Your religion… is it bigger than a breadbox?


I've been meaning for a while to highlight an interesting project that Christian H has been carrying out on his blog: coming up with taxonomies for religions. And I'm a big fan of the reason he started this project: While trying to find ways to frame my understanding of different religions, and different individuals’ religion, is a worthwhile activity in itself, I would be lying if I claimed that my primary motivation was anthropological or psychological. Rather, I’ve primarily been imagining th … [Read more...]

Tell Your College Women Friends About Arete!


The Arete Seminar has opened applications for it's Summer 2015 program, and it seems pretty likely to me that I've either got readers who are interested or who know people who would be interested.  Here's the basics: The Arete Seminar provides an educational program for college-aged women that emphasizes democratic participation and leadership, sustainability, personal and communal responsibility, and intellectual excellence. It combines a top-tier liberal arts academic programming with a p … [Read more...]

Filing Down the Sharp Edges of Failure [Pope Francis Bookclub]


In 2014, I’m reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I’ll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.There are two paragraphs in particular from this week's chapter that give a pretty good impression of what Pope Francis is talking about when he titled this section "The Failure of Jesus" Our human tendency is to disguise all evidence … [Read more...]

A Rosary App from One of Our Regulars

rosary app

Following right on the heels of my guest post for Beeminder (on using that website's commitment contracts in spiritual life), Pedro Paulo Oliveira Jr., a frequent commenter here has taken a turn guest posting there, too.  He's outlining a Rosary app he's built, and the way he integrated it with Beeminder, so it can update your tally of prayers automatically, to keep you on the straight and narrow.  Here's how his project got started: Our popular Electronic Rosary app helps people to pray the … [Read more...]

7QT: Beautifully Built Things

heart rate proposal

--- 1 --- I always take pleasure in thinking about made things, so I especially enjoyed this article from the Kickstarter team on why so many Kickstarter projects have been focused on making a better wallet.  Apparently, they're a common starter project -- if you can manage to produce and ship wallets, you probably have the skills to Kickstart and deliver on the complicated project you really want to do: Using the wallet as a conceptual starting point isn’t just a Kickstarter thing, either. At … [Read more...]

“I like to ask: What is my opponent in love with?”

Ireland interview

Back when I was in Ireland, giving a talk on ways to have better fights about religion, I did a short interview with a local news outlet, and I've just found the video.  In our conversation, I talk a little about my own conversion, and why my approach to argument resembles Ender's empathetic approach to a fight: "In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it's impossible to really understand … [Read more...]

Trapped by Torture in Enmity with the World

hand door

Reading over more details about the Torture Report, I was reminded of a passage I'd just read in Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, in which Jonathan Shay tries to put his finger on just what it is that makes torture an abomination, rather than ordinary roughness or ill use: American soldiers literally felt tortured by their Vietnamese enemy. Prolonged patrolling in Vietnam led to a decomposition of the normal, the familiar, the safe.  Every familiar item of the p … [Read more...]