Fast and Loose with Family Facts

First Things has started a new online feature I enjoy called "Family Facts." The series is described as "an occasional series of data presentations about family and religious practice and analysis of their role in maintaining civil society."  Given how much I love data and data visualization, I'm delighted.I'm not so delighted with the most recent installment on who children live with.  Here's the chart:See that note on the side, where it says "Figures for 1961 to 1967 have been i … [Read more...]


I've been travelling, so you'll have to wait until this afternoon for meaty new content, but, I had to share one quick thing.  While away, I went trawling through a going-out-of-business Borders, trying to find some quality, discounted books.  I didn't really succeed, in large part because terrible paranormal romances seem to have taken over all the shelf space.  (Where are E. Nesbit and Edward Eager?)  It's terrible to see the spawn of Twilight have taken over the YA section, but this is truly … [Read more...]

Miracles Case Study

As a follow-up to this morning's post about miracles and skepticism, I wanted to share an example of an extraordinary evidence that is hard to account for.  According to a video released online, China recently appeared to have two suns overhead.  Scifi site io9 asked a few astronomers to make sense of the data, but the scientists were semibaffled.  One scientist said: "This is not a common optical phenomenon that we're seeing here. I'm asking myself if this is an artifact of the lens, but if th … [Read more...]

Show Me a Miracle Marvelous Rare

Many Christians or religious people of any faith tradition, argue that miracles are compelling evidence for the truth of their religion.  There are plenty of atheist rejoinders -- the most obvious is that many religions claim the evidence of miracles.  Either miracles are the result of natural processes or delusions, which are plausible enough to fool a wide variety of people, or there is some kind of supernatural force, but good luck linking it to any single religion.Telling the difference b … [Read more...]

The Euthyphro Strikes Back

This week, The King and I blog (which is doing a guided reading through the whole King James Bible in a year) finished the Pentateuch. I've been keeping up with the readings, and I'm often struck by the strong contrasts between the passages in the Hebrew Bible and the Gospels and epistles I hear weekly at Sunday Masses.In the Gospels, Jesus speaks in parables, using specific examples to teach higher, more abstract lessons.  Most of the parables end using more general and universal language, w … [Read more...]

Picking a Lenten Discipline

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions about choosing a discipline for Lent! Your comments ranged from the very practical to the illuminatingly philosophical. And the clear majority of comments started with thoughts about food.The trouble is, I’m already a very picky eater with a small appetite. My meals tend to be bread (or bagels or pasta) and seltzer with fruit on the side. My friend Tristyn knew this when she caveated her recommendation that I join her in her Orthodox fasting by s … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (3/4/11)

--1-- I've almost made it to Spring Break (also known as lock-myself-in-a-room-and-write-my-senior-thesis-for-two-weeks-so-why-the-heck-is-it-called-break?), so I'll be able to catch up on neglected posts and comments soon.  Today I'll have a roundup of your comments and my responses to my plea for suggestions for Lenten sacrifices.  If you've been waiting to add your two cents, jump in this morning!  After that, I'll finally be able to jump back into the discussion Alex Knapp, Eli of Rust Be … [Read more...]