Unequal Conversation Partners


In a recent post over at NPR, Adam Frank reviews Religion without God, Ronald Dworkin’s posthumously published book on religion. In his book, Dworkin attempts to expand the definition of religion beyond its traditional boundaries, arguing that you can be religious even if you don’t believe in God. For Frank, this innovative thesis shifts the ground on which science/religion debates take place.  A broader definition overcomes the apparent cultural rift between “evangelical vs. scientist, believer … [Read more...]

The Spirit and the Letter


As director of The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann made a controversial choice in choosing to depict the parties of the Roaring Twenties with music featuring today's top artists and styles. In one sense, this made the movie a less "true" depiction of what life during the Jazz Age was life. The minor allusions to that era, the droning trumpets and hints of blues, are authentic twenties, but the rap styling and rapid beats would have been foreign to those alive during that era. Yet in another sense, Lu … [Read more...]

Cynicism, Passion, and The Onion


I’ve sworn off reading The Onion. It’s not that I don’t appreciate its sardonic wit or comedic genius. On the contrary, I think its writers are often some of the most apt cultural critics currently writing. But their analysis of the world has become so acute as to blur in my mind the line between reality and fiction. I vividly remember once clicking through the website and laughing at its startlingly accurate social comedy couched in the blackest of black comedy. Shocked shame was my response whe … [Read more...]

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 … [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. I could learn t … [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 … [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.” But, as a res … [Read more...]