The Size of Our Books Was Determined By The Size of the Average Sheep in the Middle Ages

Books are as big as they are because medieval sheep were as big as they were: [M]edieval books are no bigger or smaller than modern books, generally speaking. Gutenberg and the other early printers didn’t invent a whole new format for books, they just copied what people were already using. The question then becomes, I [Read More…]

Every Character in Winnie the Pooh Represents a Common Mental Disorder

From Flavorwire’s list of conspiracy theories about classic literary characters: In 2000, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an article diagnosing the denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood with psychiatric disorders. “On the surface it is an innocent world,” the article begins, “but on closer examination by our group of experts we find a forest where neurodevelopmental [Read More…]

Ignorance of Botany Is Ignorance of Literature

Anna Williams on how ignorance of botany can interfere with the enjoyment of literature: I can easily find out what the named flowers look like: here are tea roses, red and white pelargoniums, Jacobæa lilies. But when I’m reading in bed, I don’t want to get up and Google it. Even when I’m reading with [Read More…]

Sex as Natural Means to Commitment

Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage:  The modern sexual revolution find the idea of abstinence till marriage to be so unrealistic as to be ludicrous. In fact, many people believe it is psychologically unhealthy and harmful. Yet despite the contemporary incredulity, this has been the unquestioned uniform teaching of not only one but all of the [Read More…]

After You Die They’ll Eat Potato Salad

From Albert Mohler’s new book Conviction to Lead, The: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters: An old preacher . . . told a group of younger preachers to remember that they would die. ‘They are going to put you in a box,’ he said, ‘and put the box in the ground, and throw dirt on [Read More…]

What Flannery O’Connor Got Right About Epiphanies

Author Jim Shepard’s favorite passage from “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” highlights a sad truth: A moment of clarity only lasts a moment. Writers talk a lot about epiphanies—what O’Connor, in her Catholic tradition, called “grace”—in short stories. But I think we’re tyrannized by a misunderstanding of Joyce’s notion of the epiphany. That [Read More…]

The Wilderness of Childhood

Novelist Michael Chabon wonders whether denying children the freedom to roam is stifling their imaginations: Childhood is, or has been, or ought to be, the great original adventure, a tale of privation, courage, constant vigilance, danger, and sometimes calamity. For the most part the young adventurer sets forth equipped only with the fragmentary map—marked here [Read More…]

When Smart Theologians Endorse Dumb Hermeneutics

If you’ve been anywhere near the evangelical blogosphere lately you’ve probably heard that Rachel Held Evans finally published A Year of Biblical Womanhood, her lame Christianized knock-off of a silly stunt-book produced five years ago. I’ve read enough of Evans’ blog to know she has a low view of scripture, so I’m not much interested [Read More…]

Gardening and Governing

Gardening marks, as clearly as any activity, the joining of nature and culture. The gardener makes nothing, but rather gathers what God has made and shapes it into new and pleasing forms. The well-designed garden shows nature more clearly and beautifully than nature can show itself. And this can be a model of politics: people [Read More…]

How Puritans Became Capitalists

In his book, Heavenly Merchandize, Mark Valeri, professor of church history at Union Presbyterian Seminary, finds that the American economy as we know it emerged from a series of important shifts in the views of Puritan ministers: IDEAS: You’re saying that the market didn’t rise at the expense of religion, but was enabled by it? VALERI: You need to [Read More…]