Some Tools for Failing to Live Perfectly Well

Richard Beck of Experimental Theology had an interesting post up recently about purity and anxiety in progressive Christian circles.  I've excerpted it below:  [T]his "will to purity" doesn't just manifest in protecting sacred beliefs, it manifests in behavior as well. Both evangelical and progressive Christians doggedly pursue a vision ofmoral purity.For evangelical Christians moral purity will fixate on hedonism (e.g., sex, drug use).For progressive Christians moral purity will fixate on comp … [Read more...]

Terry Pratchett’s Morals and Magic [Radio Readings]

You can listen to “Fights in Good Faith,” my weekly radio program, streaming today at 5pm ET and tomorrow (Sun) at 1pm  I'll update this post when the episode is available to stream and download on demand. After Terry Pratchett passed away this week, I wanted to take some time to talk about how his Discworld books shaped my conscience. Every week, I put up a “Radio Readings” post, so you can track down the books, articles, and (this week) non-violent resistance movements that I cite on the show. … [Read more...]

Effective Altruism & Ethically Questionable Cookies

Earlier this week, I linked to the Yale Effective Altruists' writeup of my visit (my radio program on Effective Altruism and Christian Charity is here).  Today, Slate Star Codex has a post up that's a nice encapsulation of my discomfort with the more totalizing part of EA. Peter Singer talks about widening circles of concern. First you move from total selfishness to an understanding that your friends and family are people just like you and need to be treated with respect and understanding. Then … [Read more...]

Effective Altruism and Caritas [Radio Readings]

You can listen to “Fights in Good Faith,” my weekly radio program, streaming today at 5pm ET and tomorrow (Sun) at 1pm.  The audio is now available to stream and download. This week’s program is about the Effective Altruism movement ways to resolve tensions between its recommendations and the Christian aim of charity.  I gave a talk on this topic earlier this week as a guest of the Yale Effective Altruists.Every week, I put up a “Radio Readings” post, so you can track down the books, article … [Read more...]

Why Make People Derive the Rules for Sex Themselves?

I'll be sending the monthly update on my book Arriving At Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers that Even I Can Offer next week, and if you get the email, you can enter a lottery to get an early copy.  After I wrote a post on practical questions to ask about consent and coercion (and the way making a habit of these questions can develop your care and compassion), one of my commenters was concerned that telling people how to have sex more ethically is unethical, if I wind up implicitly condoning pr … [Read more...]

Ethical Sex: Paying attention to the consequences of “No”

A friend of mine shared an excellent essay with me on ways to understand consent.  Everyone is pretty familiar with "No means no" (even if the applications of sometimes remind me of what law school friends have sometimes told me about police executing unwarranted searches -- in one case, asking if they could search, removing the resident from the premises when he said no and cuffing him, and then asking the open door of the house, not hearing an objection, and walking in).  Still, it feels like m … [Read more...]

A Fired-Up, Fusty Witness to Christian Faith [Saints Bookclub]

In 2015, I'm reading and blogging through Ronald Knox's collection of sermons on Christian exemplars, Captive Flames: On Selected Saints and Christian Heroes.  Every Monday, I'll be writing about the next portrait in the book, so you're welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.The first sermon in the book is on Saint Cecilia, who Knox sees as a model for ordinary Christians, who may feel they have no particularly saintly challenges to face.  He contrasts St. Cecilia with St. Cath … [Read more...]