May 22, 2015

Mad Men has just concluded and various encomiums have followed. For David Letterman fans, the timing is unfortunate if only because Dave has to share praise with Don Draper. When Walter White rode off into the Albuquerque sunset, I don’t recall him having to be so generous. My own estimate, shared by the missus, is that David Simon’s The Wire is the best moving picture production ever made. It’s a cop show, yes. And that was my first reason not… Read more

May 18, 2015

Patrick Deneen’s comments about Indiana’s RFRA has been making the rounds but they leave me scratching my head (and wishing we lived closer to Ann Arbor). The decision by corporate leaders to take a political stand over a controversial issue is therefore of great interest. Corporations and business leaders almost always avoid political statements and announcements, recognizing that such declarations have the effect of unnecessarily alienating potential customers. Corporations live in constant fear of bad pub­licity that can ruin a… Read more

May 16, 2015

How many times when watching a tv show or movie do we see a man and a woman, on a first date, or after meeting at a bar, or striking up a conversation on a train or airplane, decide within the course of their chance meeting or initial outing to go to bed and consummate their attraction? The level of physical intimacy that follows a relatively personal exchange of ideas or identities has always struck me as disproportionate. When someone… Read more

May 13, 2015

The subject of the West’s treatment of non-Christians has come up of late, if only because President Obama tried to walk delicately around questions of religious pluralism in his remark at the National Prayer Breakfast. At the time the President said this (and received blow back because he said it): Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during… Read more

May 8, 2015

The reason for asking is that he doesn’t seem to be all that impressed with power, in this case divine power. But if you don’t like an all powerful God as Calvinists portray him, then you might also like your national government to be appropriately small and limited. Here’s one of the points that Olson made against Calvinism: I ask the Calvinist “Why do you worship God?” The typical informed answer is “Because God is glorious.” “But what does ‘glorious’… Read more

May 5, 2015

In his book, Bad Religion, Ross Douthat covers the resistance that “orthodox” Christians (Roman Catholics and evangelicals) provided to the secularization of American society. The convergence of “Evangelicals and Catholics Together,” according to Douthat, forged a “political and cultural agenda, which would seek ‘the legal protection of the unborn’ and defend the connection between ‘marriage, parenthood, and family’ while resisting euthanasia, eugenics, pornography, and other perceived threats to the American moral fabric.” But the alliance would not amount to much…. Read more

May 1, 2015

It looks like Ben Carson might need some help from John F. Kennedy. Southern Baptists have canceled an invitation to the surgeon and would-be presidential candidate to a pastors’ conference over discrepancies between his statements and Baptist convictions. Carson’s membership as a Seventh-Day Adventist is not the source of the problem, though it might well have been 100 years ago before many Protestants reclassified the Adventists as evangelical rather than a cult. The problem is that he has referred, according… Read more

April 28, 2015

I don’t like taking issue with a fellow historian and Patheos blogger, but I wonder if Thomas Howard may want to tone down his pitch for ecumenism just a tad. He writes about the recent visis of Boston Archbishop Cardinal O’Malley to Gordon College and concludes with this: Let me close with a challenge for leaders at evangelical/Protestant colleges and evangelical/Protestant churches who might happen upon this post: figure out what Catholic diocese you are in, and then invite the… Read more

April 24, 2015

Mark Shea tries to show the superiority of Roman Catholics to Protestants by arguing that Protestant opposition to divorce relies not on Scripture alone but also on tradition: One basic rule of thumb to understand in Catholic/Protestant conversations is that it is not the case that Catholics rely on Sacred Tradition and Protestants don’t. Rather, Catholics (and, by this, I mean “educated Catholics speaking out of the Magisterial teaching of the Church”) rely on Sacred Tradition and know they do,… Read more

April 22, 2015

The reason for asking is that the NFL franchise in the City of Brotherly Love has just signed Tim Tebow, the uber pious Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, to a contract. When an athlete has particular religious affiliations, believers tend to get a bit giddy, maybe even to the point of losing perspective. Consider the piece that the folks at Crux ran about Jordan Spieth, the champion at this year’s Masters golf tournament. Though only a graduate of a Roman Catholic… Read more

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