Blog drama

In the earlier days of this blog, we were renowned for the high level of discourse and the friendliness of our commenting community.  We had lots of different opinions and different sorts of people participate–conservatives and liberals, Lutherans and Pentecostals, feminists and gays, Muslims and atheists–but with a few exceptions everybody got along.  (Remember Little Buddha–something like that–the atheist who provoked extensive, in depth discussions about God and His existence, who eventually signed off thanking everybody for the personal support he felt and for the friendships he formed on this blog!)

Well, as the number of readers has soared, that sense of community and the friendly climate isn’t the same.  People tell me that they don’t comment anymore, due to their fear of hostile retorts, or that they don’t read the comments anymore.  I have valued the openness of our discussions and I have resisted all of the recommendations to rein in some of the threads and some of the participants.  But I have now started banning people. [Read more...]

My new book on the imagination

 I have published a new book, one that I collaborated on with Matt Ristuccia, an evangelical pastor in Princeton.  It’s called Imagination Redeemed:  Glorifying God with a Neglected Part of Your Mind. 

The imagination often gets mystified these days with its association with the arts and creativity.  We get into those areas in the book, but we are trying to recover a much more basic understanding of the concept.  The imagination is simply the power of our minds to conjure up mental images.  When you use your memory to recall past experiences, when you make plans for the future by visualizing what you are going to do tomorrow, when you daydream, when you dream, when you fantasize, when your consciousness is just running on neutral, you are using your imagination.

There have been quite a lot of Christian reflection on the faculty of the mind known as reason.  Other mental powers such as the emotions and the will have gotten significant attention.  But there has not been that much lately on the imagination, which, arguably we use more than any of the other mental faculties.  Older theologians, however, from Augustine to Luther, did address the imagination, as we go into.  After the jump, I will explain some of  what this book gets into and has to offer. [Read more...]

The Royals and the other playoff teams

After a thrilling 12-inning game that went back and forth all night, the Kansas City Royals beat the Oakland Athletics to win the American League wild-card slot.  That’s the first time the Royals made it to the playoffs in 29 years.  They were the first team that inspired me to start following baseball seriously–back in the George Brett, Freddie Patek, Dan Quisenberry, Willie Wilson era–when I was in graduate school at the University of Kansas.  So I’m glad.  It’s hard to imagine them going very far, but I hope they do.

Anyway, the playoff lineups are now set, and the games have begun.  After the jump, the first-round matchups and how I come down on the games. [Read more...]

The abortion talk

My daughter has published a brilliant article in the Federalist!  I am so proud.  From Mary Moerbe, NPR Forced Me To Have The Talk With My Six-Year-Old:

It crept up on me, but it was suddenly time to have the talk. I switched off the radio as I was driving my oldest daughter to a lesson, and slowly let out my breath. Obviously, my daughter was feeling things she had never felt before, and a quick glance was enough to tell me that now was a time she needed me to talk. She asked, “Mommy, what were they talking about, ending pregnancies?” [Read more...]

The island that time forgot

Back when I was in graduate school, I took a course on American English.  We studied the history and characteristics of the various American dialects, including that of Tangier Island.  This little island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay was settled by English folks from the Cornwall district back in the 1600s.  They and their descendants were so isolated–today it’s an hour-and-a-half boat ride from the mainland–that their language and culture have hardly changed over the centuries.

As a 17th century scholar, I have always wanted to visit Tangier Island.  So we did. [Read more...]

America at 238–what’s to love?

The United States of America is 238 years old today.  And, arguably, feeling its age.  The country is polarized, but nearly every faction (though for different reasons) distrusts the government.  Nearly every faction also (for different reasons) criticizes the culture.  The patriotic legends of our history have been replaced with shame about slavery and how white people treated the Indians.  The rest of the world seems to have little respect for us anymore.  Our intellectual and artistic contributions are dragging.  The one bright spot is technology, but we use it mostly for trivial reasons, and it comes at the cost of hacking, identity theft, and privacy violations.  Most people would agree that America is very messed up right now.  America is in the doldrums.   And yet. . . .

Chesterton said something to the effect that we love our country in the same way that we love the members of our family.  In spite of their faults, which we know all too well.  In fact, a family member’s faults and problems properly bring out more love, since we want so badly to help.

So as a Fourth of July exercise, bring up things that you still love about this country.   I’m not looking here for “how great we are” statements.  Greatness is not necessarily a reason to love something.  What are some characteristic things about America that, despite everything, make you love your country?   I’ll go first, after the jump. [Read more...]


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