November 17, 2021

The claim “wokeness is like a religion” has become a standard one. “Wokeness” may be an ambiguous term—though I think most of us can recognize it as the overwhelming post-2015 emphasis, among progressives, on historical injustice and power relations, coupled with a rejection of traditional liberal values like freedom of speech—but many of us have developed a detailed familiarity with certain of its elements. There’s the account of “white privilege” that bears an unmistakable resemblance to talk of original sin…. Read more

November 11, 2021

Over at Cranach, my former literature professor Gene Veith has some thoughtful meditations on youth groups and youth retention. As a (somewhat) more recent product of teenage catechesis, I thought I’d weigh in on the question Veith poses at the end of the post: as a young person, what pulled you into the church, and what drove you away? To be sure, I don’t claim that my experience is necessarily representative of the median youth-group attendee—in reading back over what… Read more

October 22, 2021

On the recommendation of some folks whose opinions I trust, I recently invested seven hours of my life into Mike Flanagan’s new Netflix horror-drama miniseries Midnight Mass. Flanagan’s directorial approach isn’t always my cup of tea—I have a soft spot for good jump scares and nerve-jangling climaxes, and Flanagan is a slow-burn director—but I must admit, this series ended up worthy of the hype. (Spoilers throughout. There’s really only one big spoiler for this show worth noting, but you’ve been… Read more

September 27, 2021

One of the unexpected joys of having a small child is having the opportunity to read aloud all sorts of children’s books, both old and new, to my baby son. And one of the volumes that has gotten a lot of circulation in my house lately is David Gordon’s truck-themed The Three Little Rigs, a brightly colored retelling of the classic story of the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf. In Gordon’s fable, three tiny trucks build home… Read more

September 24, 2021

This month marked the passing of Episcopal theologian John Shelby Spong, the longtime Bishop of Newark. Despite my strong theological disagreements with him, I’ve always found Spong an interesting figure: Spong displayed none of the vacillation and ambiguity characteristic of those “deconstructing” their faith today. Instead, like a fever dream of J. Gresham Machen, he was quite confident in his radical proposals for internal reform—regularly prophesying that without dramatic doctrinal change, Christianity would disappear in the modern world. Out of… Read more

September 9, 2021

It’s become a matter of conventional wisdom that the Wachowski siblings’ Matrix film trilogy—which first blew minds in 1999 and careened to an explosive finish in 2003—can best be described as “one great movie followed up by two mediocre sequels.” The Matrix coupled a thoroughly creative “fight the power” storyline with a sleek cyberpunk aesthetic and eye-popping visuals. It was an exhilarating tale of liberation from the “machines” that control our lives, of awakening from unconscious slavery into an ethos… Read more

August 22, 2021

“Deconstruction” is back in the Christian news orbit. Former megachurch pastor and bestselling author Josh Harris—responsible for penning the rather notorious volume I Kissed Dating Goodbye—recently announced that he was offering a course on deconstruction (that is, a pattern of transition away from standard evangelical theology) for the substantial sum of $275, with a discount for anyone personally impacted by Harris’s own teaching. Under withering criticism from all sides, he yanked the course soon after, but it’s undeniable that there’s… Read more

July 26, 2021

From a certain distance, I’ve always been fascinated by the saga of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church. Helmed by charismatic—and controversial—New Calvinist luminary Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill swiftly rose to prominence as a thriving Reformed church network in one of the nation’s least-churched regions And yet Mars Hill’s implosion was almost as dramatic as its rise: Driscoll left the church following a spate of accusations of domineering and abusive behavior, and decamped to Arizona to found the Trinity Church (which has… Read more

July 22, 2021

At City Journal, essayist Tanner Greer has penned a fascinating piece on the political valence of the “young adult literature” (“YA”) that dominated bestseller lists in the 2000s and early 2010s. As he points out, these books tend to be characterized by a profound cynicism about the adult world and the ineptitude of those managing it. (The grown-ups, in short, tend to be rather like A Series of Unfortunate Events’s hapless Mr. Poe.) This impulse, in turn, has come to… Read more

July 7, 2021

Not long ago, I finished reading Samuel Goldman’s insightful (and already widely-discussed) new book After Nationalism; Being American in an Age of Division. Goldman’s book is a thoughtful extended essay on the idea of nationalism (as distinct from “patriotism” or simple love for one’s homeland); for Goldman, nationalism entails that if the motto e pluribus unum—one out of many—is indeed meaningful, the unum must be some intelligible unifying principle or other. And with that in mind, Goldman proceeds to trace… Read more

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