Different kinds of atheists

John Gray, author of The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths, is a different kind of atheist.  He is friendly to religion, thinks progress is a myth, and is skeptical of humanist ideals like freedom and knowledge.

This should remind us that just as there are different religions and different theologies within a religion, there are different sects of atheists:  libertarian atheists, Marxist atheists, scientific determinist atheists, existentialist atheists, humanist atheists, Nietzschean atheists, etc., etc.

So when we meet an atheist, we should ask, “what kind of atheist are you?”  Or, “what god do you not believe in?”  We Christians might not believe in that kind of god either.  In fact, the Romans persecuted Christians on the grounds that they were “atheists”; that is, they did not believe in the gods of the cultural pantheon. [Read more…]

The militia part of the Second Amendment

The Washington Post has a front page story saying that the Second Amendment had always been construed to refer to a “collective” right to own firearms on the part of state militias until 2008 when the Supreme Court ruled that it refers to an “individual” right.  This change in interpretation, the article contends, was because the NRA nefariously funded legal research that supported its novel position.

I think that argument is absurd.  Read the gist of it after the jump. But then I’d like to discuss the “militia” part of the 2nd Amendment.  Since the Constitution says that “a well regulated Militia [is] necessary to the security of a free State,” shouldn’t we have a well regulated militia, as opposed to a standing army? [Read more…]

Alister McGrath’s new biography of C. S. Lewis

The British theologian and apologist Alister McGrath has written a new biography of C. S. Lewis entitled C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant ProphetThe Washington Post has given it a rave review written by Michael Dirda, a critic I’ve appreciated for a long time.  I’m surprised but glad to see he is a C. S. Lewis fan.

Dirda praises Lewis’s scholarly writings on literary history–generally neglected by his fans but still highly respected in the academic world–and then summarizes McGrath’s take on Lewis. [Read more…]

Lent and Vocation

Daniel Siedell, in the course of discussing the Russian film The Passion of Andrei Rublev (1966), about an icon maker who returns to his craft when he helps a child, makes some important connections between Lent and Vocation.  (Notice too how Luther’s doctrine of vocation–with his focus on loving and serving the neighbor–is different from that of other theologies.)

Lent is an observance that reveals our weakness and failure in remarkable ways. Each year we vow to “keep” it better, each year we fail, often in unexpected ways—either in the mounting sense of pride we experience in our self-sufficiency, dedication, and discipline or in the despair that our failures somehow reveal God’s true assessment of us.

And so it is appropriate to consider vocation during this most sensitive time of the year, a time in which are reminded that we are unable to set aside those things that so easily ensnare us, like food, drink, Twitter, and sin. Lent reminds us that the Christian, as Martin Luther says, “lives not in himself, but in Christ and neighbor,” in Christ through faith and in the neighbor through love. Lent reminds us just how much we live in ourselves. And our work is one of the most explicit ways in which we do so. [Read more…]

Medal for drone warriors

The military has instituted a new medal, the Distinguished Warfare Medal, to honor great deeds performed by those who operate drones and other high-tech military systems operated from afar (such as, presumably, cyberwarfare).  The problem is that in the hierarchy of medals, the Distinguished Warfare Medal outranks the Bronze Star (which is given for valor in combat) and the Purple Heart (which is given for getting wounded).  The new medal has sparked outrage and ridicule from troops on the ground who have to face getting shot at, as well as veterans who had to put their lives on the line, unlike drone warriors.  As a result of the uproar,  military brass are reviewing the ranking. [Read more…]

Pope Francis on life issues

The newly-elected Pope Francis is, of course, the pope being Catholic, pro-life.  To the point of having a good answer for those who believe in abortion in the case of rape–he calls that the death penalty for the unborn (practiced in countries that won’t give the death penalty for the rapists)–and agreeing that politicians who support abortion should be denied Holy Communion. [Read more…]


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