What Can You Do in the War?

this republic of suffering

Given the way our discussion of pacifism has meandered over to a debate about martyrdom, what you want to "accomplish" with your death (and whether that's a coherent question), I'd like to recommend something for your summer reading list: Drew Gilpin Faust's This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War.  It's a fabulous book.  It doesn't presuppose that you're a Civil War buff, so casual readers have no barrier to entry, and it delves into a strange, tightly-circumscribed  topic, … [Read more...]

A Martyr for All Seasons

Two weeks ago, I had an absolutely lovely time reading A Man for All Seasons out loud in a coffee shop with a new group of friends.  In what I hope was not type-casting, I read the part of Cromwell. (ok, it was probably type-casting).  I greatly enjoyed the play (though I'm now going to have to put aside all the very nice spiritual reading people have recommended or lent me, so I can reread Wolf Hall), and there was one exchange that particularly struck me, just after More resigns his position a … [Read more...]

Can Lethal Resistance be Loving?

I quite enjoyed reading Logan Mehl-Laituri's Reborn on the 4th of July for the Patheos Book Club this month.  Mehl-Laituri was weakly religious, but, while serving in the US Army, he became more deeply engaged with Christianity and ultimately decided that his newfound faith was incompatible with his job shooting people.It's obviously an emotional as well as an intellectual journey for Mehl-Laituri, but since I tend to be an unfeeling reader, wishing for a little less personality and a bit … [Read more...]

What are we going to do about homosocial friendship?

Last night was the season finale of Sherlock (which I hope you were all watching), and, in one sequence, Sherlock and Watson end up handcuffed together.  As they clasp hands and start running, Watson shakes his head and mutters, "We're never going to hear the end of this."  Watson's frustration that everyone assumes he and Sherlock are, ahem, involved is shared by Maureen Ryan, who wrote at HuffPo that the "not-that-we're-gay" joke that follows around male-partners-in-crime (or crime solving) is … [Read more...]

Don’t Bring a Knife to a Book Fight

Whatever your religious affiliation, what's the first book you'd recommend to someone on the other side to open up a conversation to get them to eventually switch teams?In other words, your pick doesn't have to be a knock-out punch for your beliefs, it just has to open up a chink you plan to exploit later.  (Though if you've got a sure-fire book recommendation, for either side, by all means share).  I've certainly heard both sides cite the Bible.Back when I was dating a nice Catholic bo … [Read more...]

Beware of [YA Dystopias] Bearing Gifts?

This post contains vague spoilers for the Hunger Games trilogy.  I'm speaking in generalities about the moral development of some of the characters, but do not discuss any specific plot developments.  Consider yourselves warned.I really enjoyed the Hunger Games series (and had a great time dressing up for the movie) but I'm mainly pitched it to people in tragic terms.  Unlike many other YA dystopian hero/ines, Katniss is marked and warped by the cost of bringing down her society.  During par … [Read more...]

A Hell of a Review

I received a review copy of Tripp York's book (The Devil Wears Nada) free of charge, but I made no agreements about the substance of the review with him or anyone else.The Devil Wears Nada turned out to be a little out of my wheelhouse, since Tripp York is mainly addressing evangelical protestant conceptions of Satan, but I found it to be a mostly enjoyable read. Atheists or anyone else trying to pick fights over this aspect of theology will find this to be a useful rundown of the arguments a … [Read more...]


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