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Our Potemkin Life

Several weeks ago, I was having dinner with friends in the town of Bridgewater, PA—a sliver of land at the confluence of the Beaver and Ohio Rivers northwest of Pittsburgh. As tends to happen whenever orthodox Christians gather, the conversation turned to cultural decline. As we discussed the latest outrages, though, I couldn’t help but observe our surroundings.We were on the patio of a casual restaurant within sight of the gentle Beaver River. Between us and the riverbank was a pristine lawn, crisscrossed by walking trails. The weather was mild and clear. Around us, people conversed contentedly while dining wholesomely and affordably, in perfect security. To all appearances, here was the very image of the good society: pleasant, safe, and prosperous. Continue Reading »

Hillary's Purposes and God's

When I heard Hillary Clinton’s statement at the recent 2015 Women in the World Summit that “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” for the sake of giving women access to “reproductive health care and safe childbirth,” at first I was confused. She has spoken often about being a Christian and having a rich prayer life, and I have no reason to doubt that she has real religious commitments. I wondered how someone who attends church regularly, prays, and therefore presumably knows something about the value and the sanctity of religious belief could say something so hostile toward religion.Then I thought of Harvey Cox’s The Secular City. Something about her statement rang that bell. I have no idea if Secretary Clinton read Cox’s influential and popular 1965 book, or assuming she did, if the book influenced her thinking. Tracing the particular influences behind anyone’s conceptions is rarely a simple matter. What struck me, though, was the possibility that I have been missing something big: it is likely that many of those who denigrate religious beliefs aren’t drawing just on secular, anti-Christian ideologies, but on liberal Christian ideas about God. What I assume to be anti-religious animus might in some cases actually issue from a particular form of religiosity. Continue Reading »

We Have Never Been Modern

Bruno Latour’s 1993 We Have Never Been Modern is a neglected masterpiece. Its argument is compressed, the terminology idiosyncratic. Latour is witty, ironic, and funniest when he’s outraged. It’s not an easy book, but it’s worth the effort. As a diagnosis of us “moderns,” it’s more penetrating, and rings truer, than many better-known works. Continue Reading »

Keeping the Mass in Christmas

In Maryland, the Montgomery County School board has stripped Christmas, as well as all religious holidays, from the school calendar. The vacation days are still there, but under new names that make no religious reference. In Piedmont, Alabama, the Freedom from Religion Foundation pressured the small southern town to drop its “Keep Christ in Christmas” parade on grounds that it was unconstitutional. The bottom line: Christians need to stop alienating their secular neighbors and celebrate something more inclusive. The war on Christmas is real. Continue Reading »

The Decline and Rise
of Secular Judaism

In his 1782 book Letters from an American Farmer, John de Crèvecœur asked the most famous and important question in American history: “What then is the American, this new man?” The authentic American leaves behind him “all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new . . . . Continue Reading »

“Special Meaning”

by Frank TurkSo you know: Pack a lunch.And before you read a single word of this post, I require of you that you read this post, by me, regarding this essential conflict involved in talking about this topic. If you do not read that post, and you want to reproach me about my post here, I will simply . . . . Continue Reading »

Modern Man [1]

Just to keep things interesting, I’m posting my response to JMR on the front page here. I thank him for his engagement on this issue, even if he is actually wrong about a lot of things.I think the heart of our disagreement is the Bible and how to read it.I think that’s unquestionably . . . . Continue Reading »

Secularism and Britt Hume

The Big Hollywood blogger and actor Adam Baldwin, recently of the television series Chuck and Firefly, has taken up his virtual pen to defend Britt Hume from those who have criticized him for suggesting that Tiger Woods should consider Christianity in his time of crisis. Hume made the . . . . Continue Reading »

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