I haven’t had much direct experience with death. Only now, in my mid-thirties, have I gained a sense of anything remotely like permanent loss. Nearly two years ago a friend my age passed away from lung cancer. At the time we were both part of a reading group which had just finished a book entitled […]
Perhaps you’ve watched the interview in which Stephen Colbert talks about his faith? A couple of things said in the interview got me thinking about my own faith and the fine balance between hope and despair. This is partly due to the fact that at the moment I’m trying to make sense of the […]
Rod Dreher has written a graciously long response to my post from last week on his notion of the Benedict Option, which he begins by arguing that I mischaracterized. Dreher says that his idea—that Christians should retreat, if not withdraw, from mainstream cultural arena and focus inward on strengthening their own communities—is […]
I have developed a fascination with Rod Dreher’s blogging about what he is calling the “Benedict Option,” the idea that because American culture is entering a dark period of persecution of conservative Christianity, conservative Christians should turn inward to focus on revitalizing their own communities in preparation. This comes in the wake of the […]
In this remarkable column, a Catholic priest from Maryland interviewed 50 young adults whose names are on the roll of his parish about why they don’t go to church. As he notes with commendable honesty, their answers revealed deep alienation from Catholicism; they are not ignorant about the church’s teaching as much as they […]
What is responsible for the rise of atheism in history? According to Nick Spencer the answer lies in politics, not science. And it’s politics, he thinks, that explains why only 2% of American report being atheists, and why those atheists continue to be regarded more negatively than religious believers.
Spencer’s general argument rests on […]
How do we recognize the hand of providence? All historians have to confront this question in some form. Considered in literary terms providence is a trope, one emplotment of structured explanation amongst many. In the attempt to understand and explain the past historians offer scholarly stories in which evidence is intentionally collected, critically evaluated, and […]
Has triumphalism been defeated? That’s a purposefully ambiguous and potentially self-contradictory question. It may be safe to say that it has been seriously challenged, but you don’t have to listen to the news very long before you hear narratives of political, cultural, or religious triumph aired from New Delhi to New York.
In his magnum […]
Since Sources of the Self Charles Taylor has contended that ours is a fractured world. The world in question is that of the North Atlantic, including Europe and North America. The world in question is also a worldview in that Taylor has examined what he takes to be the trajectory of the moral and mental […]
The first song I learned by heart was Harry Chapin’s “Mr. Tanner,” (embedded below) a crushingly sad tune about a laundromat owner from Dayton, Ohio, who loves to sing. Here’s the first verse:
“Mr. Tanner was a cleaner from a town in the Midwest
And of all the cleaning shops around, he’d made his the best
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