The Wonderment of Grace


 A narrow understanding of faith very readily turns to bitterness and coerciveness. There is something about certainty that makes Christianity un-Christian... Therefore, because I would be a good Christian, I have cultivated uncertainty, which I consider a form of reverence. -Marilynne Robinson, “Credo,” 2008In every sense, Marilynne Robinson is an act of God.First of all, she belongs to that rare confederacy of authors who loom large in the moral imagination of their own day. La … [Read more...]

You Can’t Choose Your Friends


 Axiomatic in our times is the foundational nature of choice. Our politics, economics, and law are all based on the idea that individuals make choices that can be good or bad. When asked, this is what we mean by “responsibility”: we are responsible for our own choices. After all, we can’t be responsible for other people’s choices. Responsibility, therefore, implies personal responsibility. It only exists when we choose something.Even friendship with others is reduced to choice. As th … [Read more...]

Disappearing Bodies


 Many atheists and agnostics hold that they would believe in God if he would only show himself to them. After all, why couldn’t he, if he is all-powerful? Why wouldn’t he, if he is kind and loving, and if he really wants people to believe in him as much as he says he does? In response, Christians point to God’s incarnation as Jesus Christ, a man who lived on the earth just as we do. The people who lived in Christ’s time walked with him, ate with him, and touched his scarred hands. I’ve o … [Read more...]

The Tyranny of Data


 Data science has been dubbed by Harvard Business Review as “the sexiest job in the 21st century” and by The New York Times as a “hot new field that promises to revolutionize industries, from business to government, health care to academia.” As the Times article explains, technology has given us access to gargantuan amounts of data, and companies, universities, and governments are rapidly hiring data scientists with the statistical and programming skills to make sense of “big data,” a ph … [Read more...]

The Tallest Man on Earth


 Kristian Matsson, when asked why he chose the stage moniker “The Tallest Man on Earth,” replied, “When you have a name like that, you have to write good music.”It seems to be working.Matsson’s albums have combined an arching and insightful songwriting with nimble fingerpicking, passionate pace, and clever open tunings. He has drawn comparisons to early folk legends such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger and then has stepped past them and developed his own style of song, marked by … [Read more...]

Is the Breaking Bad Finale Too Neat?


 **Warning: Massive Spoilers** Amidst the mostly unanimous praise for Breaking Bad’s finale this past Sunday there was one steady complaint from a fair share of critics: Was the finale too neat? Alan Sepinwall raised the point at HitFix but Matt Yglesias’s wooden criticism at Slate may have been the firmest on the point.The trouble with the criticism (and to his credit, Yglesias himself acknowledges this) is that it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of what Bre … [Read more...]

The Idolatry of Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

   **WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT ** The empire has fallen. All that remains of our Ozymandias is a broken, bloodied body - infected with cancer but finally killed by a bullet wound. The story, after its climax at the confrontation of anti-hero and hero, has winded down slowly, but satisfyingly, through its denouement to its final conclusion last night. The question remains: will Walter's story be for naught, gradually forgotten as we fill our evenings with the … [Read more...]