Obama’s Second Inaugural Address

A president’s inauguration address can indicate his vision for his next term, rally the country, and make his play for the history books.  President Obama’s speech had no soaring JFK moments (“Ask not what your country can do for you. . . .”) and even extracting significant lines to discuss was rather difficult.  The speech was unified by a “journey” metaphor and by repeating “we, the people.”  The president brought God into the climate change debate (he referred to God quite a bit, actually, mostly to his advantage), upheld the role of government as a collective entity of the people, made gay rights a part of our civil religion, and alluded to gun control without mentioning it in terms of “the safety of our children.”  What follows after the jump are some excerpts, a link to the whole speech, and a rhetorical analysis of its style.   [Read more…]

Contemporary poet embraces Christianity

One of the most important publication in the contemporary literary world is Poetry Magazine.  Its editor is usually a distinguished poet.  Lately, the editor of that periodical, Christian Wiman, stepped down from that position.  What is, perhaps, less known is that several years ago Wiman embraced Christianity.  He writes about that in a new book that will be released April 2, My Bright Abyss:  Meditation of a Modern Believer.  In his book of poetry Every Riven Thing, Wiman writes about his struggle with cancer that led to his discovery of God.  After the jump, read his poem by that name and an excerpt from a fascinating interview in Christianity Today. [Read more…]

Jesus and other punsters

The BBC has a wonderful article by Sally Davies on puns, basically a review of John Pollack’s book  The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics.  The article offers different theories of puns, most of them ludicrous.  (Why are “power” and “coping with despair” considered valid categories of explanation, while “because they are funny” is apparently not?) Puns have often been condemned, though they are used by by such luminaries as Shakespeare and JESUS (so there can’t be anything wrong with them).  The article includes some world-class puns.  Read it, linked below.  Here is a sample: [Read more…]

Stranger in a Strange Church

Philip Jenkins cites the prescience of science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, whose novel Stranger in a Strange Land, written in 1961, posits a church of the future that sounds strangely prophetic:

“At a time of social chaos, seminary reject Joseph Foster proclaimed a spiritual message uniquely suited for America, a nation that had always combined public puritanism with private libertinism. But why not combine the two instincts, creating a religion that spoke the language of fervent piety, while tolerating virtually any behavior? . . . . [Read more…]

Journalism as a picture of exceptions

Mollie Hemingway, in the context of a post on how the media completely ignored a huge evangelical youth gathering, quotes the great G. K. Chesterton on the nature of journalism:

“It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. [Read more…]

The nature of Hell

Something interesting I found exploring the Patheos neighborhoods:  A discussion from Ryan Adams (whom I assume is not the same person as the former lead singer of Whiskeytown) on the Eastern Orthodox understanding of Hell, which is defined as the suffering that comes from being loved by God and yet rejecting that love.  He talks about this notion in Dostoevsky and shows how that mysterious phrase of the Creed about Christ’s descent into Hell plays into this.  Read it all, but here is his conclusion: [Read more…]