19 Jul 2021

The Ambivalent Earth

“Re-enchantment of the world” is one of those phrases that tends to frequently show up within certain aesthetically inclined Christian circles. However, unlike other buzzword-y concepts that often make appearances in conversations along these lines (“human flourishing”?), this one is at least somewhat easier to nail down. Charles Taylor, one of the leading exponents of the theme, wrote in 2008: [T]he boundary between agents and forces is fuzzy in the enchanted world; and the boundary

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21 Jun 2021

How Not to Write About Stephen King’s “Theology”

As a longtime fan of Stephen King’s sprawling stories—which, contrary to popular belief, run the gamut from horror epics to mainstream dramas like The Shawshank Redemption—I’ve often noticed that the specter of the sacred is never far from view in his tales. Whether religion is engaged critically—as in the hypocrisy of a fundamentalist minister—or sympathetically, as in the martyrdom of a prisoner who may be Jesus Christ, its presence looms large in the lives of

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24 May 2021

What Re-Enchantment Really Means

Out of all the Christmas presents I’ve received over the years, none so far can hold a candle to what showed up under the tree when I was ten: a thick paperback set of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I’d been raised on (and loved) C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and Tolkien’s intricate cosmos felt just like that, but more. Here was a sprawling world with its own languages and

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26 Apr 2021

Book Review: “The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos”

In a right-of-center journalistic landscape that seems, all too often, to have collapsed into a mass of indistinguishable pundits all saying roughly the same thing, Sohrab Ahmari has long been a more interesting presence. The first book of his that I came across, The New Philistines, was a lacerating indictment of modern art reminiscent of Tom Wolfe’s The Painted Word. And in the wake of his conversion to Catholicism—a shift chronicled in his engaging memoir

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08 Mar 2021

Book Review: “Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We’ve Left Behind”

I did not grow up on a farm. I was born a son of the Texas suburbs, eventually made my way eastward (with a brief detour to the Northeast) and now work in the very center of Washington, D.C. I am blessed with interesting work, a loving wife, a beautiful home, and all in all live an extraordinarily privileged life. But that wasn’t always the case. Historically speaking, we are relative newcomers to the American

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22 Feb 2021

Timeless Eternity Is Not Divine Frozenness

Over the last few centuries, God’s timeless eternity has not been a strongly emphasized divine attribute. For many Christians, this precept reflects a particularly troublesome Hellenistic influence, given that the Platonic tradition laid great weight on the immutability of the eternal Forms and their corresponding immunity to corruption and decay. A doctrine of timeless eternity, in the eyes of its critics, necessarily calls into question the ability of God to work in history or respond

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25 Jan 2021

The Passion of Night City

Like millions of other folks, I spent a solid chunk of my December holiday embedded in the eerily lifelike world of Cyberpunk 2077, the latest big-budget, open-world video game by Polish studio CD Projekt Red.  Heading into Cyberpunk’s setting—the futuristic Northern California metropolis of Night City—I expected a world characterized by rigid secularity. For all their philosophical meditations on the nature of humanity, canonical cyberpunk sources like the Blade Runner film series or Neal Stephenson’s

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07 Dec 2020

Book Review: “American Awakening: Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of Our Time”

New theologies are on the rise in contemporary America. As seemingly far back as 2015, Columbia University professor John McWhorter described the emerging concept of “antiracism” as “a new and increasingly dominant religion. It is what we worship, as sincerely and fervently as many worship God and Jesus and, among most Blue State Americans, more so.” In 2017, journalist Andrew Sullivan wondered openly, “Is Intersectionality a Religion?” And earlier this year, Tara Isabella Burton argued

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09 Nov 2020

Book Review: “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self”

The acclaimed novelist and essayist David Foster Wallace begins perhaps his most famous essay, This Is Water, with a memorable question: how would one fish describe to another the meaning of water? To a fish, water is so ubiquitous, so constitutive of everyday experience, that the question would be almost unintelligible. What, after all, would “not-water” even be? To a fish, water is the absolute horizon of what is realistically conceivable; it is, in the

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12 Oct 2020

Out of Libertarianism

It doesn’t take much political acumen to see that the sun of libertarianism is setting. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into the gears of globalization and exposed the weaknesses of supply chains outsourced to foreign states. Every day, the nightly news recounts the latest politically-charged interventions by Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon, and the backlash from both Democrats and Republicans alike. (A swarm of antitrust hawks is circling overhead.) The culture wars

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03 Oct 2020

Round Table: Free Speech

“How should Christians think about free speech?” We asked three of our editors to reflect on this question. Their essays raise fundamental issues Christians must wrestle through if we hope to facilitate real dialogue in our increasingly polarized society. These reflections center on the definition of free speech, when free speech becomes a problem, and what sort of action ought to be taken in our current moment. In the spirit of Christian charity, we have

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29 Sep 2020

Free Speech Round Table: The (Substantive) Christian Case for Free Speech

The problem of liberty is a frequent motif among right-of-center political commentators these days. According to a growing number of writers informed by the Christian (primarily Catholic) theological tradition, the “traditional” or “libertarian” American case for personal freedom—understood in the sense of an abstract commitment to certain procedural limitations or an ill-defined ideal of absolute autonomy—is no longer sufficient. Rather, any arguments for social policies or practices must be founded in a substantive account of

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07 Sep 2020

Book Review: “Live Not By Lies”

A lot can change in three years.  In March of 2017, I found myself sitting in my New Haven apartment, with just a few months to go before graduating from law school, penning a review of Rod Dreher’s buzzy new book, The Benedict Option. While I appreciated its diagnosis of modern thought and clarion call to action, I’ll admit that I didn’t buy into its full vision. Following the unexpected results of the 2016 election

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10 Aug 2020

Read Theology in Hard Copy

When I was in college, I considered myself an early adopter of ebooks.  I was delighted to learn that I didn’t have to lug around heavy volumes anymore, but could just toss my Kindle in my bag and be good to go. Plus, ebooks tended to be a lot cheaper than the tomes I’d grown up reading. Today, I still read a lot of books on my computer (like every other theology grad student in

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13 Jul 2020

Leo Strauss and the Longing for Deep Answers

In this moment of overlapping biological and cultural crises in the nation, I recently found myself revisiting “German Nihilism,” an extended essay by Jewish political philosopher Leo Strauss. Written in 1940, Strauss’s piece sought to answer the question of why talented young people, educated in the finest schools and steeped in the classical traditions of Western thought, might reject those traditions in favor of secular authoritarianism during the runup to World War II. Among all

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17 Jun 2020

“Apocalypto” and the Exhaustion of a Culture

A few weeks ago, my wife and I sat down on a Friday night to watch Mel Gibson’s 2006 action flick Apocalypto. I hadn’t seen the film since college, and back then I was far more interested in chase scenes through the Yucatán jungle and brutal battles with snarling jaguars. What struck me upon revisiting the movie, though, was something quite different. About halfway through the film, our hero—a hunter peacefully dwelling on the edge

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18 May 2020

Book Review: “Theological Territories: A David Bentley Hart Digest”

If you are the sort of person likely to pick up Theological Territories, you are probably also the sort of person who already has a fairly settled opinion—whether positive or negative—about its author. (I count myself in the former camp.) Unlike last year’s controversial That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation, this time around Hart isn’t writing for general audiences: Theological Territories is, for the most part, a collection of addresses and

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20 Apr 2020

Modern Art and the Sacramental Sensibility

Over the last five years or so, I’ve developed an abiding interest in that most mocked of things: modern art. (Last fall, my long-suffering wife spent about four hours longer in the MoMA than she would’ve liked.) The genesis of that interest was a book I read in law school (thanks to a Conciliar Post recommendation, as it were): Daniel A. Siedell’s God in the Gallery: A Christian Embrace of Modern Art. A few weeks

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23 Mar 2020

What Should Seminaries Be For?

I’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting on Timon Cline’s fascinating article from last year, “The School of Churchmen.” In particular, Timon raises an important question that, I think, all Christians would benefit from pondering at least once in a while: What should seminaries be for? This question is particularly interesting to me because it’s one that I repeatedly asked myself when I was researching seminaries for my master’s degree. Speaking from my (admittedly

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17 Mar 2020

Round Table: Do Animals Have Souls?

In Genesis 1, God creates the animals of the sea and sky on the fifth day and subsequently creates land animals on the sixth. On this same day God also forms a certain kind of land animal in God’s own image and likeness—humankind (Gen 1:26-27). As with the animals of land, sea, and sky, humans are told to “be fruitful and multiply,” but then receive a unique set of instructions from God: “Fill the earth

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