Christianity: Use only as directed

In Graham Greene's novel The Third Man, people suffer and die because of diluted penicillin purchased on the black market in postwar Vienna. American Christianity is suffering a similar fate, though our diluted faith is practiced in the open for all to see. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat raised the issue by pointing to the conundrum of Bible no-no's flourishing in the Bible Belt. Social scientists affirm the positive connection between religion and several measures of personal and … [Read more...]

What’s missing in our conversation about marriage decline

In all the conversations around the decline of marriage I wonder if we are paying enough attention to the old-fashioned concept of sacraments. Christians have traditionally understood marriage as more than mere contract, more than mutual agreement, more than partnership. The church understands marriage to be a sacrament. That is to say, though not exclusively, a dispensation of God's grace for the transformation of the recipient. The endgame with sacraments is union with God by growing in … [Read more...]

I guess they redid the math: World Vision reverses gay marriage decision

Well, now. World Vision has reversed its decision on same-sex marriage and employee conduct, according to World magazine. Christianity Today reproduced a letter sent by WV, explaining in part, The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. . . . [W]e made a change to our conduct policy that was not … [Read more...]

What’s so bad about incinerating 15,000 babies?

The news from Britain that aborted fetuses were incinerated to heat hospitals is both shocking and banal. First, shocking: Over the course of just two years more than 15,000 humans living in a modern, Western democracy with protections for human rights were nonetheless disposed of and then utilized for their carbon. This is the inversion of ancient paganism. We aren't crafting wood in God's image. We are turning God's image into mere wood. It still amounts to idolatry, but the worship is … [Read more...]

What we can learn from Nikolai the Serb

nikolai the serb

God raises up prophetic voices from time to time, and it's our loss when we miss their appearance. One such prophetic voice was Nikolai Velimirovich of Ochrid and Zhicha. Many of us missed him because he was born in Eastern Europe and, though he ended his life in the United States, died more than half a century ago. Thankfully, there is a wonderful documentary about his life, Saint Nikolai the Serb. It captures some of his presence and importance, particularly to his native people but … [Read more...]

Duck, duck, goose: The real story behind the Duck Dynasty uproar

Phil Robertson

The whole Duck Dynasty imbroglio comes down to this: Phil Robertson blasphemed one of the few gods our culture really worships, sexual liberation and unfettered self-expression. Robertson did it with all the class of white trash (his phrase) and that made it more off-putting than it might otherwise have been, but he was walking into a propeller blade no matter how he said it. It is not a free speech issue. No one's speech has been hampered by the state. It's a moral fight. We're just as … [Read more...]

When good things happen to bad people

Nobody sits easy when good things happen to bad people. In George Eliot's novel, The Mill on the Floss, Edward Tulliver is so miffed about an enemy he dictates a curse he wants inscribed in the family Bible. "It's wicked," his daughter objects. "It isn't wicked," Tulliver snaps. "It's wicked [that] the raskills should prosper." Though we might not dare (or even think) to memorialize it in our Bibles, we've all felt Tulliver's indignation. And the anger makes sense. Often enough the … [Read more...]

Eliot Spitzer and the use of religion in American politics

Anyone writing a satire on American politics would be hard pressed to improve on the plot already oozing out of the New York City comptroller's race. If you haven't been following the story, Eliot Spitzer now finds himself running against a woman who claims she formerly secured prostitutes for the former attorney general's use. Inconvenience, thy name is Kristen Davis! Naturally, Spitzer denies Davis' claims, but his call-girl history reasonably prompts doubts. Shall we hold it against … [Read more...]

Zimmerman, Trayvon, and the tragedy of taking human life

As far as the Orthodox are concerned, the most fundamental reality of society is that people are made in the image of God. This has a bearing on how we see public policy, including matters of crime and punishment. My wife Megan and I have been talking quite a lot about the George Zimmerman verdict in light of this thought. Regardless of your take on whether he was justified in taking the life of Trayvon Martin, the fact is that he took the teen's life, and this is a profoundly awful fact. If … [Read more...]

When is a person a person? 3 libertarians debate abortion

If you have a spare hour (actually 50 minutes) and give two or more hoots about the abortion debate, it's worth watching this Reason-hosted conversation between Nick Gillespie, Ronald Bailey, Katherine Mangu-Ward, and Mollie Hemingway. Hemingway, as you likely know, writes for the excellent GetReligion blog, hosted by Patheos. … [Read more...]