Worst Theologian Ever?

I have a particular fondness for strong opinions, Best/Worst lists, and theology. You don’t often find all three in the same place but Fred Sander’s hits that trifecta in his post “Karl Bahrdt, Worst Theologian Ever.” (No, not Karl Barth, Karl Bahrdt.) A Lutheran preacher’s kid, Bahrdt started studying theology in 1757 in Leipzig, at age sixteen. [Read More…]

Where Can Silence Be Heard?

Audio ecologist Gordon Hempton defines silence as “the complete absence of all audible mechanical vibrations, leaving only the sounds of nature at her most natural. Silence is the presence of everything, undisturbed.” This natural silence, though, is becoming increasingly rare—even in the most remote locations: [Hempton] says there are fewer than a dozen places of [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…]


Justin E. H. Smith on words that can mean either one thing or its opposite: Antonyms, of course, are pairs of words that have meanings opposite to each other. Autoantonyms, in turn, are single words that themselves can mean either one thing or its opposite. This can happen either by convergence –e.g., the English verb ‘to cleave’ comes [Read More…]

Was the Alaska Purchase a Good Deal?

When Secretary of State William H. Seward purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867, the press dubbed the expansionist effort “Seward’s Folly.” Since then the conventional wisdom has been that history vindicated Seward and his $7.2 million investment. But a paper by economist David Barker argues that the acquisition wasn’t necessarily beneficial for the lower forty-eight: [Read More…]

The Greatest Force is Love

Jeffrey Wright uses wacky experiments to teach children about the universe, but it is his own personal story that teaches them the true meaning of life. (Via: 22 Words) [Read more…]

The Shape of Our Buildings Shape Us

In the journal Anamnesis, Wilfred McClay has an insightful analysis of urbanism and its relationship to conservatism. McClay notes that during World War II the British House of Common was destroyed by the German air force—and Winston Churchill had a very definite opinion about how it should be rebuilt: Churchill did not have a professional [Read More…]

Ben Franklin Did Everything

Maira Kalman posts a charming illustrated story about Ben Franklin and the nature of invention: I don’t think he was ever bored. He saw a dirty street and created a sanitation department. He saw a house on fire and created a fire department. He saw sick people and founded a hospital. He started our first lending [Read More…]

Moral Philosophy and the Case Against Twitter

In an amusing post that pokes fun at both Twitter and applied moral philosophy, James Anderson offers eighteen arguments “Against All Tweets.” As an Aristotelian-Augustinian advocate of natural law, I was persuaded by a number of his conditional proofs. But being first-and-foremost a virtue ethicist, this was the one that convinced me: Virtue Ethics Argument [Read More…]

Calvinism and the Seeker-Insensitive Church

In the quirky British online journal spiked, Dolan Cummings—“co-founder of the radical humanist campaign group the Manifesto Club”—writes that we have forgotten that John Calvin is a key figure in the intellectual making of the modern world. He provides a fresh outsider’s perspective on the Reformer, but it’s this part about why Calvinism is seeing a resurgence among the [Read More…]