R2P: The Insanity of the White Man’s Burden

In a question about whether there was any situation in which a bombing campaign would be effective on the Syrian regime, Juan Cole, Professor of Middle East History, didn’t hesitate, “No.” Cole, an informed and levelheaded critic of Middle East policy, describes in bleak terms the complexity of the situation in Syria. Look at the map below, and the story about it, and one can easily see the complex and multifaceted nature of the country. It is an utterly manufactured state by the colonial powers … [Read more...]

Antoinette’s Babies: Radical Empathy, Radical Grace

 Religion in practice is always more beautiful than religion in words. In fact, from my study of Rob Bell, it has become clear to me that religion only becomes true in action. And there is no more beautiful example of this than what Antoinette Tuff did for Michael Hill. She loved him into lying down on the ground and giving himself up. Antoinette saved her “800 babies” by making Michael another one of her “babies.”The story of Michael Hill’s storming into an Atlanta-area elementary s … [Read more...]

‘Don’t steal my blessing…’ or Understanding the South

As some of you know I play Peter Pan part time, serving our church youth group, and frankly I have a ball doing it. We take a mission trip each summer and it’s often the highlight of my year. We go to different parts of the country, often to Indian Country, but this year to West Virginia. I wanted to have our group (eight adults and 28 youth), experience Coal Country and introduce them to the Scotch Irish and Presbyterian traditions of the South.We stayed at Bluefield College, Virginia. We t … [Read more...]

Ten Ways Meaning Helps Us

I received a lot of interest in my last post on “How Hedonism Harms Us.” The point was that a happy, selfish life actually does us harm, physically. Contrariwise, a meaningful life of self-giving brings us health, though it doesn’t always make us happy, at least in the short term.So it made me think: What is a meaningful life?Mistakes matter. I’m nowhere near a perfect person and I’ve never claimed to be. In fact, I rather like my mistakes and my faults. This is weird to say but it’s tru … [Read more...]

How Hedonism Harms Us

Before the last presidential election a group of liberal clergy came to me and asked me to help them in getting together a panel on social justice directed particularly toward the college age community surrounding my university. And I thought about it for a moment and responded by saying, “You know the real problem is one of moral values and hedonism. The behavior that I hear about and actually witness has much more to do with hedonism than with injustice. Why don’t you do a religious revival aga … [Read more...]

Bullish Times for Religious Progressives?

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics…” is sometimes used to dismiss statistical analysis, but in fact, when dealing with statistics that have gone through the rigor of multiple peer reviews, I would say that this really isn’t always true. Some statistical analysis is revealing because it is accurate, sophisticated and really does the job.My colleague, Tony Jones, in his recent post hails the new Economic Values Survey (EVS) as calling for bullish times for religious progressives, and progres … [Read more...]