Waiting for the Bells

One of the greatest scenes in the history of cinema comes at the end of an obscure Russian movie about a medieval icon painter, Andrei Rublev.  The film, written and directed by Andrei Tarkosvsky in Soviet Russia (an unlikely Dostoevsky among directors in a secular age), tells the story of the painter and his struggles in seven episodes spanning the period from his early adulthood to old age.  The seventh and final episode of the film, entitled “The Bell”, focuses… Read more

Just as I Have Loved You, You Also Are to Love One Another

  “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper… he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand… Read more

Persuading Isn’t Just about Argumentation

This week First Things ran an excellent article entitled “Pope Francis and the Clash of Revelations.” Its basic argument was that all humans look at the world through the lens of certain basic “revelations” or foundational beliefs. While it may be “technically possible” for us to step outside these beliefs, almost nobody will. The result is that theists and atheists, Thomists and Utilitarians, communitarians and classical liberals all hold certain basic beliefs that make dialogue with the other difficult or impossible… Read more

The Commodification of the Written Word and the Future of Journalism

In a blog post published last week by marketing giant HubSpot, CMO Mike Volpe explained why he hired a former editor at Newsweek. The post examines why more and more journalism graduates are moving to the world of marketing: The traditional advertising model is broken. It used to be that if you were a top-tier journalist like Dan, you went to work at a world-class publication (like Forbes), and that would pay you a nice salary because they sold a… Read more

The Vagina Monologues and Body Shame

  A few weeks ago I attended a production of the Vagina Monologues. Watching actor after actor deliver a monologue about her vagina was a bit of a culture shock; just a few hours ago, I was on the bus coming from my Christian fellowship at the Trinity Forum Academy, where the topics covered in the Monologues aren’t usually discussed. Under the influence of this culture shock, I instinctively cringed a little at the show’s vagina preoccupation. But I starting… Read more

Avoiding Civilizational Hard Ceilings

  I recently wrote about an interview I conducted with sociologist Robert Bellah in preparation for a talk he gave this past week at Notre Dame. The talk introduced his thoughts on the next step in his work, following up on his argument in Religion in Human Evolution. A good portion of the talk drew on recent work by Ian Morris on the historical relationship between development and the fate of civilizations. In particular, Bellah found that a developmental “hard… Read more

Introducing the Sacrallennials

  Over at Juicy Ecumenism, guest poster Thomas Holgrave (of the worth-checking-out blog The Hipster Conservative) tries his hand at some religious taxonomy, attempting a description of “Two Kinds of Christian Conservatives.” Holgrave observes that the old liberal/conservative distinction in Christianity is breaking down somewhat as millennial evangelicals and Catholics have emerged as less politically conservative than their parents without necessarily embracing the theological liberalism of the Protestant mainline. He writes: Younger Christians who are keeping the faith are often… Read more

Reinhold Niebuhr’s One Scripture Passage

Mid-20th-century America saw several theological giants roaming the landscape, participating in public debates, and exercising a degree of social influence unrivalled by any American theologian today.  One of the greatest of these giants was Reinhold Niebuhr, Professor of Applied Christianity at Union Seminary.  In December of 1954, William Nichols, editor of This Week Magazine, put the following question before Dr. Niebuhr: “If as a result of some cataclysm, it were possible to retain just one passage from the Bible –… Read more

Family Stories and the Narrative of Christ

  Christianity is in large part a narrative, a story, and the psychological implications of that may be greater than we ever realized. This past Sunday, Bruce Feiler wrote a wonderful reflection on the psychological importance of family stories in the New York Times. What helps children stay resilient in the face of crises, he argues, is their ability to place themselves within a larger family narratives – particularly ones that include both ups and downs. Feiler draws on the the work of Dr…. Read more

Keep Calm and Contemplate On

  “Keep Calm and Carry On”: It’s our culture’s latest mantra. The phrase applies in all kinds of contexts—political, social, economic. Oppressed by government? Keep calm and carry on. Hurting from a break-up? Keep calm and carry on. Out of a job? Keep calm and carry on. Though it’s been popularized in myriad forms (personally I prefer “Keep Calm and Pet Cats”), it’s worth considering what this slogan really means, and whether we should embrace its message. Maxims like this… Read more

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