For some it’s a con, for some it’s a game, and for some it’s a gnostic cult. And sometimes it’s all three at once.


I used to think that the audience supporting any given conspiracy theory was made up of three distinct kinds of people: Cynics, true believers, and hobbyists. That’s in the past tense because I no longer quite believe that. What I’m starting to believe, instead, is that any individual supporter of any given conspiracy is made up of all three of those things. [Read more...]

Smart people saying smart things (3.20)

Conor Williams dissects David Brooks. Robin DiAngelo on white fragility. Kevin Kruse on the corporate creation of “Christian America.” And Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess on the simplicity of consent. Plus, Christian leaders from across America come together to acknowledge that Franklin Graham is awful. [Read more...]

Republicans divided on germ theory of disease and the monstrous legacy of Dr. Jonas Salk

History's Greatest Monster. (Photo of Dr. Jonas Salk by Yousuf Karsh, 1956)

President Obama urged parents to vaccinate their children. As a result, for the past two days we’ve seen a steady parade of ambitious Republican officials denouncing the evils of vaccination and attacking the germ theory of disease, followed by another group of Republican officials trying to control the damage by arguing that #NotALLRepublicans think that preventing disease is a Bad Thing. [Read more...]

‘It’s the Apocalypse, Stupid’: Matthew Sutton on how ‘Bible prophecy’ and Rapture mania deform American politics


“My argument in a nutshell is that the apocalyptic theology that developed in the 1880s and 1890s led radical evangelicals to the conclusion that all nations are going to concede their power in the End Times to a totalitarian political leader who is going to be the Antichrist. If you believe you’re living in the last days and you believe you’re moving towards that event, you’re going to be very suspicious and skeptical of anything … that is going to give more power to the state.” [Read more...]

Smart people saying smart things (6.20)


Flannery O’Connor assesses Ayn Rand. Christian Piatt and Carolyn Dupont on churches grappling with equality. Jim Wright asks what it was all for. Claire Gordon interviews the victims revictimized by Bob Jones University. [Read more...]

The ivy taps on the window pane


A few things, including: Nicolae Carpathia plays a role in Iowa’s Senate race. The death of a master craftsman. Eshet chayil: Saba Ahmed speaks out, Teresa Fitzgerald reaches out. Infant baptism on the rise in the SBC. Jody Williams double-dog dares you. Thus, Calvinism. [Read more...]

Participating in deception: ‘Narrative can become fact’


Joseph Laycock’s description of “ostension” and the “corrupt play” dynamics that fueled the Slender Man stabbing seem accurate to me. I think this is an insightful way of grasping what happened with those two little girls and also a perspective that helps us to understand what went so horribly wrong with Jerad and Amanda Miller. It also helps us to understand the Satanic baby-killer fantasy that has deformed so much of American religion and politics. [Read more...]

Postcards from the culture wars

"Waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists."

“Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” [Read more...]