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ChurchCultureEssaysTheology

Defense and Discernment: Bearing Witness in Suspicious Times

https://youtu.be/8bFkjb3txFY We live in suspicious times. I wore a mask during my most recent trip to the grocery store. As I was checking out, I noticed an unmasked woman glaring at me. No words were exchanged, and yet I got the distinct feeling that she was saying something like: “oh, so you’re one of them.” It is entirely possible that I misread her body language, or that I was feeling overly sensitive, or that she was the one feeling judged…
June 18, 2020
ChurchCultureEssaysTheology

The Life You Save May Not Be Your Own: Loving Our Distant Neighbors in a Time of Pandemic

https://youtu.be/NtMgj5fZN0A On March 27, the New York Times reported that although in some respects COVID-19 was uniting Americans in a common experience, it was also exposing fractures in our society: “A kind of pandemic caste system is rapidly developing: the rich holed up in vacation properties; the middle class marooned at home with restless children; the working class on the front lines of the economy, stretched to the limit by the demands of work and parenting, if there is even…
CultureScienceTheology

Determinism

by Clayton Carlson “Of course you are smart, your dad is a scientist.” My kids, who tend to do pretty well in school, have heard a comment like that more than once. There are different ways to interpret what they are being told. The teacher, parent, or classmate trying to affirm my son or daughter might mean that as children of a college professor, they live in a world where education is highly valued. They could be recognizing that my…
March 26, 2019
ChurchCultureSexuality

My Time as a Methodist

My family lived in Southern Ohio when I was between the ages of five and ten, and after trying the local Presbyterian Church for a while we joined the Methodists because of a vibrant, vital pastor and congregation. Those were good years for my family. The Methodists were cool. The pastor had a teenage son who came to our house and tried to teach me how to play the guitar. George Harrison I was not. Once when my ancient great-grandfather…
March 13, 2019
CultureEssays

My Summer Vacation: a Report

Late in a recent summer, I spent an entire day with my departmental compatriots working on Student Learning Outcomes. This is merely the latest manifestation of the assessment mania now gripping our college – and higher education as a whole. Naturally I came home with a crushing headache. Meanwhile, many of us had seen each other only in passing for the previous few months, so we engaged in some pleasant chit-chat and catching up with one another: “How was your…
October 31, 2018
Book ReviewsCulture

Learning to See Life’s Ecstatic Dance

The Overstory, by Richard Powers THE OVERSTORY RICHARD POWERS W. W. NORTON & COMPANY. INC., 2018 $27.95 512 PAGES Richard Powers, a National Book Award winner, has been writing science- and tech-related fiction for more than 30 years. In his latest novel, The Overstory, he displays his mastery of the craft with an innovative interplay of theme, structure and style. The first 150 pages trace nine characters – nine “roots” according to the section heading – each equally compelling. The…
October 31, 2018
CultureEssays

I’m Sick of Appreciating Teachers

Don’t get me wrong, teachers are my heroes. This week, my son’s kindergarten teacher discovered that he had been unknowingly playing with another child’s vomit on the playground – somehow thinking it was “slushy snow” leftover after the spring melt – and she calmly sent him straight to the bathroom to wash his hands. She’s a saint. What if appreciating teachers went beyond a Hallmark card and a latte? If you think teaching is easy, you have never spoken to…
October 31, 2018
Book ReviewsCulture

Treating a Literary Icon with Dignity

A Light So Lovely A LIGHT SO LOVELY: THE SPIRITUAL LEGACY OF MADELEINE L’ENGLE SARAH ARTHUR ZONDERVAN, 2018 $13.38, PAPERBACK 224 PAGES If she were alive, Madeleine L’Engle would turn 100 at the end of November. Her centenary, along with the release of a version of A Wrinkle in Time brought to us by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling earlier this year, has brought this formidable and prolific author back into the spotlight. Sarah Arthur, a prolific writer…
October 31, 2018
CultureEssays

In Praise of Quitting

There’s a billboard out by the highway featuring a picture of John Wayne in all his western glory with the caption “Don’t Much Like Quitters, Son.” It’s one of the omnipresent “values” billboards that line our motorways. Every time I see it, I’m filled with questions. I probably shouldn’t take billboards so seriously, but I can’t help myself. Wouldn’t John Wayne have lived a longer, healthier, happier life if he’d been a quitter? What does it say about our culture…
October 31, 2018