April 7, 2021

One of the profounder tragedies of adulthood is the loss of time for “big books,” those famous doorstopper novels we tell ourselves every year that we’ll read someday. In high school, I went through a phase familiar to many bookish teenagers—binging on classics one after another, from David Copperfield and The Canterbury Tales to more difficult fare like The Brothers Karamazov and Anna Karenina. But eventually, college and law school drew my attention away to other projects, and it was… Read more

April 2, 2021

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a deep and abiding love for natural history museums. I don’t mean the revamped modern ones featuring splashy touchscreen displays, video screens, walls of informational text, and an overabundance of cartoon dinosaurs. I mean the old kind—the ones that haven’t dumped their dioramas featuring hundred-year-old taxidermy, their rows of dusty glass cases collecting interesting specimens, and their dimly lit displays of precious minerals. In many cases, these museum collections tend to spill over… Read more

March 26, 2021

If you spend enough time around bookish young conservative types—particularly those of a high-church, historically-minded bent—you’ll soon come to see that more than a few harbor a sort of wistful longing for monarchic or aristocratic forms of government, or pretty much anything other than republican democracy. (At the margins, there’s some fascinating overlap with the far left.) Usually, this kind of thinking follows from reading copious amounts of Roger Scruton, Richard Weaver, Leo Strauss, or (more recently) Patrick Deneen. Critics… Read more

March 21, 2021

A few days ago, my wife and I settled in to watch Shaka King’s film Judas and the Black Messiah, which chronicles the little-known story of an FBI informant tasked with penetrating into the inner circle of Fred Hampton, leader of the Black Panther Party in Chicago during the 1970s. As a Black man himself, the informant is profoundly conflicted about the role he plays in Hampton’s eventual killing—a guilt that, the film leads us to believe, contributed to his… Read more

March 10, 2021

A couple of weeks ago, Nathan J. Robinson—whom I consistently find to be one of the most interesting writers around, even though I frequently disagree with him—penned a provocative meditation on a subject that’s near and dear to my heart: the beloved real-time strategy game Age of Empires. For those unfamiliar, Age of Empires is a late-1990s computer game that operates rather like an elaborate form of chess. Players control a small village of medieval townsfolk, who farm and fish… Read more

March 2, 2021

All things considered—but perhaps uncharacteristically for a Protestant—my theological interests have always tended more towards the historical and systematic than to the strictly exegetical. Philosophically speaking, over the years I’ve drunk deeply at the well of Alasdair MacIntyre, Paul Ricoeur, Brevard Childs, and those others who have insisted upon the fact that interpretation always occurs within a communal context committed to certain bedrock assumptions. That is to say, there’s no pre-theological “view from nowhere” or “objective” vantage point from which… Read more

February 17, 2021

Robert Zemeckis’s 2007 film Beowulf is a curious beast. It’s a PG-13 motion-capture/CGI hybrid, one that frequently strays into the uncanny valley while nevertheless packing in more gore and sensuality than Braveheart or Kingdom of Heaven. It was directed by the man responsible for Back to the Future and Forrest Gump, from a script coauthored by legendary fantasy author Neil Gaiman—the mind behind stories like Coraline and Stardust. And, well, it takes certain liberties with the narrative architecture of its… Read more

February 16, 2021

The Witherspoon Institute’s online journal Public Discourse—a key forum for exploration of the “new natural law theory” popularized by John Finnis and Robert George—has long had its finger on the pulse of important debates among those committed to traditional religious views on marriage, family, and culture. A few days ago, the journal published Toward a New Consensus: An Invitation, an extended appeal to social conservatives to work toward common ground in the service of shared ends. In so doing, Public… Read more

January 6, 2021

As a general rule, most right-of-center theological and political commentators don’t think very much of video games. Such thinkers tend to link modern gaming with the downfall of young men, characterizing such recreation (along with online pornography) as a dopamine-triggering substitute for genuine accomplishment. I’ve long thought this is an unfortunately facile take, one that contains elements of truth but that also tends to undervalue the genuine power of participatory storytelling (but that’s a subject for another time). In any… Read more

December 30, 2020

If there’s a single action movie I can say I was raised on—with the possible exception of The Blues Brothers and The Hunt for Red October—it would have to be Martin Campbell’s 1998 swashbucker The Mask of Zorro. Starring Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins, this updated take on the legendary Mexican folk hero sits somewhere at the nexus of The Count of Monte Cristo and Robin Hood, chronicling the last years of one “Zorro” and the mentorship and rise of… Read more

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