Between Mercy and Cheap Grace: Martin and Douthat on the Synod

In between … Photo: "in the gutter" by Len Matthews (Flickr/Creative Commons)

As a newly appointed associate pastor, I found the e-mail conversation that took place recently between Ross Douthat and Jim Martin at America Magazine to be a breath of fresh air, both for its openness and honesty and for the sights I can glean from it.  Perhaps surprisingly, I found Douthat’s “less” pastoral approach more pastorally helpful than the “more” pastoral approach of Jim Martin.  Let me explain briefly.I was struck by Douthat’s perspective on how apparent mercy can sometimes work … [Read more...]

There’s More to Man in Interstellar and The Giver


Memory, like sleep, hath powers which dreams obey, Dreams, vivid dreams, that are not fugitive: How little that she cherishes is lost! –Wordsworth This article contains plot spoilers.What does the “science” in “science fiction” signify? I would propose that it is not astronomy or physics or biology, but anthropology: good science fiction explores the science of what it is to be human. I am reminded of this by two recent films that explore how our culture and memory shape our humanity. … [Read more...]

Breaking the Internet; My Heart

(c) Paper Magazine

 I have spent more time than I care to admit - by which I mean any time at all - looking at this photograph of Kim Kardashian and feeling annoyed. It took me a few moments of that time to figure out why, but here it is: I felt annoyed because I felt controlled, manipulated. And I didn’t like it. … [Read more...]

How Should I Die?


Brittany Maynard’s decision to euthanize herself has recently garnered much attention. A perhaps lesser-known but somewhat similar story was documented across the Atlantic on the Guardian. In the article, Paula Cocozza wrote about the relationship between Annie the palliative nurse and Jo the dying patient. Jo had planned to take the route of euthanasia, but the time spent with Annie seemed to have given her second thoughts. This is not a picture-perfect case. Jo hadn’t completely closed the doo … [Read more...]

Salvation History: The Two Percent


Redeemed humanity is still young. –C.S. Lewis We often think of human history in terms of centuries, and are impressed if a family tree can be traced back a few dozen generations. But on the grand scale of our species, we are the leaves at the top of a very bushy tree of life. So I learnt from the August edition of Scientific American, which was dedicated to human evolution. In old textbooks our descent is described in a relatively linear fashion: Australopithecus became Homo erectus became N … [Read more...]

Becoming What We Contemplate: The Risks of Violence as Entertainment


When I was a twelve-year-old, I wanted to be like Rambo. Often, I would don one of dad’s ties as a headband, wear a grey tank top, and run around with the ‘machine gun’ I had created out of PVC pipes. I would stay in character long enough to avenge an old friend, free every Prisoner-Of-War behind enemy lines, and single-handedly drive out all communists from my backyard. Occasionally, I would save the world from a zombie apocalypse (you’re welcome). Those memories came to mind a couple of weeks a … [Read more...]