What We Can Learn from Young Atheists

Recently The Atlantic posted an article entitled, “Listening to Young Atheists, Lessons for a Stronger Christianity.” In it, Larry Alex Tauron, the article’s author, reports the results of a survey he conducted to figure how, why, and when young atheists decided to become atheists (“Tell us your journey to unbelief.”). Taunton states that he expected to find Hitchens, Dawkins, and the other New Atheists at the forefront of these young people’s minds—but instead, they rarely mentioned any specific names of… Read more

Literature and the Moral Life

During a class discussion in college, I recall one of my English professors off-handedly commenting, “Well, we study literature to become better people, right?” The question struck me as odd then, as it does now. Certainly reading classic works can improve a reader’s analytical skills; perhaps it also aids intellectual and personal development.  But that doesn’t mean it always makes us more moral. I was a physics major in college, and this point seemed clear-cut to me at the time…. Read more

Doubting the Value of Doubt

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 and locked… Read more

On Gratitude and the Essayification of Life

“Tabbing” is what I call my daily practice of scrolling through emails, Facebook, and Twitter, clickling on any interesting links that pop out. It usually ends with an intimidating row of nearly twenty tabs of articles that I generally avoid but occasionally binge-read, plowing through multiple articles at once. The few articles that get me thinking I send off to friends via email or Facebook with a sentence or two of my thoughts. There is nothing inherently wrong with “tabbing.”… Read more

The Bonobo and The Creator

Biologist Frans de Waal is convinced we’ve gotten it all wrong: morality does not come down from on high but rather emerges from the bottom up. In his new book, The Bonobo and the Atheist, he reveals findings from his careful study of primates that suggest they exhibit traits such as empathy and compassion, behaving ethically in ways that resemble human behavior. He proposes that morality is a natural product of evolution and that religion emerged as a later useful by-product…. Read more

Longing, Communion, and the Great Gatsby

Like most of us, I read The Great Gatsby in high school, and although I forgot most of the plot, I remember the elusive feelings that the book evoked, and liking them. I was surprised, then, when the movie mesmerized me, but also left me feeling kind of sick. I can see the source of the film (and book’s) attraction.  The green light perpetually burning on Daisy’s dock is a powerful sign of human desire, reaching, perpetually reaching – for… Read more

On the Use of Arguments in Theology

I am currently working through Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae, commenting on one article each day.  Given the large interest among the Fare Forward community in the role of reason and argument in the exposition and defense of the faith, I thought a careful discussion of Aquinas’s thoughts on this matter would be well received here.  So below is my discussion of Question 1, Article 8 of the first part of the Summa: Whether Sacred Doctrine is a Matter of Argument. (The English text… Read more

Art and The Mysterious Beyond

A couple of posts over at “Good Letters” have thoughtfully addressed art’s purpose and how it interacts with and reflects a greater reality. In the first of these pieces, Vic Sizemore responds to a recent article by Michael Chabon in the New York Review of Books. Chabon argues that the artist’s function is addressing brokenness in the world by putting back together the “‘scattered pieces of that great overturned jigsaw puzzle’ according to [the artist’s] own vision.”  A creative work “is… Read more

The Final Judgment and the Burial of the Boston Bomber

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…. Read more

Worldliness and Anxiety

Walking across Dartmouth’s campus recently I overheard one student say to another: “Hey – you should come to Gammapalooza at Chi Gam tonight, everyone’ll be there…” and then somewhat compassionately added, “but don’t worry if you can’t…. no FOMO!” If you don’t know what this acronym stands for, I’m sorry to say, you’re missing out. It’s one of the most useful acronyms to be added to the online urban dictionary in the last five years. FOMO = “fear of missing… Read more

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