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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26 Oct 2020

The Longest Lent

Lent began eight months ago today.   Eight months ago I was in a cool, dark sanctuary, listening to my vicar say “You are going to die.” I didn’t know how accurate that statement would be for this year. We rose, row by row. Ashes were traced across my forehead, I returned to my seat. We rose, row by row, again going forward—this time to receive the bread, the wine. In darkness we stepped into

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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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30 Sep 2020

Freedom of Speech Round Table: Revising Our Definition of Freedom

As Christians, our relationship to freedom of speech is complicated. On the one hand, it is certainly a gift. C.S. Lewis once remarked in Mere Christianity that it’s good Christians cannot impose their views of marriage onto non-Christians, because Christians would not want Muslims to forbid drinking alcohol. In an ever-secularizing world, freedom of speech is a necessity: I have to be okay with the existence of acts of speech like “Immersion (Piss Christ)” by

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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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28 Sep 2020

Free Speech Round Table: When to Speak and when to be Silent

The July 7th publication of A Letter on Justice and Open Debate in Harper’s Magazine sounded an alarm: “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.” Glancing at the list of signatories, many of us will find figures we respect—or at least figures to whom we listen. Their letter argues against “swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.” It

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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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28 Aug 2020

Integralism as Default

The so-called post-liberal debate rolls on; as is to be expected in the midst of the greatest civil unrest and polarization many recent generations have yet witnessed. So long as present problems can be attributed to the status quo, then soul-searching will commence (hopefully on both sides of the ideological and class divide, but I would not advise holding your breath). And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Recent contributions from Sohrab Ahmari and

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A large suburban house with professional landscaping
19 Aug 2020

The Pandemic and the Experience of Vanity

The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,     vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What do people gain from all the toil     at which they toil under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes,     but the earth remains forever. (Ecclesiastes 1:1-4 NRSV) A month or two ago, I was speaking with a friend about the extra personal time I gain working at home.

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12 Aug 2020

On Lions and Injustice

“If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmund Tutu “If a lion could speak, we could not understand him.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations  As I was perusing my various social media feeds waiting for my son to finish his blackberries, I came across this quote, “If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Wanting more of

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24 Jul 2020

We Need to Talk About White Jesus

Image Source: Unilad, Emma Rosemurgey, https://www.unilad.co.uk/life/expert-says-this-is-what-jesus-would-have-actually-looked-like/  The American debate regarding White Jesus goes back at least to W.E.B. Du Bois,1 and surely further back to the founding of the Invisible Institution—the secret church of enslaved Black people.2 Yet, it has become increasingly pronounced now that protestors are forcing America to confront its racist past. Particular occurrences have heightened this debate, for example controversial activist Shaun King tweeting that “statues of the white European they claim

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Locked ballot box used in Carson, North Dakota on October 30, 1940. Photo courtesy National Archives and Records Administration. (USDA)
06 Jul 2020

The Right to Not Vote

If you’ve ever been to a neighborhood association meeting or a church committee meeting, you’ve observed something close to true direct democracy. When a decision needs to be made, a vote is taken. All those in favor of the proposition say, “Aye.” All those opposed say, “Nay.” Everyone gets a say, and the simple majority wins. It’s an effective way to do things on a small scale. However, this is nearly impossible on a larger

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03 Jul 2020

On Original Sin and Racism

A great thing about writing for Conciliar Post: any time I’m unsure of what to write about, all I have to do is read recent posts from my fellow contributors and without fail a) a writing topic is sparked by one of their pieces, or b) I find something I disagree with and decide to respond. Both are welcome sights. This time, it’s the latter and directed at AJ Maynard (my resident competition in facial

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01 Jul 2020

Trinity Brings Unity: Hope for a Divided World

Not long ago, my parish was offering the Prayers of the People as part of our Sunday liturgy. Worshippers were free to raise their own voices and add their personal petitions to those of the Book of Common Prayer. As we did so, two seemingly different prayers arose from our midst. One prayer was for the protection of police officers and first responders. Another was for the protection of protesters and all those seeking justice

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29 Jun 2020

Reclaiming Original Sin in the Face of White Supremacy

NASCAR’s recent decision to ban the confederate flag from their events, coupled with an increased willingness amongst policymakers to remove confederate monuments from the public square, has ignited much debate regarding what is, and is not, racist. The debate presents a question: Can honoring a socially relative symbol of family history and geographical heritage be objectively racist? Many say yes. Others say no. Indeed, members of my own family can be counted amongst those proclaiming,

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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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15 Jun 2020

Whose Side Are You On?

America is at war. Worldviews are clashing and the culture is divided. The rift penetrates even Christianity. Last week, Archbishop Wilton Gregory spoke out against recent actions of President Trump. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò then wrote a letter in support of President Trump. The left sees God on the side of justice, equality, systemic change, liberation, and progress. The right sees God on the side of law, order, hard work, family, morality, and traditional values.

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