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...]

Sabbatical

I'm taking a breather. I've tried a noise fast unsuccessfully in the past: no social media, broadcast media, etc. I couldn't hack it.This time I'm going to do it a bit differently. I'm going to put my blog on hiatus for a bit (longer than Phil Robertson's benching) and discontinue use of social media. No Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram for a while.In the meantime, I'm going to read novels, listen to jazz, and ride my bike. If the world blows up or the pope becomes Hindu, send a pigeon. … [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...]

What Barton and Copeland get wrong about war and faith

barton and copeland

In this video Kenneth Copeland and David Barton argue that soldiers returning from war should not suffer PTSD or self-condemnation because of their experiences. I know they mean well, but their treatment of the scripture is baffling."Look how many people in Hebrews 11 faith hall of fame are warriors," says Barton."Almost the whole list, man," says Copeland."The whole thing," affirms Barton.But, no, not actually. Here are the individuals listed in Hebrews 11:Abel, not a … [Read more...]

George Orwell and bending the Bible for our own purposes

George Orwell

Florence King once called George Orwell “Every conservative’s favorite liberal and every liberal’s favorite conservative.” Why? Conservatives invoke his critiques of totalitarianism. Progressives appeal to his attacks on reactionary politics. Orwell is easily bent to many ends -- like the Bible.Here's an enlightening quote from a review in The New Statesman:Since whoever we are (save for a few sad Leninists) we all agree with George Orwell, it usually follows that Orwell must agree w … [Read more...]

Why moving stinks and staying is better

moving

Ben Franklin once said that "three removes is as bad as a fire. . . ." He might have been understating things.Megan and I found a wonderful house, much closer to our church, family, friends, and familiar haunts. Happily, we had a contract on our own home in a very short period of time. The realtor was a rock star. The movers were great, too. But then it got crazy.I realize mortgage companies caught a lot of flak for offering loans to underemployed golden retrievers in days past. … [Read more...]

Read the Bible if you’re going to have an opinion about it

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has a list of books you should read. His selection concerns works of profound and lasting influence, such as On the Origin of Species and The Wealth of Nations.Topping the list -- not too surprisingly -- is the Bible. But curiously Tyson slanders the book. Why read it? "[T]o learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself," he says.It reminds me of a comment by Fr. Tom Hopko: If you're going to h … [Read more...]

Doh! Archbishop of Canterbury forgets what it means to become a Christian

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

While undertaking a revision of the traditional christening (or baptismal) service, the Church of England has pretty much negated the whole enterprise.Whereas once parents and godparents were asked if they "reject the devil and all rebellion against God," along with "the sins that separate us from God and neighbor," the new language prompts disavowal of "evil . . . and all its empty promises." It's a fine thought, but hardly an adequate baptismal renunciation.The revisions are, as the … [Read more...]

Have you seen The Island?

ostrov

It's a Russian movie (original title, Ostrov) about a young man who is forced during the war to shoot his captain. Right after the tragedy, he ends up at a monastery and begins a tortured life of repentance, which frequently drives his fellow monks to exasperation.The movie primarily follows the closing chapter of Fr. Anatoly's life. Regarded as a holy man, locals flock to him for his spiritual insight. In one scene a fearful young woman comes to him, hoping somehow for a rationale to … [Read more...]

Writing the best version of yourself

Writing the Best Version of Yourself

"Is there a way in which all of us are fictional characters, parented by life and written by ourselves?" asks James Wood in his book How Fiction Works. I read Wood's book several years ago now but remain fascinated by that thought -- particularly the notion that we in some sense write our own lives.There are external forces that shape us; we are "parented by life," as Wood says. But we should never lose sight of the internal forces at work; our lives are also "written by ourselves." It's … [Read more...]

A quick lesson in effective communication from Basil the Great

Basil the Great effectively communicating with and Prince Vasili III

Remember that time you confused Hemingway with Basil the Great? I was reading something by St. Basil the other day and was amused by the overlap."[T]he excellence proper to discourse is neither to hide the things signified in obscurity," said Basil, "nor to be redundant and empty, turning in all directions while overflowing randomly."Clarity and economy. The thought reminded me of Hemingway's comment on writing as architecture.In his day, Basil was a popular writer and … [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...]


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