The Apostate and Me

I've finally finished reading "The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology," Lawrence Wright's extensive, exhaustive profile in The New Yorker. It's a fascinating, provocative and revealing look at both the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and the religious empire created by the late L. Ron Hubbard. One comes away with a less-than-flattering sense of Haggis, [Read More...]

Epiphany: One of us

If you look at the calendar for the coming week you'll see this word written in on Thursday: "Epiphany." That seems strange. Epiphanies don't seem like the sort of thing one can schedule ahead of time and plan for like that. "Good meeting, Jim, let's meet again tomorrow to finish up." "Fine, just let me [Read More...]

The Language of Religion I

"The language of religion," Atrios writes, is "something I don't understand. It's gibberish to me. When people start invoking religion in discussing issues they may as well be talking Martian. I'm not being insulting here, I'm just saying it's utterly meaningless to me personally." And of course there's no reason such language should be meaningful [Read More...]


When you find a story particularly impenetrable, confusing or disconcerting, sometimes it helps to retell it. This particular story was itself a retelling of an older story (the new version left out the whale because people seemed to find that episode too distracting). – – – – – – – – – – – - [Read More...]

Human readers

(One last thing on Niebuhr, then we'll move on, I promise.) Reinhold Niebuhr is regarded as a "Neo-Orthodox" theologian. The "neo" there doesn't mean that he presented a new orthodoxy, but refers rather to the way that his profound consideration of sin and human nature was a reassertion of the classic biblical and Augustinian views. [Read More...]

Only human

"Good pitching will beat good hitting any time, and vice versa." – Bob Veale Some interesting discussion recently in comments about human nature, specifically around the perennial question: Are people basically good? That's a perennial question, but perhaps not a very helpful one. The answer we Christians give is "Yes." And also "No." The Yes [Read More...]

Opposites attract, Part II

Early 20th-century idealism was based on an overly optimistic assessment of human nature. As such it received support from some of the "modern" and "liberal" theologians and church leaders of the time. This view of human nature wasn't compatible with the Christian view, and was resoundingly demolished after the fact by the Neo-orthodox theologian Reinhold [Read More...]

Opposites attract, Part I

I’ve been trying to reconcile two things that I don’t think can be reconciled, which means, really, I guess I’ve been trying to figure out what it means that these two things can’t be reconciled. You’ve probably heard of PNAC — the Project for the New American Century. The think tank desribes itself as “A [Read More...]