04 Jun 2021

The Handmaid’s Tale and Human Dignity

“Cows don’t get married.” This line comes from the second season of the Handmaid’s Tale, which, to put it mildly, is a very difficult show to watch, for a variety of reasons. [1] It is said in the context of a concentration camp where “unwomen” – women deemed worthless by the tyrannical government, Gilead – are condemned to die a slow death while working to clean up radiation poisoning. Janine, formerly a waitress and sexual

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The Good Place
12 May 2021

The Insufficient Eternity of the Good Place

Welcome! Everything is fine. That’s what the wall in front of you says the moment after you die. Or, at least, that’s what The Good Place suggests that the wall in front of you says immediately after the moment of your death. Appearing on NBC from 2016 to 2020, The Good Place is a fantasy comedy series that traces the journeys of four “Good Place” residents (along with their celestial architect friend and his AI

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21 Apr 2021

Three Cheers for Cultural Christianity

It is presently in vogue amongst evangelical cultural elites to decry “Cultural Christianity,” or alternatively, “Bible Belt Religion.” Ray Ortlund’s tweet from April 12th encapsulates this mood. “I rejoice at the decline of Bible Belt Religion,” he wrote. “It made bad people worse—in the name of Jesus. Now may we actually believe in Him, so that our churches stand out with both the truth of gospel doctrine and the beauty of gospel culture. To that

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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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19 Feb 2021

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Several years ago, I tripped down an internet rabbit hole and found my way to an article by Laurie Penny, a writer for the British political magazine New Statesman, entitled “For many in my fearful, frustrated generation, ‘having it all’ means opting out of monogamy.” Penny’s argument is that polyamorous relationships, which she defines as “any arrangement in which you are allowed to date and snuggle and sleep with whomever you want, as long as

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13 Jan 2021

Just Justice

This article is adapted from a message delivered at Arise Community Church in Fenton, MO.   What comes to mind when you hear the word justice? Probably a lot of things, because justice has been a hot button issue in recent months. You can hardly get on social media, watch the news, read something, or make a TikTok without being confronted by conversations about justice in one form or another. But what is justice? What

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08 Jan 2021

A Year of Revelation

It is (nearly) universally acknowledged that 2020 was, to put it technically, a dumpster fire. A global pandemic, economic turmoil, political chaos, isolation from loved ones, and massive loss of life across the globe combined to make 2020 one of the most difficult years to live through, both literally and metaphorically. In this short reflection I would like to focus, though, on what we can take away from this year. To be clear, this is

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09 Dec 2020

Tell Me the Same Old Story

I once received an e-mail from a former parishioner. Catherine had been a star student in my youth group, and she was now enrolled in a fine Roman Catholic liberal arts college. I was delighted to hear from her, but alas, she wasn’t writing to catch up. She was having a crisis of faith, and she needed to talk. Her letter painted a candid picture of how her faith had run aground. She had taken

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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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26 Nov 2020

Religion is Downstream of Technology, Part II

The Dynamic Age (roughly spanning from the final decade of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century) was one of man’s liberation. Liberation from the outdated mores and the old superstitions, from agrarian life, from backwardness, and even from nature itself. Liberation came (or was promised to come) through mastery—mastery of the self and environment (and history). As part I attempted to show, this trend of the Dynamic Age, which radically changed

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20 Nov 2020

Infinite Human Desire: The Afterlife of The Good Place as Affirmation of Christian Hope

Image: The Good Place promotional material, Fair Use. Since I’m usually around a year behind popular culture (if not more), I only recently watched the final season of The Good Place. I’ll go ahead and show my hand immediately—I love the show and equally loved the final season. Often described by Marc Evan Jackson—the actor who plays Shawn on the show and the host of The Good Place The Podcast—as the smartest, while simultaneously dumbest,

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04 Nov 2020

Divisiveness on Conciliar Post

We live in a divisive time. As I write these words, the outcome of America’s presidential election is uncertain (and may remain so for some time). Regardless of the result, it will leave many unsatisfied and will further foment tension. Now is a fitting time to remind ourselves that, at Conciliar Post, our mission is to facilitate meaningful dialogue across Christian traditions. This is becoming more and more difficult. The reality is that our own

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02 Nov 2020

Religion is Downstream of Technology, Part 1

It is often said, and usually attributed to Andrew Breitbart—though he certainly wasn’t the first to say it—that politics is downstream of culture, and that culture is downstream of religion. But a brief look at the dynamic changes of the period spanning from the late 18th century to the early 20th century (sometimes referred to as the “Dynamic Age”) suggests that, in fact, religion (or at least, religious form and expression) is downstream of technology,

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22 Oct 2020

Freedom in the Flesh: A Reflection on Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations”

AAADT in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. Photo by Pierre Wachholder. link. “The rhythms are very strong now. They sustain everyone in the room. All are moving. The music seems to be coming from inside the people as if by their movement they are liberating the sound from within themselves.” Joseph Murray, Santería: African Spirits in America Sitting in the sold-out theater we await the beginning of the production. The space is elegant but not extravagant, with

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14 Oct 2020

Of Gnosis and Seagulls

The first time I read Richard Bach’s beloved novella, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I was charmed. This slim volume tells the tale of a young seagull, Jonathan, and his quest to master both the art of flying and the depths of self. On the surface, there’s much to enjoy. The story has a forthright, fable-like quality. The themes of youthful idealism, self-discovery, and growing wise are compelling and relatable. Even the grainy, black-and-white photos of seagulls

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09 Oct 2020

Can I Get a Hero?

I know the internet needs another article about the changes in the television industry like I need another recipe for slow-cooker chicken chili, but hear me out. Like many cord-cutting millennials, my husband and I have spent the last three years making our way through the critically acclaimed “prestige TV” of the last decade. This loosely defined (and somewhat pretentious) term refers to the serious, cinematic, dark, and novelistic television. Many claim that The Sopranos

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05 Oct 2020

The History Wars

In 2013, a headline at The Guardian by Tristram Hunt read, “History is where the great battles of public life are now being fought.” Hunt likely had no idea how prescient this was. More specifically, the great contemporary battles are over historical or cultural memory. That is to say, battles over our collective identity, values, and aspirations—a form of cultural sparring, it must be said, that can only emerge in a society that has been

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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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02 Oct 2020

Free Speech Roundtable: Speaking Freely in Christ

Let me begin with a confession: I do not know how freedom of speech should be legislated in a modern, democratic nation-state, and I will not do my readers the disservice of pretending otherwise. It seems probable to me that, in a fallen world, John Ehrett and Barbara White are correct: a largely unrestricted understanding of free speech is a substantive moral good and provides important safeguards against our sinful desire to control, coerce and

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01 Oct 2020

Free Speech Round Table: The Quiet Courage of Free Expression

Nobody likes free speech. This may seem incongruous or even controversial in a theological roundtable dedicated to weighing the relative merits and Christian response to issues of free speech, but I am convinced that it is true. Free speech guarantees that you will hear something you don’t like, or even that deeply offends and troubles you. You have to listen to mean people tell lies, sometimes about things you believe in. And despite this, I

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