March 27, 2019

Jemar Tisby repeats the refrain that white evangelicals who support President Trump are hypocritical: In the 2016 presidential election, exit polling tells us, about 8 out of 10 white evangelicals who voted pulled the lever for Donald Trump. This information came as a disappointment to many and, to some, as further indication of the moral hypocrisy of white evangelicals. Those who promote “family values,” espouse equality for all people and stand for biblical ethics chose to embrace a man whose… Read more

March 25, 2019

People with Ph.D.s do not make a lot of money and the perks of teaching at a college or university rarely bestow the kind of privilege that comes with being born in a wealthy, well-connected family or the son or daughter to a powerful politician. That does not mean, though, that academics identify with the ordinary people. University life and the paces of graduate school often expose the folks headed for Ph.D.s to the dynamics and culture of elite institutions… Read more

March 19, 2019

Do not get me wrong. The West, for all of its faults, is sometimes glorious display of human achievements. Sometimes Western Civilization is hard to define, but it has had many defenders. One was the political scientist, Samuel Huntington: the Western heritage is rooted in “Greek philosophy and rationalism, Roman law, Latin and Christianity,” a common culture with penchants for the separation of “spiritual and temporal authority,” the rule of law, representative governments, and civil liberties. In the post-Cold War… Read more

March 15, 2019

The National Association of Evangelicals, one of the major institutional outlets for white Protestants who coalesced around the ministry and institutions associated with Billy Graham, has issues a call addressed to the increasing awareness of sexual abuse in Christian circles. A Call to Sexual Purity and Child Protection has three sections, a code of ethics for pastors, another for congregations, and one more for church leadership. Here is a sample of the call’s instructions for pastors: Avoid sinful sexual behavior… Read more

March 11, 2019

Michael Sean Winters comes out hard against the contested comments of Ilhan Omar about Israel and its supporters and knows that Democrats can’t attack Republicans for hypocrisy and leave the Congresswoman from Minnesota unscathed: I can understand people’s frustration with having to call out Congresswoman Omar when we have a racist bigot in the White House. As ugly as her comment was, it was no worse than Trump’s post-Charlottesville comments about “both sides” having “good people” when one side had… Read more

March 8, 2019

When I was in college, I studied film and took a few classes in film theory and criticism. It never stuck and so I went more into the production side of film. One of the subjects that put me off was semiotics — the study of signs and symbols along with the study of the interpretation of signs and symbols. Don’t get me wrong. I liked good lighting, composition, juxtaposition, and editing with many of my film majors. But looking… Read more

March 6, 2019

Some Christians are uncomfortable either with their world or their place in it. The rise of anti-liberalism among some Roman Catholic intellectuals is one indication of it. Calls for radical Christianity, which have been around since the 1970s, is also part of such discomfort. If American society is not suitable or comfortable for Christians, then what might a Christian-friendly place look like? Roger Olson recalled his own Christian upbringing as one way that Christians avoided worldliness and carved out their… Read more

March 4, 2019

I teach at an institution where we try to give instruction in good writing across the curriculum. Since I am currently grading a first round of papers in which I am particularly on the lookout for passive constructions, I sometimes carry that sensibility into worship and notice the passive voice in places I’d prefer not to see it, such as the Nicene Creed. Here is a fairly standard English translation with emphasis on the passive voice: We believe in one… Read more

March 1, 2019

Chris Gehrz makes a case for historians producing podcasts as a way of reaching a larger audience and so bringing the fruits of historical knowledge to public debates. He has in mind Max Boot’s recent argument that debates about foreign policy have suffered because historians have abandoned scholarship for general audiences in favor of specialized, overly precise, books that no one except trained historians and graduate students will read. We are back to a distribution problem — how scholars reach… Read more

February 22, 2019

Today is the anniversary of George Washington’s birthday, a holiday that became collapsed with Lincoln’s birthday not to make us free but to give us a three-day weekend (for spending!). H. L. Mencken had a good sense for pretense, especially the way Americans (and humans) tend to revere and hallow mere mortals and turn them into divine-like beings (sort of like Jesus). Calling Washington an “indispensable man” is not exactly on the order of apotheosis, but it does dabble in… Read more

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