Wilm Hosenfeld: Warsaw’s Quiet Resister

Seventy years ago, the inhabitants of Warsaw boldly rose against their Nazi oppressors. The Warsaw Uprising lasted sixty-three days, defying all expectations. Yet at the war’s end, the Polish capital suffered more damage than any other city during World War II, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 85 percent its buildings were destroyed, while only 400,000 residents out of a prewar population of 1.3 million (including only 11,500 of 360,000 Jews) survived. In the orgy of cruelty that was the occupation of Warsaw, one German officer—Captain Wilm Hosenfeld—acted heroically. Continue Reading »

Tradition and the Individual Theologian

Catholics, Orthodox, and not a few Protestants have been known to reject theological novelties with a wave of the hand and an appeal to tradition. “Shouldn’t we follow the tradition rather than the judgments of an individual scholar?” Sometimes the modifier “idiosyncratic” is added to “judgments” for rhetorical oomph. “Tradition” is implicitly capitalized, for who can argue with a capital letter? Continue Reading »

Neither Side Got What It Wanted

On July 21, the President issued an Executive Order prohibiting government contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no exception for religious organizations with government contracts. But neither is there any override of existing legal protections for religious liberty. The Department of Labor is to issue more detailed implementing regulations in ninety days. Continue Reading »

The Poor Poetry of Death

We are planning another funeral, one of the small duties of which is selecting materials for inclusion in the folder that will be handed out to guests. The funeral home offered sample poetic spiritual selections for the funeral program. These poems are meant to offer consolation, but the ones commonly offered by funeral homes do something like the opposite. Continue Reading »

Ronald Reagan: Cold Warrior and Nuclear Abolitionist

In recent years, as scholars have explored Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy with greater access to primary-source documents, something utterly baffling to the conventional wisdom of his time (and ours) has come into focus: Reagan, determined to win the Cold War, was also eager to rid the world of nuclear weapons. And while many, in his time and ours, imagine those to have been incompatible goals, the fortieth president of the United States was capable of holding both ideas in his head at once, and acting toward both ends. Continue Reading »

Imagining the Path of Christian Exile

To be ripped from our neighborhood, the ancient land we have shared, so companionably for so long, is a tragedy that must transform each of us. I have been forever changed by the experience of being marched away at gunpoint, empty-handed, my past wrested from me. They gave me two choices, leave or die. And you, too, are changed for having to quietly watch me go, or die yourselves. It is not how old neighbors should part. Continue Reading »

Time to Stand Against Rome?

A recent joint statement by a number of Italian evangelical groups indicts the Roman Catholic Church as an “imperial” church and its call for evangelicals to “unionist initiatives that are contrary to Scripture and instead renew their commitment to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world.” Continue Reading »

Life Under Instant Replay

When taking stock of how far we haven’t come, I find myself reliving the early morning hours of July 27, 2011. Late-night comics have relinquished the airwaves to diet pill peddlers, city buses have ceased running here in Atlanta, and even Manuel’s Tavern is turning out the last of its regulars. South of downtown the Braves and Pirates play on, sweating through the nineteenth inning on a field approaching dewpoint. A journeyman Braves reliever, batting for lack of other options, hits a routine grounder to third. Breaking on contact, a baserunner pushing forty—also playing for lack of other options—sprints toward the plate, a kamikaze attempt at the winning run. Continue Reading »

Will Doctors Be Forced to Kill?

The wailing and gnashing of teeth in some quarters over the modest Hobby Lobby decision has me worried. Apparently, many on the political port side of the country believe that once a favored public policy has been enacted, it immediately becomes a “right” that can never be altered or denied. More, once such a “right” is established for the individual, others should have the duty to ensure access—even at the cost of violating their own religious consciences. Continue Reading »

Weird Al Just Committed the Greatest Word Crime of All

He takes care lest by a slip of the tongue he use the ablative instead of the accusative for ‘among men,’ but is unconcerned that by the fury of his mind he might cast a man out from among men” (Conf. 1.18.29). The particular pet peeves of the self-appointed language police have changed since the fifth century, but St. Augustine would surely recognize the same phenomenon active today. He might conclude, though, that we’ve sunk to a new low: today’s peevers tend not only to lack charity, but to lack even a good grasp of the language they imagine themselves to be defending. Continue Reading »