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.
Once upon a time, there existed a version of Christianity that was irresistible. Over the years, however, errors and accretions have piled up, reducing to a shadow what was once a robust proclamation of the Good News of Jesus. But now, there’s a way that the Church can return to its roots and make the gospel great again. No, this isn’t another book about the corruptions of Catholicism that the Protestant Reformation overcame; it’s the
David Haines and Andrew Fulford, Natural Law: A Brief Introduction and Biblical Defense (Davenant Trust, 2017), 142 pp. Introduction A recent book by David Haines and Andrew Fulford, and published by the Davenant Institute, called, Natural Law: A Brief Introduction and Biblical Defense, seeks to acquaint Protestants with the natural law tradition as it was received and developed by the Magisterial Reformers of the sixteenth century and the Reformed orthodox of the seventeenth century. Natural
Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation, by Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain Importance of the book Michael Allen and Scott Swain have written (and Baker Academic has published) an important book. Let me highlight three reasons for its importance. First, they are seeking to recover and reappropriate what was an essential Protestant polemical claim early on, that Protestants are heirs of the catholic tradition. In a time when being
A New Birth and a New Death On Christmas Day in the year 800 CE, the Roman Empire was proclaimed to be reborn. The Frankish king Charlemagne, a fierce conqueror and the ruler of most of western Europe, had travelled to Rome, and there Pope Leo III declared him Roman emperor, his collection of loosely controlled lands being dubbed the Holy Roman Empire. The coronation was questionable for a number of reasons, not the least
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.
Wallace Marshall, Puritanism and Natural Theology (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2016), 144pp. H.L. Mencken once famously defined Puritanism as that “haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy!” Thanks to the work of Perry Miller and Leland Ryken, among others, the caricature of Puritans as “gloomy, obscurantist foes of science, merriment, progress, and learning” has been debunked (2). The popular-level image of Puritans always did owe more to Arthur Miller and Nathaniel Hawthorne than it
John Muir’s A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf chronicles his journey, oftentimes on foot, from Indiana to Florida and finally to Cuba. His adventure begins on September 1, 1867 when he departs Indianapolis by train for Jeffersonville, Indiana on the banks of the Ohio River. The next day he crosses the Ohio River and begins walking south from Louisville with minimal provisions and an interest in collecting local plants. In his journal, Muir says, “I
The early twentieth century saw, yet again, a renewed interest in the theology of Thomas Aquinas among Roman Catholics (for an overview of this ressourcement of Thomistic theology see, for example, the Introduction of Nicholas Healy’s book). Protestant scholarship on Aquinas, however, suffered from serious neglect, or worse, serious distortion during the same period. Among many post-nineteenth century Protestants, Thomas, because of his (justifiably) high esteem among Roman Catholics, was seen as one who must
Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad is a beautiful and devastating novel that centers on Cora, a slave in mid-nineteenth-century Georgia, as she tries to escape to freedom. This book has been the recipient of plenty of awards, including the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. While I’m no literary scholar, this book seems to deserve the praise it’s received. The Underground Railroad doesn’t pull any punches. The first chapter begins with a harrowing depiction of the
A friend and I recently conversed about possible positive appropriations of “open theism.”1 While initially ill-at-ease with the label, I soon began to understand why this movement has been so influential. In an effort to learn more, I read chapter three of The Openness of God (a seminal text for open theism). What follows is my critique. Metaphysics and Personhood Throughout this chapter, Pinnock goes out of his way to situate “metaphysics” in opposition to
The Book of Joy chronicles a series of conversations and interactions between two of the world’s great spiritual leaders. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the world’s most recognizable spiritual icons. Desmond Tutu was the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa. He won a Nobel Peace Prize and played an integral role in helping the people of South Africa move past the era of apartheid. In
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.
To take certain commentators’ reports at face value, the Museum of the Bible in downtown Washington, D.C. is just one small step removed from Ken Ham’s Creation Museum and Ark Encounter—an expressly sectarian environment cloaked in pseudo-neutrality. At least, that’s the line peddled by Candida Moss and Joel Baden, longtime critics of the project and authors of “Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby.” Echoing Moss and Baden, Vox writer Tara Isabella Burton similarly
Most “Bible movies” fall into two categories. On the one hand are saccharine, unchallenging films that cater to audiences’ predetermined tastes (anyone who’s ever browsed a megachurch library will immediately recognize the type). On the other are more daring secular takes that inevitably end up sparking some controversy or another (I’m reminded of Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” and Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings”). But every year or so, I revisit DreamWorks’ 1998 animated masterpiece “The
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
The world is charged with the grandeur of God I have always loved the morning. There is something especially moving in the cool fresh air, untainted by the day’s hustle and bustle; there is something so provocative in the dawning of light; there is something reassuring in human quietude and nature’s songs to its Creator. Surely when the psalmists wrote things like: “Oh LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”;
Peter Leithart’s slim 2016 volume The End of Protestantism outlined a bold vision for a post-denominational Christianity, but was skimpy on theological specifics. Now, Lutheran academic Gene Edward Veith and Lutheran pastor A. Trevor Sutton have answered Leithart’s call. Their new book Authentic Christianity: How Lutheran Theology Speaks to a Postmodern World is an ambitious, audacious case for confessional Lutheranism as a universal Christian denomination (or, in their words, a “metachurch”). Veith and Sutton go
Last week, Guillermo del Toro’s masterful film “The Shape of Water” won big at the Oscars. The movie took home not only the Academy Award for Best Picture, but also awards for Best Director, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design. As a longtime admirer of del Toro’s work—his 2006 historical fantasy “Pan’s Labyrinth” is my all-time favorite film—I was naturally delighted to see him receive the accolades he deserves. Make no mistake, “Shape” is
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