The Panopticon is Busted

I’m reviewing James K.A. Smith’s new book, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, for the next issue of Fare Forward. Unfortunately, in a relatively brief review there is not space to consider every interesting turn in a text which, though a short book, is very thick conceptually. This reflection centers around some thoughts I wasn’t able to fit into my print review.In his Cultural Liturgies series, Smith is interested in the ways that our social, embodied practices form us into people who … [Read more...]

There’s So Much We Don’t Know

 A fantastic post on the NPR blog a little while back about the mystery that still surrounds the orgin of life. It is a good example of the kind of open ended questioning, the frank acknowledgment of ignorance before many questions, that we should see more of in scientific conversations: How did life first happen? How did it begin? We don't know. As Peter Godfrey Smith puts it, in his elegant review of Thomas Nagel's recent book: "We still know very little about how life began, and it i … [Read more...]

Charles Taylor on the Future of Religion

 From A Secular Age: One future, which flows out of mainline secularization theory, sees religion shrinking further and further. Of course, no one expects it to disappear totally, giving way to science, as the old generation of rationalist atheists did (see the quotes from Renan and Comte in Chap. 15). Most atheists accept today that there always be a certain degree of "irrationality," or at least inattention to science, and the wildest ideas will always have defenders. But we will get … [Read more...]

Do We Like Bonhoeffer For the Right Reasons?

Why is Bonhoeffer experiencing such popularity among evangelical Christians at the moment? What is the appeal of his life and message that we find so attractive - and is that attraction legitimate?I was first introduced to Bonhoeffer's life in a Focus on the Family Radio Theatre production titled "Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom." More recently, Eric Metaxas wrote a biography of titled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. This biography has been critiqued by Bonhoeffer historians … [Read more...]

The Shock of Benedict’s Resignation

Two days ago, on Ash Wednesday the faithful all over the world conducted their business with an ashen cross on their foreheads to remind them that from dust we were made, and to dust we shall return. This is a jarring and almost grotesque practice to a culture where youth and vitality are purchased at a high price, and embargoes against discussing death are one of the only social taboos remaining.  Yet only a few days prior, on February 11, the world was given an even more high-profile reminder … [Read more...]

Lent: Why the Language of Self-Control Falls Short

 A group of us were gathered around dinner, discussing what we could give up for Lent together. Someone suggested, “Vegetarian dinners?” There was a silent pause.As fellows at the Trinity Forum Academy, we rotate cooking dinners for everyone between the twelve of us, so any dinner decision had to be a communal one. Halfway through the discussion, someone asked, “What would be the point of giving up meat?”“Self-control” was the main consensus. A reminder that all good things are g … [Read more...]

Christianity’s Declining Moral Capital

Richard Gunderman touts the benefits of honesty in his recent piece for The Atlantic, “Is Lying Bad for Us?” Considering factors from physiology to personal awareness, Gunderman makes a case for value of truthfulness in a piece that reflects the difficulty of justifying virtues on their intrinsic merit in a society with a declining sense of moral objectivity. Gunderman’s piece begins by surveying the current state of honesty in America. He reports that people lie not only to avoid embarr … [Read more...]