The Decline of Dawkins and the Dawn of Deliberative Doubt

In March 2012, a crowd of atheists flocked to the National Mall in Washington, DC for the first “Reason Rally.” Billed as the “Woodstock for atheists and skeptics,” the rally, headlined by Richard Dawkins, seemed to signal a new resurgence of popularity and influence for the New Atheism. But while atheism is still strong, the New Atheism is rapidly becoming the Old Atheism, and Richard Dawkins is in danger of becoming irrelevant. So argues Theo Hobson in an article this… Read more

The Elite and the Elect

College decisions season has arrived, and this year, one student took a very public approach to her bad news. She wrote a letter to the colleges that turned her down and submitted it for publication to the Wall Street Journal. Suzy Lee Weiss’ editorial letter satirically lambasts the college application process. She critiques its preference for applicants who are diverse, do-gooders, or who have helicopter parents that ensure their children submit perfectly well-rounded applications. It is easy to dismiss her manifesto… Read more

The Universe, Briefly Summarized

Before anything else there is God, absolutely simple and unique, utterly exhausting his own potentiality, totally free, impassible, immaterial, transparent to himself.[1] God first of all is, and his being determines the being of everything else. There could be no fuller answer to the question “What is?” than “God.” In God’s perfect possession of the highest actuality, his being lies open to itself, and communicates itself to itself in an eternal relation of knower and known. The divine essence as… 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… Read more

Overemphasizing Spiritual Abuse?

  Yesterday I discovered this thought-provoking interview on abusive religious groups. The interviewee, Samantha Field (a Fare Forward reader, by the way) blogs at Defeating the Dragons about her experience rethinking faith after a youth spent in extreme Christian fundamentalism. Everyone I shared the interview with agreed that Samantha’s experience was horrific, and we are all impressed with her efforts to think through these issues and recover a healthy, orthodox Christian practice. Many of us know other “burn victims” who… Read more

Vengeance is Mine, Saith the Lord

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… 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… Read more

What Hath Our Hands Wrought?

In certain circles, it’s become popular to worry about the effects of “the Internet” on human life. The pace of technological development and the uncertainty about the long term effects of being constantly “plugged-in” both fuel our anxiety. The Atlantic alone has run two examples of this genre in the last week. First, Hanna Rosin recently wrote an Atlantic cover story about “The Touch-Screen Generation” and how early access to this technology might affect children’s development. She introduces the term “digital… Read more

Ethics, Tribal and Global

  We live in a moment that is at once pervaded by guilt and dismissive of its reality. This was the paradox set forth by Wilfred McClay last Thursday in his talk, co-sponsored by Trinity Forum and the Pepperdine University, “The Strange Persistence of Guilt in a Post-Religious World: How it Affects our Public Life, and What We Can Do About It.” McClay notes that his students seem to be feel guilty about almost everything: colonialism, environmental problems, structural poverty,… Read more

Finding Bigfoot and Losing Cynicism

Sunday was the season two finale of Animal Planet’s hit series “Finding Bigfoot.”  I watched it, and then felt bad about myself.  Not because I dislike the show—I actually love it.  The problem is that I hate the reasons why I love it. The show’s premise is simple. Four people travel from place to place trying to find Bigfoot.  Three of them—Matt, Cliff, and Bobo—are hardcore Bigfoot believers.  Matt and Cliff interview most of the witnesses and examine the evidence,… Read more