In her introduction to the April issue of Comment magazine, Anne Snyder begins with a troubling description of how citizens in the US are overwhelmed by current events and the brokenness of the world, and exhausted by incessant demands to take part in the culture wars. We no longer trust institutions such as "the church, … Continue reading Spheres and Lanes
In his column this week for The Atlantic, David French relates an incredible story of grace in the face of suffering and opposition. His wife Nancy, who is a victim of sexual abuse, was giving a talk at a local college about loving one's enemies. When the floor was open to discussion, someone in the … Continue reading Mercy in the Public Square
Robin Sloan in his July 2022 newsletter writes about watching every movie ever made by the beloved Japanese anime director Hayao Miyazaki. Scroll to the end to read his observations. Here's what he says about Kiki's Delivery Service: There is so much kindness in so many of Miyazaki’s movies. Plots animated by kindness. If people … Continue reading Plots Animated by Kindness
You might think that Robert Eggers was exaggerating when he said we live in a "tiresome, lame, commercial culture now". I thought he might be. Didn't America produce a bunch of good movies, books, and music in the past decade? Then I read the following: American culture has exhausted itself. It is running on fumes. … Continue reading Exhausted Culture
I'm ruminating on this wholly unexpected observation from Robert Eggers about his latest movie 'The Northman': "This sounds super uber-precious, but I think it's hard to do this kind of creative work [directing] in a modern secular society because it becomes all about your ego and yourself. And I am envious — this is the horrible part — I'm envious of medieval craftsmen who are doing the work for God."
For years I have tried to navigate a healthy relationship with social media, with limited success. Though I deleted Twitter from my phone and silenced my Facebook notifications, I became attached to Instagram and was still checking it (and Facebook) many times a day. That changed a week ago after I listened to a podcast on digital minimalism. The podcast didn't just bring up the usual arguments against social media. It presented an attractive vision of focused living. That combination---damning evidence and the beauty of a more fulfilled life---is what finally pushed me to go on a social media fast.
A dialogue between Madame Hohlakov and Elder Zossima in 'The Brothers Karamazov' provides a troubling yet vital portrait of what it means to love others. It is a portrait that flies in the face of the reward systems of social media.
The toxic rage over the abortion debate, where opponents are merely shouting their criticisms and assuming evil intentions without actually listening to each other, reveals a deeper social problem: A contempt for debate itself. And a contempt for debate is ultimately a recipe for the erosion of democracy. Debate is the price of our form of government. If you're not willing to pay it, then don't be surprised when you lose it.
Hundreds of years ago, the English theologian John Wesley wrote a moving commentary on the radical, self-sacrificial love commanded by Jesus Christ. It's remarkable how reading this passage today shows a stark contrast between biblical love and the type of love touted in the shallow memes of social media.
As theologian Don Carson points out, the church does not consist of natural friends; it consists of natural enemies. It is not a social club for dewy-eyed companions but a broken community of individuals who need help. There is therefore a certain sense in which one should *expect* conflict in a church---and to be extremely wary when there is none.