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Innocents Abroad

Seeing as the Catholic Church has itself been the victim of a damaging disinformation campaign, one might expect that Church leaders would be careful not to allow themselves to be drawn into a similar slander operation. But, although the Church is still defending itself against charges of wartime anti-Semitism, many Church leaders seem to see nothing wrong with current efforts to vilify Israel. Continue Reading »

Lamb Ascendant

When John ascends to heaven, he steps into the middle of a continuous worship service in a transcendent temple (Revelation 4). Twenty-four heavenly priests encircle a throne that is banded by a rainbow, where “one enthroned” sparkles like sardius and jasper above four living creatures. In front of the throne, the seven Spirits burn like lamps, brightening a sea of crystalline glass. When the cherubim say the Sanctus, the elders prostrate themselves and shout the worthiness of the one on the throne at the center of it all. Continue Reading »

Will Catholics Comply?

Sometime soon, the Supreme Court will announce its decision in the Hobby Lobby case. Depending on how the justices rule, certain institutions may find themselves exempt from the controversial HHS mandate that requires them to arrange for the provision of contraception, sterilization, and certain abortifacient drugs. Although Hobby Lobby is a private corporation with Protestant owners, the case has implications for many others. Continue Reading »

Hate Religion But Love Buddhism?

Buddhism has been all the rage lately: The Dalai Lama wrapped up his American tour earlier this year, which included a HuffPost Live talk on “mindfulness, spirituality and HuffPost’s Third Metric which seeks to redefine success beyond money and power” (fancy!). TIME magazine featured a blissed-out meditator on a February cover and “mindfulness” conferences are popping up faster than Google employee buses in San Francisco. Continue Reading »

Hand on What You Have Received

taught at the University of Virginia for twenty-five years. Thomas Jefferson, who founded the university, did not call the graduation ceremony “commencement.” He deemed it more fitting to call the occasion the “final exercises,” and it is called that to this day. Continue Reading »

Troubled Waters

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in America and has been since around 1960 when it bypassed Methodism in this category. Riding the wave of the post-World War II evangelical boom, Southern Baptists long ago moved beyond their old confines south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Southern Baptist churches are now located in all of the fifty states. Led today by the Reverend Fred Luter, their first African-American president, Southern Baptists have become one of the most ethnically diverse and multilingual denominations in the country. Continue Reading »

Dating Books

One of the pleasures of recording on the inside cover of a book the date you finished reading it—I’ve been doing that now for over a decade—is that, when you return to it, you can instantly imagine yourself back in time. When I recently opened Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, for . . . . Continue Reading »

Karl Barth’s Failure

Karl Barth was the greatest theologian since the Reformation, and his work is today a dead letter. This is an extraordinary irony. Barth aspired to free Christian theology from restrictive modern habits of mind but in the end preserved the most damaging assumptions of the ideas he sought to . . . . Continue Reading »

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