The defining element in Christian art

Let me propose this thesis, drawing on the recent post about what Bruce Springsteen said about Hank Williams:  All distinctly Christian art must be, in some sense, about the agonizing struggle between sin and grace. Mere moral lessons, while perhaps commendable, are  not enough to be distinctly Christian, since Mormons, Muslims, and ethical humanists could agree with them.  And mere optimistic positive messages are not enough and may even be harmful, since they can create the illusion that we can… Read more

Pro-life dissident’s great escape

Chen Guangcheng is a Chinese lawyer who has been battling China’s forced abortion policy.  For his efforts, he has been in and out of prison since 2005.  After his last release in 2010, Mr. Chen has been under house arrest even though he has not been charged with a crime.  That means that his home is surrounded by armed plain-clothed guards who prevent him and his wife from leaving and from receiving any visitors. Last week Mr. Chen somehow escaped… Read more

What grates about the Secret Service scandal

Still more from that brilliant column by Peggy Noonan, America’s Crisis of Character: There is the Secret Service scandal. That one broke through too, and you know the facts: overseas to guard the president, sent home for drinking, partying, picking up prostitutes. What’s terrible about this story is that for anyone who’s ever seen the Secret Service up close it’s impossible to believe. The Secret Service are the best of the best. That has been their reputation because that has… Read more

Lutheran Anglicans

I met an Anglican priest the other day who, it turns out, was a big fan of Spirituality of the Cross and my other “Lutheran” books.  As I talked with him, I was astonished at how much he was into Lutheranism.  He explained that there is currently a strain in Anglicanism that is seeking to recover its Lutheran roots. He said Anglicanism generally has had four theological strains:  (1) The mainline Protestantism of the Episcopal Church in America; (2) Anglo-Catholicism;… Read more

The actual crisis in America

Peggy Noonan cuts to the heart: People in politics talk about the right track/wrong track numbers as an indicator of public mood. This week Gallup had a poll showing only 24% of Americans feel we’re on the right track as a nation. That’s a historic low. Political professionals tend, understandably, to think it’s all about the economy—unemployment, foreclosures, we’re going in the wrong direction. I’ve long thought that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy, that it’s also about… Read more

Springsteen on Hank Williams

David Browder quotes from a keynote speech Bruce Springsteen made at the SXSW shindig in Austin in which he gives his reflections on the great Hank Williams and the music of his tradition: I remember sitting in my little apartment, listening to Hank Williams Greatest Hits over and over. And I was trying to crack his code because at first it just didn’t sound good to me. It just sounded cranky and old-fashioned…with that hard country voice. With that austere… Read more

Should churches push contraceptives to their singles?

An evangelical conclave has recommended that churches encourage their single members to take contraceptives as a way to cut down on Christians getting abortions: Two weeks ago, younger evangelical leaders gathered in Washington D.C. to reflect about the shape Christianity should take in the world. Q, the conference hosted by Gabe Lyons, is one of the more interesting spots in the evangelical landscape. Self-conscious in its cultural (which is to say, not political) orientation, conference attendees are an interesting cross-section… Read more

“The war on terror is over”

Michael Hirsh, writing in the National Journal, in the course of a discussion of the Obama administration’s new Middle East policy quotes an unnamed State Department official as declaring that “the war on terror is over.” The Obama administration is taking a new view of Islamist radicalism. The president realizes he has no choice but to cultivate the Muslim Brotherhood and other relatively “moderate” Islamist groups emerging as lead political players out of the Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia and… Read more

Levon Helm

Levon Helm, the lead singer and drummer of the group so iconic that they just went by the name “The Band,” has died.  They were first known as Bob Dylan’s backup band, but they went off on their own and virtually invented the genre of Americana.  Their Music from Big Pink was one of my favorite albums back in the day. Here is a fine tribute from an excellent website (the home of, shall we say, Lutheran Anglicans):  Catch a… Read more

Christian perfectionism

Phil Humber of the Chicago White Sox pitched a perfect game last Saturday against the Seattle Mariners:  no hits, no runs, no walks.  He was only the 21st person in baseball history to achieve that feat.  It turns out that Humber is an outspoken Christian, like Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin.  See WORLDmag.com | Perfection | J.C. Derrick | Apr 21, 12.   Read more

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