In case you haven’t heard, social media has garnered quite the reputation. Whether you’re talking about the perniciousness of Twitter-fueled outrage, the placidity of hashtag activism, the propensity to waste hours of your life, the easy propagation of fake news, or the paucity of meaningful conversation, social media is often viewed negatively. But social media isn’t all bad. Or, at least, it doesn’t have to be. In its best moments, social media still accomplishes its
In 2000, sociologist Barry Glassner published The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things. An updated version is expected later this year. Glassner’s thesis is that American concerns about crime, drugs, child abuse, and other issues are not founded on data but are instead the product of the scaremongering tactics mass media outlets depend upon to attract and maintain viewership. Negative stories capture more clicks, more eyeballs, and generate more conversation
Confession: I’ve been an admirer of Ayn Rand’s fiction for a long time—almost a decade, in fact. I realize there are plenty of circles where this admission risks drawing a hailstorm of rotten fruit. Many folks have deemed her doorstopper-length novels to be turgid and overwrought, laden with unrealistic characters and numbing speeches. Plenty more have decried her philosophy of “Objectivism” as a hideously amoral version of Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake”—a social Darwinism
The 2016 film Me Before You stars Emilia Clarke as an awkward young woman who needs employment to help support her poor working class family. After losing her job at a local bakery, she applies to become a caretaker for the adult son of a wealthy family. The son, played by Sam Claflin, was an active and successful young man before being injured in a motorcycle accident that left him as a quadriplegic. The two
Introduction Early in The Dark Knight, Alfred describes the Joker in perhaps the most memorable lines of the film: Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. The Joker is characterized as someone who is beyond reason: crazy, deranged, out of his mind. His ostensibly pointless acts of violence and mayhem appear to reinforce this assessment.
Electronic dance music (EDM) certainly isn’t to everyone’s taste. All too often, producers of contemporary pop submerge artists’ raw talent in a sea of synthesized bleeps and burbles. The subculture is eccentric, to say the least. And there’s something painfully banal about the fact that pressing the “play” key on a MacBook constitutes an EDM “performance.” But though I never would’ve believed it a few years ago, there’s a profound beauty and complexity underpinning the
In “Floating in the Forth”, Scott Hutchison of the Scottish indie rock band Frightened Rabbit, sings, Fully clothed, I’ll float away Down the Forth, into the sea I think I’ll save suicide for another day We hoped this “day” that Hutchison sang of would be indefinitely deferred. We wished that Hutchison’s life, which was accompanied by depression, would not have such a tragic end. But on May 11th, we learned that this day had come.
Signs. Wonders. Inbreakings of the divine into the mundane. Transcendence foisting itself upon the natural order of things. Is this what Christians are talking about when we describe miracles? People often think of miracles and magic as synonymous. From this standpoint, miracles rupture the fabric of reality—poking holes in a static backdrop of predictable causes and effects. But reality is not as static or predictable as we assume. In his book Historical Consciousness, John Lukacs
Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990) was an English philosopher of history and an essayist who has always been considered “a bit outside the mainstream of the conservative movement.” It has been said that he was a thinker who went beyond politics. While he remains little discussed by modern conservatives, his writings, particularly on the nature of historical inquiry, remain prescient. Oakeshott may also offer guidance for issues now facing American Christianity, specifically the discussion surrounding the recent
This is the second article in a series of articles on music with artistic or spiritual significance. Artistically significant musical artists and bands rarely remain static in their craft. With each new album, they utilize new recording techniques, incorporate new instruments, experiment with new musical influences, and push the boundaries of their sound. Notable examples include artists such as Miles Davis who evolved his sound from cool jazz to modal jazz to jazz fusion, being
In 1996, Samuel P. Huntington published his work The Clash of Civilizations, an assessment of the post-War order, and famously predicted: “In the emerging era, clashes of civilizations are the greatest threat to world peace, and an international order based on civilizations is the surest safeguard against world war.”1 Huntington’s prediction may hold true, and in many ways has proven prescient, but economists and historians have recently begun speaking of a more pressing issue than
The relationship between Western Christianity and capitalism has occupied observers of the West for a couple of centuries now. Without a doubt there is an inextricable link between the two; many would argue there is a codependence. Others emphatically attribute the power of the West to the power of moral foundations of Christianity, specifically Protestantism.1 Over the past five hundred years, the “[W]estern model of industrial production and mass consumption left all alternative models of
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action,
Once Reinhold Niebuhr entered the spotlight he never left it, even posthumously. This is so if only because so many continue to lament his absence and long for someone to fill the void. This past year, a new documentary was released chronicling his life and influence. It featured both his most ardent disciples and strongest critics, all of whom seemed to love him. Niebuhr has puzzled even some of his biggest fans, which includes everyone
Christians are no strangers to ideological controversy. For generations, many have been inspired by the old story of a seemingly insignificant man from a poor village in the desert, who amassed a following of rag-tag nobodies to confront the most powerful empire of the day on behalf of the oppressed and downtrodden. He possessed supernatural abilities that enabled him to accomplish miraculous feats. The actions of this man and his followers would overthrow an empire,
This is the first article in a series of articles on music with artistic or spiritual significance. A few months ago, I received a $50 iTunes gift card. Choosing a track or album to purchase on the iTunes store is always a daunting experience. With millions of options available, selecting what to buy can be overwhelming. As a musician, I tire of listening to more and more of the same. With this in mind, I
The commercialization of Christmas is hardly news. Proclaiming a so-called “War on Christmas” is not enough for some, who ante up their virtue-signaling and cultural critique into announcing a “War on Advent.” In 2012, theologian Diana Butler Bass argued, specifically against Fox News, that the shopping frenzy before Christmas degraded Christ’s Nativity more than a cultural shift away from well-wishing “Merry Christmas” toward a more general “Happy Holidays.” Father Bill Olnhausen, a retired Orthodox pastor,
This is the second article in a two-part series on Protestantism. The first article can be found here. When the Augustinian monk Martin Luther penned his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517, it can be argued that Luther never intended to start a movement that resulted in splitting the unity of the Western Church. Given that Luther was excommunicated by the Church, I have met Lutherans who do not personally identify as “Protestant.” Luther never left the
I believe we suffer from a propensity to look at people with whom we disagree and say to ourselves, “That person can’t teach me anything. They are so wrong in how they think, so insufficient in their intellectual capacities, so distorted in their worldview, that I could not possibly see reality more clearly by interacting with this person.” Think of the political divide. Republicans decry working with “the other side” as a compromise of values.
Praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved (Acts 2:47 NRSV). This is the final article in a series of reflections on the early church as portrayed in Acts 2:41-47. The previous articles in this series are available in the author’s archives. Acts 2:41-47 paints a compelling and attractive portrait of the early Christian church. Founded on the