Clutch Your Pearls and Think of the Children

There was a time when virtue summoned manly images like that of The Iliad’s Prince Hector soothing his wife and infant son before venturing out into battle. But these days, as Alexandra Carmeny points out in a recent essay for Ethika Politika, the term is more often associated with pinkness and petticoats, to the point that online discussion often tends to frame any form of perceived moral conservatism as stuffily feminine. Continue Reading »

It Wasn’t a Date

It wasn’t a date. It was a hangout. We met up on a rainy night in the middle of April, to have dinner at a designated locale. “Present!” I texted upon arrival, and he stood up accounted for, waving me over to the bar area. We greeted each other with a hug as the bar tender asked if we would like a table. I let Sam answer, and he said that the bar would be fine. Continue Reading »

In Praise of Praise Music

Praise music gets no respect, even among Christians. It is not hard to figure out why the unchurched don’t care for it. They can sing “Stairway to Heaven” with gusto because they don’t believe that the stairs are really going anywhere, while it is hard to sing “Here I Am to Worship” without doing exactly that. But Christians are people of praise. That’s what we do. So why do so many Christians have such a condescending attitude toward praise music? Continue Reading »

Uncluttering the House of the Mind

thank Headmaster Crowe for that gracious introduction. And I thank Professor Owen Anderson of Arizona State University for introducing me to the headmaster, and to the wonderful venture of the Great Hearts Academies, which are doing such good in the world, one teacher, one student, one person at a time. One person at a time, I think, is really the only way to do any good in the world, for human beings are individual persons in communities, not statistics in a collective or parts in a machine. So on this happy day, as the students of the class of 2014 celebrate a milestone achievement with their families, their friends, and their teachers, I come to congratulate you, to wish you well, and to address each of you as a person who has received the good turn of a fine education, and who should feel a responsibility to repay the debt of that education by living well as a person, mindful of the personhood, the individuality, and the good of others around you, in the various communities through which your life will take you. Continue Reading »

Rest to Work or Work to Rest?

The N.C.A.A. has taken an image-beating in recent years. Angry critics of its alleged exploitation of student athletes have been relentless in their attacks on both the institution and its leadership. Chief among those who bear the liberally dealt blows is Dr. Mark Emmert, president of the N.C.A.A. In a recent article devoted primarily to the psychological toll that the job and its pressures have taken on him, the Times sought to expose something of his complicated character and work. Dr. Emmert, a heavily-compensated, highly capable, would-be reformer, seems simply to be the most prominent face of a incredibly complicated, clumsily democratic, and highly bureaucratic business that exceeds the capacities of any one man. To cope with the stresses of this life, Dr. Emmert compensates in charming fashion: “To help keep calm, Dr. Emmert meditates and visits his home on Whidbey Island in Washington. He has been taking a butchery class.” Continue Reading »

Can Christian Music Be Real Rock and Roll?

Christopher Partridge’s new book, The Lyre of Orpheus, provides an amazing wealth of information about religion and popular music. It should be read while sitting at a computer, since you will want to search YouTube or Spotify for the songs that he so passionately discusses. Unfortunately, his larger theory is not nearly as interesting as his close reading of individual artists. Continue Reading »

Roland in Moonlight

In my dream, I had just entered the sitting room of my house. It was still several hours before dawn, but music was quietly playing: I heard the last lines and fading chords of Schubert’s “Der Leiermann,” in the recent recording by Jonas Kaufmann, before silence fell. I was . . . . Continue Reading »