Flannery O’Connor’s impact on an unbeliever

Here is another excellent review of Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal, in Slate, of all places.  It’s by Marian Ryan, who begins by saying how she does not believe in God.  In addition to her thorough account of the book, with fascinating and judiciously chosen quotations, her review lets us see how O’Connor and her faith are getting inside the head of an unbeliever.

Some Christians say that O’Connor is too dark, too negative.  How do you account for her work being such an effective  literary apologetic to non-believers?

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“Why classical schools just might save America”

One of my many interests is classical education, on the elementary, secondary, and collegiate level.  A more common name for the classical education philosophy is “liberal arts,”  a designation that refers not to progressive politicians but to the Latin word for freedom.  The “liberal arts” referred to the kind of education to equip a free citizen of the Greek democracy or the Roman Republic, as opposed to the “servile arts,” the purely economic training given to slaves.  (Go to this website for more information and resources about classical education.)

Anyway, Owen Strachan in the American Spectator sees the connection between classical education and freedom.  And he sees classical schools as a way to “save America.” [Read more…]

More lost their insurance than signed up for it

Obamacare train wreck update:  First of all, the efforts to fix Healthcare.gov will not meet their end-of-the-month deadline for fixing the site.  Second, the numbers have been released for how many people have signed up for Obamacare insurance exchanges.  It turns out that far more people have had their health insurance policies cancelled because Obamacare makes them illegal than have signed up for the government-approved policies. [Read more…]

Why is Calvinism so influential and not Lutheranism?

There are lots more Lutherans than Calvinists.  And Calvinism has all of those scary doctrines like double predestination and the limited atonement, whereas Lutheranism is, well, happier, with its emphasis on the certainty of grace, Christian freedom, and its affirmation of the secular realm as God’s hidden kingdom.  And yet it’s Calvinism that has been so influential in English and American Christianity and the culture as a whole.  So marvels D. G. Hart, himself a confessional Calvinist and a perceptive scholar of American Christianity.  Read his ruminations after the jump, and then offer your own theories about why this is.

UPDATE:  Anthony Sacramone, former Calvinist who is now a Lutheran, has a very helpful response.

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Flannery O’Connor’s prayer journal

Speaking of Flannery O’Connor, her prayer journal has just been published, dating from her grad school days studying creative writing at the University of Iowa.  Her reflections on writing, her thoughts on her vocation as a writer, and her love of God are stunning.  After the jump, an excellent review by James Parker in the Atlantic, with quotations from the book. [Read more…]

Has America shifted to the left?

The recent elections herald a political shift in America to the left.  So says liberal columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., citing the overall defeat of Tea Party candidates, the victory of the pro-gun control, pro-abortion Terry McAuliffe in once-conservative Virginia, the “new progressivism” of New York’s newly-elected mayor Bill Blasio, and the victory of Republican Chris Christie who repudiated his party’s right wing. [Read more…]