16 Aug 2021

The Bleak Gospel of Jordan Peterson

On paper, I am someone who should be a tremendous fan of Jordan Peterson. Like Peterson, I care greatly about the centrality of symbolism and narrative in human lives, particularly as bulwarks of meaningfulness in an increasingly chaotic world. Like Peterson, I reject the view that history is little more than a chronicle of illegitimate oppression. Like Peterson, I think the pop-cultural touchstones that move us most strongly are those that tap into universal structures

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21 Jun 2021

How Not to Write About Stephen King’s “Theology”

As a longtime fan of Stephen King’s sprawling stories—which, contrary to popular belief, run the gamut from horror epics to mainstream dramas like The Shawshank Redemption—I’ve often noticed that the specter of the sacred is never far from view in his tales. Whether religion is engaged critically—as in the hypocrisy of a fundamentalist minister—or sympathetically, as in the martyrdom of a prisoner who may be Jesus Christ, its presence looms large in the lives of

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24 May 2021

What Re-Enchantment Really Means

Out of all the Christmas presents I’ve received over the years, none so far can hold a candle to what showed up under the tree when I was ten: a thick paperback set of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I’d been raised on (and loved) C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and Tolkien’s intricate cosmos felt just like that, but more. Here was a sprawling world with its own languages and

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28 Apr 2021

Book Review: Face to Face: Meeting Christ in Friend and Stranger

One Sunday last year, as I was helping set up for outdoor church, my internship supervisor passed a slim teal book called Face to Face: Meeting Christ in Friend and Stranger across the altar to me. “This is for you,” he said, “It isn’t homework.” Wells is a very well known priest, theologian, and author, especially in Anglican circles—his book on Christian ethics was the core textbook in my seminary Ethics course—but for whatever reason

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08 Mar 2021

Book Review: “Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We’ve Left Behind”

I did not grow up on a farm. I was born a son of the Texas suburbs, eventually made my way eastward (with a brief detour to the Northeast) and now work in the very center of Washington, D.C. I am blessed with interesting work, a loving wife, a beautiful home, and all in all live an extraordinarily privileged life. But that wasn’t always the case. Historically speaking, we are relative newcomers to the American

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05 Feb 2021

Black Women’s Long Fight for Justice: A Review of Black Women’s Christian Activism

Black Women’s Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb by Betty Livingston Adams New York: NYU Press, April 2018. 240 pages. $26.00. Paperback. ISBN 9781479814817. For other formats: Link to Publishers’ Website. How did Jim Crow segregation affect Black women in Northern “liberal” states during the first half of the twentieth century? And how did Black women navigate this Northern world, which was thought to be the Promised Land by the millions of

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03 Feb 2021

What is Reformed Theology? A Review of the OUP Handbook of Reformed Theology

The year 2017 saw a flurry of publications on Protestantism, the Reformation, and its various theological traditions. Some were good. Many were merely opportunistic. The recent publication of The Oxford Handbook of Reformed Theology, edited by Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain, is not merely opportunistic. This volume is rather clearer-headed regarding its aims, organization, and content than many of those that made an appearance in the publishing frenzy of 2017. Though not opportunistic, I

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07 Dec 2020

Book Review: “American Awakening: Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of Our Time”

New theologies are on the rise in contemporary America. As seemingly far back as 2015, Columbia University professor John McWhorter described the emerging concept of “antiracism” as “a new and increasingly dominant religion. It is what we worship, as sincerely and fervently as many worship God and Jesus and, among most Blue State Americans, more so.” In 2017, journalist Andrew Sullivan wondered openly, “Is Intersectionality a Religion?” And earlier this year, Tara Isabella Burton argued

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28 Oct 2020

Review: Hear Us Emmanuel: Another Call for Racial Reconciliation, Representation, and Unity in the Church

Hear Us, Emmanuel: Another Call for Racial Reconciliation, Representation, and Unity in the Church (Doug Serven, ed.) is a collection of essays that addresses a variety of issues regarding racial inequality and the church in the United States. The compilation, a follow-up to Heal Us Emmanuel: A Call for Racial Reconciliation, Representation, and Unity in the Church (2016), is the attempt of a particular denomination (Presbyterian Church in America) to address these issues specifically within

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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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31 Aug 2020

DOROTHY AND JACK | Book Review

One reads history, either because of a fascination with prior events, or to learn something of human nature. In Gina Dalfonzo’s latest book, Dorothy and Jack, both readings are richly rewarded. It is a book which adds insight into the lives of both Dorothy Sayers and C.S. Lewis—examining the importance of friendship and providing a call to reconsider male and female friendships in the life of the church. The reader engages these questions as Dorothy

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17 Aug 2020

Infinities upon Infinity: Reflections on Borges’ Library of Babel

The Myth of Babel The Library of Babel is one of those seminal texts to which I must return regularly if I am to feel fully alive. Alongside works like Annie Dillard’s novella Holy the Form, this is art that is best read out loud and pondered, cherished—even venerated. For it informs us deeply of our distinctively human condition. It rips back the veil and exposes our woefully inadequate, time-bound conceptions of God (and God’s

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29 May 2020

“How to Be an Antiracist” – A Review and Reflection

Though How to Be an Antiracist is accessible to a general audience, it is rigorous scholarship by Ibram X. Kendi, professor at American University and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center. In this book, Kendi applies the important historical work of his first major publication Stamped from the Beginning (Nation Books, 2016) to practical antiracist endeavors. In this review I examine the contours of his argument and investigate his controversial claim that it

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28 Feb 2020

On The Law of Nature: A Demonstrative Method (A Book Review)

Niels Hemmingsen, On the Law of Nature: A Demonstrative Method, trans. E. J. Hutchinson (Sources in Early Modern Economics, Ethics, and Law, 2nd Series, Grand Rapids: CLP Academic, 2018), 202 pp. Over the past couple of decades or so, there has been a remarkable surge of interest in post-Reformation Reformed theology, with a particular emphasis on republishing previously untranslated primary sources. A natural result of this trend has been an accompanying enthusiasm for assessing early

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Bust of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
22 Jan 2020

Bonhoeffer’s Cheap Grace

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting to-day for costly grace (The Cost of Discipleship, 43). The opening chapter of The Cost of Discipleship features Dietrich Bonhoeffer in some of his best form as a writer. His use of paradox, irony, hyperbole, exaggeration, and sarcasm makes this one of the wittiest criticisms of popular Christian theology ever written. It also can make it hard to understand and follow for the

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29 Nov 2019

John Dupré, Human Nature and the Limits of Science: A Review

John Dupré was, at the time of this book’s writing, a philosopher of science at Stanford University (now at the University of Exeter) and was part of the so-called Stanford School of the philosophy of science. This book targets ‘imperialistic scientism,’ which Dupré defines as “the tendency for a successful scientific idea to be applied far beyond its original home, and generally with decreasing success the more its application is expanded” (16). Thesis The thesis

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Ohio State Library Stacks
13 Nov 2019

What We’ve Been Reading: Fall 2019

Here at Conciliar Post, many of our authors are avid readers. Below are some of the books we’ve been reading in 2019 along with a short review for each one. Feel free to join the conversation and offer your recommended readings. John Ehrett, Lutheran Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age (Perry L. Glanzer, Nathan F. Alleman & Todd C. Ream) The authors—professors at Christian universities—lay out a

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11 Nov 2019

Review of ‘The Devil’s Music’ by Randall J. Stephens

Randall J. Stephens. The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock ‘n’ Roll. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018. 337 pp. Hbk. ISBN 9780674980846.   Introduction Last year saw the publication of two landmark books about Christians and rock music: Gregory Alan Thornbury’s Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock (New York: Convergent) and Randall J. Stephens’s The Devil’s Music. The works complement

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06 Nov 2019

Book Review: Galatians: Freedom through God’s Grace

Paul’s letter to the Galatians has long held a place of importance for those seeking to understand the power of the Gospel. One of the first books of the New Testament to be written, Galatians forcefully presents many of the Apostle Paul’s most central ideas and themes of grace and justification, displaying in brief, impassioned terms the theological categories and concepts that would find later expression in his letters to Rome and Corinth. If one

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21 Aug 2019

Book Review: The Sparrow

Why is it absolutely essential that you read two books about Jesuits encountering aliens? I will begin to answer that question in part one of this (largely) spoiler-free review. Deus Vult? A Review of Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow The Sparrow’s opening pages describe a Jesuit mission to an alien world gone horribly wrong. We hear the story from Emilio Sandoz—the book’s protagonist and the sole survivor of a small group who first visited the

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