15 Feb 2019

Althusius, Symbiotic Man, and Reliving the Sixteenth Century

Introduction Back in December, historian Niall Ferguson gave a lecture in which he drew an analogy between today’s political polarization and the religious polarization of the post-Reformation sixteenth century, which as we know, led to a hundred-year decimation of Europe and culminated in the Thirty Years’ War. Ferguson’s analysis suffers from an overly materialistic focus, as secular historians are wont to employ, and fails to give due regard to theological motivations. This is forgivable since

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11 Feb 2019

Millennial Burnout and the Demise of Vocations

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

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07 Nov 2018

The Terror of Fascism

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.

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05 Nov 2018

When You’re Not Countercultural Enough

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything about the Benedict Option—permit me one more foray. Maybe I’m just beating a dead horse here, but it seems to me that this ongoing conversation gets at important issues surrounding the turbulent relationship between faith and civic participation in the modern West. Anyway, a few days ago, an anonymous blogger posted an extended review/critique of Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option” that’s worth engaging. It’s highly erudite

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08 Oct 2018

The Grace of God’s Immutability

For the last month or so, I’ve had a hard time writing anything substantive. Much of what I’ve written over the last few years focuses on the need for deference to the wisdom and insights of the past. I haven’t really seen any other alternative to the shifting, turbulent, incoherent landscape of modern life—all of which often seems to collapse into a Nietzschean nightmare of raw power politics. Whether or not we choose to admit

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24 Aug 2018

The Unity of Justice

As most of you are aware, there has been a recent sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. To say that it is devastating, for both those inside and outside the Church, would be an understatement. The Catholic Church serves as one of the stronger authoritative voices for Christianity in American culture, which means that this scandal not only undermines the Catholic Church’s internal authority, but also impacts the credibility of the Church as

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13 Aug 2018

Activism Without Pelagianism?

I read Wesley Walker’s recent article “Activism as Pelagianism” with great interest. While I largely agree with the conclusion he draws—that the Church’s first duty is the proclamation of the Word and administration of the Sacraments—I’m not altogether convinced that churches face an either/or choice. That is to say, I’m not sure the responsibilities associated with Word and Sacrament need be juxtaposed against active engagement with the challenges of contemporary life. In particular, I submit

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30 Jul 2018

Fear This, Not That

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

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16 Jul 2018

Cogs or Contemplatives: A False Dilemma?

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

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20 Jun 2018

The Sheep and the Goats

[This is an adaptation of Matthew 25:31-46] When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to

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15 Jun 2018

Power Perfected in Weakness: Luther on Politics and the Church

During the terror of the Third Reich, Martin Luther, the “German prophet,” was widely misappropriated for the ends of Hitler’s tyrannical national socialism and anti-Semitism. To be sure, Luther’s often bombastic rhetoric supplied plenty of ammunition that did not always require alteration to arouse its desired effect. The anti-Semitic legacy of Luther’s later commentary (e.g. On the Jews and Their Lies (1543)) is, unfortunately, perhaps the best-known element of his life. In a sense, the

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25 May 2018

The YRRM and the Separateness of the Church

The New Calvinists of the Young, Restless, Reformed Movement (YYRM) burst into the public consciousness with Colin Hansen’s 2006 Christianity Today article and follow up book.1 I have recounted some of that history before and will not do so again at length here. In short, the YRRM was essentially a recovery of the doctrines of grace, sovereignty of God, and Calvinist soteriology (i.e. TULIP), predominately by evangelical Baptists. Since its inception, the YRRM has been frequently

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27 Apr 2018

Scripture as “Language” and MLK50

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

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26 Mar 2018

A Brave New Post-Secular World

In my final semester of law school, I had the opportunity to take a unique interdisciplinary class—“Law, Environment, and Religion: A Communion of Subjects”—taught through the law, forestry, and divinity schools. There’s a great deal I could say about this course, but one thing in particular stands out in hindsight: the way my classmates responded to its content. Almost to a person, they agreed that the course provided a uniquely valuable opportunity to discuss their

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28 Feb 2018

Thoughts, Prayers, and Platitudes

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,

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26 Feb 2018

Book Review: “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos”

Jordan Peterson —the University of Toronto psychology professor who rose to prominence after taking a controversial stand against his university’s decision to mandate the use of transgender students’ preferred pronouns—has rapidly emerged as one of today’s most interesting public figures. Famed for his provocative YouTube videos expressing hard truths to young men, Peterson routinely stresses the evolutionary realities of life and humans’ place in the world. Given this pattern, one might expect Peterson’s recent book

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02 Feb 2018

The Enduring Relevance of Reinhold Niebuhr

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

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31 Jan 2018

The Controversy Over The Last Jedi Is Nothing New

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,

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20 Dec 2017

R.C. Sproul – A Former Protestant’s Gratitude

When I heard of R.C. Sproul’s death, my first impulse was to pray for his family and–since I am no longer Protestant but Catholic–for him. My second was to turn to my mother and say, “R.C. Sproul died two days ago.” Death has a strange, self-assured touch. Everything stops in its tracks, but the fact of it won’t register. Not truly a shock, it is more a suspension, a cessation of movement in the vicinity

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15 Sep 2017

Antifa, Jonah, and the Call to Love One’s Enemy

The horrendous racism, bullying, and violence displayed by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, is fostering dialogue on how best to respond to hateful and destructive ideologies. But for members of a controversial group known as Antifa, the time for dialogue – if it ever existed – is over.  For Antifa, alt-right violence must be met with greater violence, lest hate and bigotry prevail. This controversial approach to combating white nationalism contributed to thousands of dollars’

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