A sallow-eyed look at the slow descent of David Brooks


David Brooks expects poor people to learn moral lessons from people like him. It has never occurred to him that people like him might need to learn moral lessons from the poor. Thus when he writes for himself and for people like himself, his columns read like a knock-off of Ecclesiastes, but when he writes about other (non-wealthy, non-white) people, his columns read like a glib, ignorant knock-off of Proverbs. [Read more...]

Niebuhr and Aristotle and Jay Smooth


You can learn a lot about ethics and human nature from reading the collected works of Reinhold Niebuhr, plus the Nicomachean Ethics, and, say, Stanley Hauerwas and Alasdair MacIntyre. Or you can just watch this five-minute video from Jay Smooth, which sums it all up and stitches it together quite nicely. [Read more...]

Again, ‘liberal theology’ is not theology as done by people with ‘liberal’ politics


I did not become an LGBT-affirming Christian because of some scholarly research on the best way to translate “arsenokoitai” or because I learned to interpret Romans 1:26-27 in the larger context of the surrounding sentences in Romans 1:18-2:16. Nor did I come to see the full equality of women in society and in the church as a Good Thing due to the excellent exegetical work of folks like Scot McKnight in interpreting 1 Timothy 2:12. All of that is fascinating, but ultimately beside the point. [Read more...]

War: Because, hey, what’s the worst that could happen?

"What's the harm ...?"

As jaw-droppingly awful as it is to realize that Bill Kristol hasn’t learned anything from his complicity in the biggest, deadliest blunder of a generation, it’s just as awful to realize that many others haven’t learned anything from that mistake either. [Read more...]

Why milllennialism is misleading the church


Don’t get me wrong — I think post-millennialism is a flawed theology. But if the Second Coming of Jesus is going to influence how Christians respond to injustice, I don’t want to hear us invoking pre-millennialist pessimism and saying that “Some things are not going to change until Jesus comes.” If that’s the only other option, then I’d prefer the post-millennial view: “Jesus isn’t going to come until some things change.” [Read more...]

Whovians and Whedonites, Niebuhr and Game of Thrones, plus other random geekery

The Small Council greets the new Hand of the King.

A Whovian watches “Firefly;” Niebuhrians watch “Game of Thrones;” horrible gendered T-shirts; the “shadow biosphere;” how ghost stories helped rediscover real history; and could the next Doctor be an American? [Read more...]

Know your millennialisms (and how to avoid them)


Religion Dispatches is a reliable site for smart commentary, and Jay Michaelson seems like an engaging fellow, but his latest RD article — “Why I’m Grateful for 2012, The Rapture, and Other Millennial Delusions” — is an unholy mess. Michaelson gets his eschatology scrambled, reversing pre- and post-millennialism, and thereby also garbling American history beyond recognition. [Read more...]

Obama and the ‘social justice tradition’ of American Christianity

Image via The Niebuhr Society.

Scot McKnight on the difference between the white Social Gospel and the social justice tradition of the black church: “A theology done from the oppressed and for the oppressed is not the same as a theology done from the position of power and privilege.” [Read more...]