June 29, 2021

Recent reports about sightings of UFOs does not trouble Mr. French. (Nothing actually seems to worry him apart from fundamentalists.) The mystery, the wonder, the humility that come with an awareness that humans are not the only rational creatures in the universe is exciting for the Dispatch columnist: belief in a creator God implies something else. There are exactly as many or as few advanced civilizations as God wills. He directs the creation of new life. In fact, it may… Read more

June 15, 2021

Death is the great leveler, not only in status but also personal animus. The death of someone despised requires putting some of that despite on hold, and possibly even overhauling past evaluations of the perceived antagonist. This observation may even apply to Donald Trump if he dies before Christ returns. Writers of obituaries are the people who do actually write the first draft of history and their judgments need to transcend what journalists and op-ed writers may have written about… Read more

June 7, 2021

Remember the kid in high school who snitched on the other kids smoking in the bathroom? It was an awkward moment if you were friends with the snitch, and probably did not enhance warm relations (unless you were also a snitch). But was there ever any kid who praised the kid who snitched, who went out of his way to get on the side of the informant’s moral indignation, and who praised the principal for suspending the offending smokers? Well,… Read more

May 28, 2021

Here’s the news about Russell Moore leaving the Southern Baptists Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission to join Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project: Christianity Today was founded by Billy Graham in 1956. In the 65 years since that time, it has served as a flagship publication for the American evangelical movement, serving the church with news, commentary, and resources. It has published the luminaries of each generation, including the theological voices that have shaped evangelical public life and witness. Today it… Read more

May 21, 2021

David French writes a weekly column at The Dispatch. Since he is an outspokenly evangelical Protestant, the kind for whom wearing your earnest faith on your sleeve is a virtue (but what do you do about t-shirts?), he regularly writes about matters of faith. About a week ago, Mr. French decided to worry about the effects of power and established institutions on Christianity — specifically, evangelical Protestantism: As I’ve written before, America doesn’t have a state-established church, but it certainly… Read more

April 28, 2021

In the category of timelines, notice what the conversation about race used to sound like. During the 2008 Democratic primaries, then Senator Barack Obama needed to explain his relationship to his Chicago pastor, Jeremiah Wright, whose remarks from sermons had gone viral. Wright had said and been recorded saying “God damn America” several times. That prompted Obama to give a speech about race that many still praise for its statesmanship, candor, and insight. One outstanding aspect of the speech is… Read more

March 5, 2021

The previous post included the observation that tracing the United States’ roots to a Christian source other than English Protestants (read Puritans) is not merely limited to Trump’s evangelical supporters. It is a notion that appeals even to Roman Catholics. What is more, Christians in fellowship with the Bishop of Rome had two chances at a Roman Catholic founding of America thanks to the colonial enterprises of both France and Spain. While the former worked and settled in lands identified… Read more

February 25, 2021

I appreciate Jeff Polet’s point about the problems of talking about an American Founding: A political “founding” is artisanship, and the artists are typically tyrants, for violence is the means of such fashioning. Many of history’s great “founders” have the reputation of being tyrants. One of the central problems for political thinking, therefore, is whether a just regime can ever result from unjust origins—namely, the application of violence in accordance with the vision of one person. This problem forms a… Read more

February 4, 2021

Many have faulted former President Trump’s 1776 Commission for not being historical and not even including any historians among its ranks. This misses the forest for the trees. Whatever someone thinks of the Commission’s report and the way it uses the Founding to understand American history, the way historical scientists and historical amateurs tell the narrative of American history matters to creating a shared identity and sense of meaning for people living in the U.S. If you locate the origins… Read more

January 15, 2021

During the era of Trump, lots of evangelical thought leaders have indicated they are not like the born-again Protestants who voted for the president or even like those pastors and religious leaders who comprise Trump’s circle of spiritual advisors. Since the protests and riots in Washington, D.C. last week, many of those same thought leaders are telling anyone who will listen that they are not like those Trump supporters on the mall. For added measure, the good, sensible evangelicals are… Read more

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