how these sometimes-competing concerns ought to inf luence Christian political thought and engagement. Wallis’s inspiration for the title of the book … [Read more...]

Fandom’s Final Tragedy

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 I was talking with a friend recently, and I decided that her sister’s new boyfriend—who I’ve never met—is a bad person. I only know one thing about him, but it’s enough: he has always lived in Oklahoma, but claims to be a New England Patriots fan.For me, the Super Bowl is a time of reflection. After my team gets eliminated, the NFL playoffs lead me to ponder the meaning of sorrow, loyalty, and loss. This year I’ve been lucky so far: my Denver Broncos are in the Super Bowl for the fi … [Read more...]

The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography

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 For those who enjoy biographies and love books, what could be better than a good biography... of a great book? The Lives of Great Religious Books series promises many happy hours learning more about old friends and making new acquaintances, from Augustine’s Confessions to Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison, from the book of Genesis, to the Tibetan Book of the Dead.One of the latest books in this series, Alan Jacobs’s biography of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), provides a … [Read more...]

The Great Agnostic

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 Some biographies praise their subjects so effusively that they seem to take on the status of demigods, full of power, wisdom, and something more than mere humanity. Others do a disservice to the subject by making, perhaps unintentionally, his concerns seem narrow and his work seem uninspiring. Susan Jacoby’s The Great Agnostic is of the latter category.It recounts the life of Robert Ingersoll, the 19th-century American Freethinker dubbed “The Great Agnostic.” Relatively unknown in m … [Read more...]

Strange Gods

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 Pop quiz: define “idol.” If the first thing you think of is Israel dancing around a golden calf at the foot of Mt. Sinai, Catholic blogger Elizabeth Scalia would have you know that you’re a bit out of date. But with the publication of her new book on idolatry, Strange Gods, it might be more appropriate to wonder if she’s the one late to the party. From Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart to Presbyterian pastor Timothy Keller, Seattle mega-church preacher Mark Driscoll to pop theolog … [Read more...]


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