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When the Bible Became a Musical

As a rule, I don’t like musicals. Well, it’s not “as” a rule. It is a rule. I do not like musicals. I never watched Glee, unless the women at my house were monopolizing the television. I walked out of The Sound of Music; something about Maria racing to the top of a hill singing with no hint of asthmatic reaction ruined it for me. I did stay through Les Misérables, though dying people singing tend to annoy me, but it was operatic and no one was asking me to believe that perfectly ordinary people frequently burst into spur-of-the-moment song. I never break into spontaneous song, not if someone might be listening. Why should anyone else? Continue Reading »

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

The trends aren’t dramatic, but they are noteworthy nonetheless. Americans are gradually becoming more pro-life. In 2012 Gallup polling found that the percentage of Americans who self-identified as pro-choice was at an all-time low (41 percent), while fully half regarded themselves as pro-life. Continue Reading »

Is History Really Over?

In 1989, as the Cold War entered the bottom of the ninth inning, political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote a memorable essay entitled “The End of History?” And despite the question mark in the article’s title, the argument resolved itself in a straightforward answer: “Yes.” Continue Reading »

Against Obsessive Sexuality

For the March issue of First Things, I wrote an essay called “Against Heterosexuality.” In brief, my argument was that the concept of sexual orientation is not historically inevitable, not empirically accurate, and not morally useful. The heterosexual-homosexual dichotomy is counterproductive to encouraging the virtue of chastity, so we Christians should do our best to eliminate “gay” and “straight”—especially “straight,” actually—from the way we think and talk about sex, always with prudence directing us as to the particulars. Continue Reading »

Forgetting the Christians

This past weekend, the United States began to intervene in the humanitarian crisis unfolding in northern Iraq. The Islamist group ISIS has made a lightning conquest of much of the region, persecuting religious minorities, and even some Sunni Muslims, everywhere it goes. Continue Reading »

Filming Desire

Recently, I sat down to watch Desire of the Everlasting Hills, a newly released documentary about three Christians who pursued their attraction to members of the same sex but then—after diverse experiences and disappointments—embraced chastity and their erstwhile faith. One had pursued the New York fast life, another monogamous stability, and the third had attempted to eschew an Evangelical upbringing in response to his inclination toward men. The documentary was produced by Courage, the much-maligned ministry of the Roman Catholic Church that aids those with same-sex attractions who seek to live chastely. Continue Reading »

Reading Soloveitchik

The occasion of my first encounter with the theology of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik was a reading group at my wife’s synagogue. We were then living in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Elihu Milder, the rabbi then serving at Tifereth Israel, organized a group to discuss Soloveitchik’s spiritual classic, Halakhic Man. Continue Reading »

The Power of Authenticity

I recently watched my good friend Ralph Nader give a rousing speech before a standing-room only audience at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. The presentation was vintage Nader: He railed against the power of large corporations, used his biting sense of humor to poke the politically powerful, as he stepped on the toes of political friends (liberals foolishly won’t work with conservatives on issues of common interest because of a “yuck factor”) and foes alike, while happily spinning iconoclastic arguments ranging from an unexpected call for strong border enforcement (to protect wage levels) to urging government regulation of the emerging sharing economy such as Airbnb. Continue Reading »

The Evangelical Academy

We were doing an interview on an NPR station, a kind of “point-counterpoint” thing. The other interviewee was a self-identified agnostic , and the topic was the rights of academic institutions to “discriminate” on the basis of religious beliefs. My dialogue partner was not overtly hostile to religion as such. Indeed he said some nice things about the school where I was president at the time. Fuller Seminary produces some excellent scholarship based on our religious convictions, he observed. But why do we hire only folks who subscribe to those convictions? Having religious beliefs is fine, he said. But for institutions to hire only faculty who subscribe to those beliefs is contrary to the principles of academic inquiry. Continue Reading »

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