Machen, Evangelicalism, and Worldviews

On the recommendation of a friend, I recently read through J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism. As one who will soon be attending a more left-leaning divinity school, I thought that going back to the Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy might be a good means of understanding that into which I will soon be stepping. While I think Machen’s work is quite prescient in its nature, I often found myself frustrated with him. For the past year and a half, I have been… Read more

Paddle Your Own Canoe

In his 2011 essay, “The Problem With Memoirs,” New York Times critic Neil Genzlinger called for a moment of silence for “the lost art of shutting up.” “There was a time when you had to earn the right to draft a memoir,” he argued, “by accomplishing something noteworthy or having an extremely unusual experience,” and “anyone who didn’t fit one of those categories was obliged to keep quiet.” “Unremarkable lives went unremarked upon,” Genzlinger said, “the way God intended.” Well,… Read more

Grace at the Movies

  In their first co-directed film, The Way Way Back (2013), Nat Faxon and Jim Rash feature fourteen-year-old Duncan (Liam James), who goes on summer vacation with his newly-divorced mom (Toni Collette), her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell), and Trent’s daughter from a previous relationship, Steph (Zoe Levin). The movie begins as the four of them are on the way to Trent’s beach house, with Trent asking Duncan to rate himself—his personality, looks, everything—on a scale of one to ten… Read more

Bleeding Edge

  Is it better to seek the truth, or to accept the comfort of illusion? That is one of the central questions posed by Bleeding Edge, the latest novel from Thomas Pynchon that paints a picture of greed, ambition, and paranoia in wake of the rise and fall of the dot-com era and 9/11. Steeped in pop-culture references to Beanie Babies, Friends, and Britney Spears, the book captures the enthusiasm and recklessness of the dot-com bubble as well as the panic,… Read more

What We Talk About When We Talk About Ambition

When it comes to ambition, it sometimes seems that feeding our egos means starving our souls. The Onion highlighted this ambivalence with an article headlined “Unambitious Loser with Happy, Fulfilling Life Still Lives in Hometown.” Quote: “Sources close to Husmer reported that the man, who has meaningful, lasting personal relationships and a healthy work-life balance, is an unmotivated washout who’s perfectly comfortable being a nobody.” This Onion piece juxtaposes the language of worldly success with the language of personal satisfaction… Read more

That They May Be One

Just last week, I met up with an acquaintance with whom I had grown up in the church, but who, after studying sociology in college, dropped the faith because it simply “didn’t help him understand the world” in a way that made a difference as to how he would live his life. Faith in Jesus was not a live option for him because it seemed that various other sociological factors could better explain the dynamics of Christianity than the self-definition… Read more

Big Lies

  As Irving Rosenfeld, the consummate con-man of American Hustle explains, people want to be conned. That’s because, broadly speaking, there are two types of personal change. There is real change, involving an internal change of disposition, and there is superficial change, involving an external change of circumstances. The former is difficult— so, unsurprisingly, we tend to be attracted to the latter. It is this desire for quick and easy transformation that the con-man feeds on. We want to believe that… Read more

#OnlyHuman

    Editor’s Note: This article concludes a two-part series on social media, begun with “Reading Charitably” by Laura Marshall [Issue 6: Self and Other]. We encourage you to read these pieces in conjunction, and conversation, with one another.  You Instagram a Pic-Stitched picture. You post a link to an outstanding article on Facebook with incisively clever commentary. You tweet a funny quote that you know will get some replies and retweets. You wait a few minutes. Well, maybe you… Read more

The Empathy Exams

  Leslie Jamison’s essays in The Empathy Exams ask – and begin to answer – an array of important questions about pain, healing, and empathy. To list just a few: When does empathy actually reinforce the pain it wants to console? Can pain be actual and constructed at the same time? And how do we represent female pain without producing a culture in which this pain has been fetishized to the point of fantasy or imperative? Jamison frames her writing… Read more

On “Drunken” Christianity

Today, many Americans will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo, a holiday celebrated in America and Mexico that commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory in the Battle of Pueblo. In America, most of the celebration is accompanied by copious amounts of partying. Unlike most Americans, I see today as a different sort of holiday: the 201st birthday of Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard’s thought offers an interesting reflection for us on this tequila-drenched holiday. For Kierkegaard, the Modern Age has ushered in a state… Read more


Browse Our Archives