On April 15th, the world watched in sadness—and sometimes in quiet song—as vast portions of Notre Dame Cathedral came down in a blaze. Many mourned the loss of a place of such history and culture. But still more mourned the loss of a great bastion of beauty in the world. Tears were shed by some who had never even visited the Cathedral (my crying-averse self hesitantly admits that I was one of them), because we
Dogmatism, Open-mindedness, and Other Intellectual Virtues and Vices This was the title of a course I had proposed for the life-long learning program at Wilfrid Laurier University last year. The healthy enrollment in the class and the lively discussions in the six-week lecture series that followed suggested a deep awareness of the need for intellectual virtues like open-mindedness, intellectual fairness, integrity of mind, intellectual courage, tolerance, and intellectual generosity. There would also seem to be
Jordan Peele’s latest movie, Us, is an intense horror film that confronts issues of duality, identity, sameness, otherness, sin, and judgment, just to name a few. Part of what makes Us so rich is not just its carefully crafted storytelling, but its strategy of navigating weighty topics from different approaches: philosophical, social, psychological, and theological. This makes Us an excellent resource for theological reflection, with theological claims that are as bold as they are relevant.
About five years ago, I sat in a coffee shop reading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation. During the preceding weeks and months, I considered deleting my Facebook account on several occasions but never found the courage to follow through on my thoughts. I graduated from college in 2005. Somewhere around the second semester of my junior year, Facebook made its first appearance on my college campus. At that time, only users with a valid
Over the last couple of months, I’ve greatly enjoyed reading the work of Catholic theologian Paul Griffiths (an erstwhile professor at Duke Divinity School). His most recent book, Christian Flesh, is probably the most extensive reflection I’ve read on precisely what it means to be an incarnate being—and more particularly, a baptized incarnate being. And Decreation: The Last Things of All Creatures is a sweeping work of speculative eschatology that considers the ultimate destiny of
Over the course of four days at the end of February, delegates from the United Methodist Church (UMC) met in St. Louis for a special session of the General Conference to debate issues related to same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy. These topics had been debated before in the UMC at prior global church meetings, but the denomination had always voted to retain the traditional language of the Book of Disciple on matters
By now, thousands of people have read Anne Helen Petersen’s widely-shared BuzzFeed News article, “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.” It’s a well-written article, and one that raises some valid concerns about the future of an enormous demographic. But I can’t help wondering if the phenomenon Petersen is driving at reflects a deeper generational crisis than simply financial instability. At the heart of Petersen’s analysis is a harsh dichotomy between the promise of early millennial
It’s 7:00 a.m. and I reach for the snooze button. The alarm rings again at 7:09 a.m.—and let’s be real—at 7:18 a.m., too. As I slowly rouse myself to put the kettle on, the day’s tasks fill my mind. With few exceptions, I struggle to get to bed before midnight. I’ve developed this tendency from my college years, then from choosing to work late when I began telecommuting, and from staying out late on the
I first caught a glimpse of him through the doorbell camera at church. He looked cold and a little scraggly, and when I went to open the door, he was shorter than I expected. But there he was: the Son of God in human flesh. We talked for a while, as anyone might when they have the chance to speak with someone so important and famous. We talked about theology, about the church, about the
If I read as many books as most men do, I would be as dull-witted as they are… -Thomas Hobbes Since the English translation of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing in 2014, she has become an international superstar. The book has sold over two million copies and has now been translated into more than thirty languages. She even has her own Netflix
The first time I heard Twenty One Pilots’ “Guns for Hands,” I was hooked. The engaging melody, catchy chorus, and fun beats drew me in. And I soon realized that I was not the only fan of the quirky musical duo. Over the past few years, Twenty One PIlots has skyrocketed to the tops of charts. Their large reception led Rolling Stone to describe them as “the biggest new band of the past year” (referring
I recently had the pleasure of reading Leah Libresco’s fine new book Building the Benedict Option: A Guide to Gathering Two or Three Together in His Name. Despite the title, the book has very little to do with large-scale questions of Western civilization or the future of Christianity in a secularizing age. Instead, it’s something far simpler and more refreshing: a straightforward how-to guide for building “thick” Christian community with one’s friends and neighbors. It’s
Note: This review does not spoil key plot points. The Florida Project was the best film of 2017. I have been waiting for some time to write my review; the gravity of this film’s message demanded both multiple viewings and careful reflection. I can now say that Sean Baker has put together a magnificent and enduring work of art. The Florida Project is a gritty take on the elusivity and hollowness of the American dream.
Just two weeks ago, the US was the site of horrific terror. Two people were murdered in what appears to be a racially motivated shooting in Kentucky; members of a synagogue in Pittsburgh were the victims of what may be the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history; pipe bombs were mailed to prominent critics of Donald Trump. These acts of violence are not blips on the radar and they did not happen in a vacuum.
On Nakedness and Shame Human beings show an almost universal desire to conceal certain parts of their body from the gaze of others, especially persons of the opposite sex. We react instantaneously and spontaneously to try and hide our nakedness. But why do we respond in such a way, and why do we feel shame if we are exposed to the gaze of others? Jean-Paul Sartre and Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II)
There is an inherent order to creation that becomes apparent when we slow down, set aside results-driven frameworks, and simply observe. For instance, a student of mine recently shared that the Iroquois people claimed to have been taught maple syrup extraction “by the squirrel.” While many dismissed this story as useless babble, a 1992 study observed red squirrels systematically tapping maple syrup via “chisel-like grooves.” It represents a profound failure of imagination that we tend
A life without suffering is no life at all. Like many of a certain age here in America, my childhood was perfect. I had everything I could ask for—from a supportive family to a consistent stream of toys, video games, and collectibles to keep me occupied. I had money of my own to spend (mostly from generous relatives) and an excess of unearned confidence derived from the many who praised my “talents.” When I think
In many circles, leadership is a common buzzword. Politicians, company executives, social scientists, pastors, teachers, professionals, generals, people who give TED talks, and seemingly everyone else is talking about leadership—what it means and how it works. I must confess that I too am interested in leadership; from my desk, I count no fewer than six different books with “leader” or “leadership” in their title.1 While I’ve found such books to contain much valuable information, I’ve
I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room. —Blaise Pascal Quietude. Calm. Collected. Consistency. These are not the buzzwords of our culture of revolution. If they make it on to the radar, it is as unwanted intruders. To use one’s voice is a virtue; to remain silent, a vice. To be calm is thought to be apathetic at best,
For three years now, my wife and I have been debating remodeling our crumbling builder-grade kitchen. So far, uncertain of how long we will live in the house, we have put it off, glued the cheap linoleum back down, scrubbed the dated appliances, and waited. How different this life is from the life I now experience as I spend a few days with the Benedictines at Belmont Abbey. Here the kitchen is industrial, and the