The God of the Womb and the World

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The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Psalm 24:1 is a popular verse in Christian conservation (or creation care) circles—one I have heard often enough that it almost rings cliché. But these words struck me anew when used in a closing benediction before thousands of fellow . . . . Continue Reading »

A Golden Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown

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In A Charlie Brown Christmas, the round headed lead’s quest to escape a melancholy brought on by the materialism and artificiality of the season climaxes with his blanket-holding friend’s powerful recitation of St. Luke’s nativity. It is remembered now as a classic, and typical of the . . . . Continue Reading »

In Carbon and Capitalism We Trust?

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At the Crossroads” was ostensibly a conservative gathering in Austin to discuss energy and “so-called global warming” as Senator Ted Cruz put it, but at its core was a celebration of cornucopianism. That progressive philosophy sees an ever improving world flowing from the mind of man and the . . . . Continue Reading »

Evangelicals and Animals

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Ribs are getting harder to eat. I was gnawing on some nice tender bones in Memphis recently, but those bones were gnawing on me. Try as I might—and there are many days that I do indeed try to recapture the bliss of ignorance—I know too much about where that pork comes from to just devour it . . . . Continue Reading »

The Pope and the Plowman

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After you exit the interstate and turn on a two lane strip of asphalt headed towards Wendell Berry’s old Kentucky home, one of the first signs you see proclaims—with the leading word emblazoned in red letters: “Caution, Church Entrance Ahead.” It is a warning that Mr. Berry, the celebrated . . . . Continue Reading »

An Almost Godly Green

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Happy Earth Day! Easter it is not, but this niche “holiday” does afford an opportunity to reflect on the spiritual influences behind the modern environmental movement. Its three most important figures—John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson—were all deeply influenced by the Book of Nature and the Book of Books, but none fully embraced the King of Kings.Muir was the product of a strict Campbellite home where he learned most of the Bible “by heart and by sore flesh.” Its imprint never left him, but Muir’s spiritual vision was incomplete—he was carried to ecstasy by the work of creation not the Resurrection. Yet, what he saw he saw in a holy fullness that most of us now miss, and his lyrical prose is filled with biblical echoes. “Heaven knows,” Muir would write, “that John the Baptist was not more eager to get all his fellow sinners into the Jordan than I to baptize all of mine in the beauty of God’s mountains.” Continue Reading »

Hyping Gay Marriage Deep in the Heart of Texas

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Texas is a big place, and as Robert Wuthnow has recently reminded us in Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State, it has an oversized role in matters of religion and politics. That is one reason why the recent Texas Monthly cover story falling head over heels for gay marriage struck me as significant. Now, a month later, the reviews are in. The April “Roar of the Crowd” letters section describes a “voluminous inrush of response” often including the magazine itself, returned in protest. The staff seems likely, however, to take the rebuke as a badge of honor. Continue Reading »

Marching for Life and Planet

From First Thoughts

As I was rallying for life with several thousand other Texans at our state capitol, a few dozen pro-choicers insisted on parading through with “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology” banners while screaming “Keep Your Rosaries, Off our Ovaries!” That’s pretty standard irreligious stuff, but at the West Cost March for Life, marchers were subjected to a chant with a different wrinkle: “Save the Earth, Don’t Give Birth!” It’s a particularly unfortunate slogan, for it risks obscuring the connections between welcoming the unborn and caring for creation—connections long noted by heroes of the pro-life movement and well worth remembering today. Continue Reading »

The Coming Methodist Revival?

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These days, when outsiders consider Methodism, they tend to quickly assume that it is just withering away on its deathbed. But before checking for a pulse, observers ought to call to mind its history, particularly its vigorous beginnings. John Wesley preached to thousands from his father’s grave after being muzzled by the Anglican Church, and when the movement he spearheaded crossed the Atlantic, American Methodism spread on horseback as its dedicated circuit-riders expanded their territory along with the young nation. According to Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, in 1776, Methodists made up only a sliver of the religious pie, just some 2.5 percent of worshipers. By 1850, however, Methodism was by far the largest expression of Christianity in the United States, claiming over a third of all the nation’s religious adherents. Continue Reading »