03 Mar 2015

Freedom

Freedom, I’m told, is the absence of tyranny. I realized one day that everybody’s got an idea of the kind of freedom they ought to have, mostly inaccurate. History and human nature proves that humans have a strange habit of running straight to tyranny at the least provocation. It’s because we’re mixed up about freedom.  Without comprehending tyranny in its worst form, no one will cling to real freedom. Real freedom isn’t doing whatever we

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27 Feb 2015

The Hidden Drama of Late Winter

For years I’ve dreaded February as one of the hardest months of the year. Maybe it’s because Christmas cheer is by now a distant fog, or because the weather acts like a hard-bitten old man. Maybe it’s because of inner maladies—winter blues and the like. February was my personal season of spiritual crisis for some time. I recently learned that early February is part of the liturgical season of Epiphany. Not having grown up paying

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25 Feb 2015

Waterfall Moments

They say a waterfall is created when the softer under-rock erodes faster than the upper layer. As the soft rock is swept away, the hard rock is left unsupported. Eventually, it falls under its own weight combined with the weight of the water, and the waterfall moves upstream. Once the harder rock is all broken away, there won’t be a waterfall anymore. Just rapids at first, then a swift-flowing stream, then a gentle river. I

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05 Feb 2015

Self-Surrender

What is it that causes people to act against their own self-interest? Two of the most popular conservative thinkers of the last century both addressed this question at a very personal level, which seemed odd to me until I started thinking about it more. At the national level, this last century was the age of Communism, the Great Depression, and Holocaust clean-up, when people were talking in depth about the need to help those less

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26 Dec 2014

A Defense of Nagel, Part II

Author Ryan Shinkel offers the second part of his defense of Nagel, considering the philosophical role of the evolutionary biologist and Nagel’s understanding of the subjective life.

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24 Dec 2014

The Nativity of Christ

According to Webster, nativity means “the process or circumstances of being born.” For the Orthodox Church the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ does not focus on Jesus as a cute little baby in a manger. The Nativity of Christ is mostly about the incarnation of God. This season is about the union of God and man. “Sharing wholly in our poverty, You have made our clay godlike through Your union and participation

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16 Dec 2014

Round Table: Incarnation

‘Tis the Christmas season. Our music, parties, concerts and plays, nativity scenes, lights, eggnog, and (if you’re lucky enough) snow tell us that Christmas comes swiftly. Gifts are being purchased. Plans to see family are being finalized. The busyness and joys of the Christmas season are pervasive, even for those who don’t celebrate Christmas. But why do we celebrate Christmas? The “Christmas Wars” rightfully remind us the real reason for the season: the birth of

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04 Dec 2014

When My Impact Is Small

At a retreat several years ago, I had the chance to combine a few of my favorite things — great people and making music. Part way through one of our evenings, I pulled out my Mountain Dulcimer, was shortly joined by a Guitar, and we were shortly joined by a group of folks singing along. As we went around picking out hymns to sing though, I began to question the necessity of my contribution. At

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01 Dec 2014

Why Study Church History?

I recently completed my Master of Arts in Theological Studies at the University of Dayton. My emphasis was not in the traditional systematic theological studies, where I contemplated the Trinity, the Incarnation, and grace; nor did I focus on Biblical Studies, delving into the ancient languages, the context, and the literatures that produced what we understand as the Word of God (although I did dabble in Hebrew for three semester and can discuss the influence

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26 Nov 2014

Treasure of the Inner Life

“And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” And he said, “I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many

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19 Nov 2014

In Defense of Nagel (Part One)

The Problem of Consciousness in a Corpuscular Cosmos: A Defense of Nagel and a Critique of the Mechanistic Metaphysics of Intelligent Design and Metaphysical Naturalism In this four part series, I survey some of the reactions to Thomas Nagel’s recent book, Mind and Cosmos (2012), and use them to elucidate why most of them misunderstand his thesis; from there, I use Nagel’s writing as a springboard to give an overall critique of physicalist accounts of

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07 Nov 2014

Wild November Choir

Silent morning—a fog like the ghost Of autumn trees and brush and leaves Rises up to the skies, a wavering host Of spirits climbing to clouds, their winter post.   Farmers are nearly done gathering sheaves And stalks stand like sentinels—grave stones— Encumbered by rooks whose coarse song weaves Harvest into winter, as Earth her life heaves   Into barns and bins. She creaks and groans From the heavy toil of summer, spent, To lie

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15 Oct 2014

Whatever is Lovely

Art is a beautiful thing, and the ability to produce it is a wonderful gift from God. Whether it takes the form of music, the written word, hand crafted images, or even a film, a well-crafted piece of art can serve as an excellent manifestation of God’s good creation and the potential beauty of our world. However, the sinful nature of mankind frequently distorts and abuses the gift of art, as it has done with

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07 Oct 2014

Kierkegaardian Reflections on the Present Age

Some authors make a lasting impression on one’s mind, for good or for bad. For me, one such writer is Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55), whom I first engaged while an undergraduate at Valparaiso University. While reading Kierkegaard, one cannot help but be flummoxed by large portions of his prose—there’s simply too much there to engage in its fullness. You are like a kindergartener, who is desperately trying to make sense of a chalkboard filled with Einstein’s

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04 Sep 2014

Why So Teary, O Logie?

Robert Isaac Logie was born during the late half of the twentieth century in the Midwestern United States. His friends called him Logie. When he was seven, the Sunday School teacher from his parents’ church taught him about the Genesis account of creation. That day, his class learned about the snake, the apple, and the fall. Logie thought God seemed a little too upset about the whole apple ordeal. I mean, he could remember plenty

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21 Jul 2014

A Shell Dishabited

The rumble of thunder reverberates off the foothills. Damp pine scent laces the air. A trio of squirrels seek refuge in the spruce that touches the sky with its tip-top branches. This is the stillness of the very first Summer Saturday–my day of solitude and sleep, of caramel-filled chocolate and endless mugs of PG Tips. It is a fairy sort of daylight, ripe for reading Phantastes or Lord of the Rings. I can see sunlight slanting

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09 Jul 2014

Conflict Management

Seven years ago, some of my friends got into a bit of a dispute with the powers-that-be at my college. (I have been told I have a gift for understatement). The nature of the dispute was incredibly personal, of the sort that is impossible to bring to anyone’s attention without making oneself intensely vulnerable. Talking to the dean of student life meant opening up to her judgment and allowing her to see things that were

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25 Jun 2014

Foundational Goodbye

Recently my pastor talked about our lack of control and how God is still good. His talk pushed me to think more about a topic that has touched my life deeply for a few years now. And yes, this is me admitting sometimes I can’t focus on the sermon because my own thoughts drown out the microphone. But, lately especially, I’ve been thinking a lot about gospel goodbyes. How often they happen and how I

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16 Jun 2014

Living A Christian Life Requires Constant Effort

When I was 13-years-old my dad challenged me to do 40 situps every day for two weeks. I informed him after the two weeks that I successfully completed his challenge and planned to continue the exercise. And I did. I kept it up for quite some time. When I began to see the slightest definition in my 13-year-old abdomen muscles I was ecstatic. I naively thought that I could take it easy for a while

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