March 13, 2017

William Turner, “The Slave Ship,” public domain So the Internet went up in flames last week over Ben Carson’s insertion of slaves into the American immigrant narrative in his first speech as Secretary of Housing and Human Development. Apparently, after speaking of the work ethic of immigrants in general, Carson said, “There were other immigrants who came in the bottom of slave ships, who worked even longer, even harder, for less, but they too had a dream that one day... Read more

February 22, 2017

John Guzlowski kindly invited me to respond to Danusha Goska’s essay on the relationship of Nazism and Christianity on his blog. You can read my response here. It’s overly long and a bit laborious due to my desire not to leave any point unanswered. Here’s the last paragraph: I don’t actually think that Danusha and I fundamentally disagree about the nature of Nazism. I think we disagree much more about how we should speak, as Christian scholars, about the role... Read more

February 19, 2017

when he warns that calling the media the “enemy” is “how dictators get started.” I hear so many people following President Trump’s lead in labeling the “mainstream media” as “fake news.” Mistrust of the media has built for a while, and Trump has fed on it and nourished it in turn. And there are good reasons to mistrust the media. They are made up of human beings as prone to error and bias as anyone else, though hopefully with training... Read more

February 18, 2017

In comparative discussions of violence in Christianity and Islam, one often hears the argument that the New Testament specifically is non-violent, whereas the Qur’an contains many injunctions to violence. This of course has the benefit of side-stepping the difficult question of how we compare the undoubtedly violent parts of the Old Testament to the Qur’an. On the negative side, it seems to imply that the OT is irrelevant for Christians, which obviously is not the case in orthodox Christianity. (Denial of... Read more

January 14, 2017

This article about the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle makes me want to watch the series, but also provokes some reflections on ways in which the series appears to differ from the book (which is one of my favorite sci-fi novels, indeed one of my favorite modern novels period). 1. In the book, the metaphysical speculations about alternative reality are front and center. The book does not feel, to me at least, primarily about “what would the... Read more

January 8, 2017

The 1979 Episcopal BCP’s lectionary reading for today excerpts St. Stephen’s long sermon in Acts 7 so as to read: “Then the high priest asked him, ‘Are these things so?’ And Stephen replied, ‘Brothers and fathers, listen to me. You are forever resisting the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do.” This misses out the long historical summary in which Stephen details all the ways in which the ancient Israelites had resisted the Holy Spirit, culminating in the... Read more

December 26, 2016

Rince Priebus got himself in trouble today by sending out a message referring to “the good news of a new King,” which many people thought was a comparison of Trump to Jesus. The RNC denies this, and perhaps the people who got upset really were reading too much into a simple Christmas message. What matters is that when we celebrate the birth of Jesus we are, in fact, celebrating the “good news of a new King”–a king whose kingdom remains... Read more

December 24, 2016

Check out this piece I wrote for my friend Joe Martyn Ricke’s website, a meditation on the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Read more

December 24, 2016

I ate lunch in Jerusalem twice this Advent. Not, alas, Jerusalem the city, but Jerusalem the excellent new Middle Eastern restaurant in my town, right up the road from the other Middle Eastern restaurant, which is called Babylon. So you can walk from Jerusalem to Babylon in about two minutes. Babylon is owned by an Iraqi, and Jerusalem by a Palestinian. I like them both, but I’m coming to like Jerusalem better. It may just be the cult of the... Read more

December 15, 2016

In a Facebook conversation a while ago, somebody linked to this 2012 piece by Conor Friedersdorf listing 21 things that Americans sometimes mean by the word “conservatism.” It’s a helpful checklist for me, because I think of myself as a conservative more often than not, but often don’t fit other people’s definition of one. So here’s how I stack up against Friedersdorf’s list: An aversion to rapid change; a belief that tradition and prevailing social norms often contain within them... Read more

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