The title of my talk tonight is “The Dying Art of Disagreement.” This is a subject that is dear to me — literally dear — since disagreement is the way in which I have always earned a living. Disagreement is dear to me, too, because it is the most vital ingredient of any decent society.
To say the words, “I agree” — whether it’s agreeing to join an organization, or submit to a political authority, or subscribe to a religious faith — may be the basis of every community.
But to say, I disagree; I refuse; you’re wrong; etiam si omnes — ego non — these are the words that define our individuality, give us our freedom, enjoin our tolerance, enlarge our perspectives, seize our attention, energize our progress, make our democracies real, and give hope and courage to oppressed people everywhere. Galileo and Darwin; Mandela, Havel, and Liu Xiaobo; Rosa Parks and Natan Sharansky — such are the ranks of those who disagree. Read More
his is not a story of being gay and becoming straight.
But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind to the beginning. My parents met at a gay nightclub in San Francisco. My mother just wanted a safe place to dance. My father was the security guard. He abandoned my mother and me after abusing both of us physically. I didn’t even know he existed until I was 10, by which time my mother had remarried. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/october/i-never-became-straight-perhaps-that-was-never-gods-goal.html Read More
Two new books explore America’s changing romantic landscape.
C.S. Lewis’s wife, Joy Davidman, died of bone cancer on July 13, 1960. The next day, the famous author wrote a letter to Peter Bide, the priest who had married them, to tell him the news.
“I’d like to meet,” Lewis writes, suggesting the two grab lunch sometime soon. “For I am—oh God that I were not—very free now. One doesn’t realize in early life that the price of freedom is loneliness. To be happy is to be tied.” Read More
The South is an especially pious region, characterized by the old Roman virtue of pietas. Filial piety is the virtue of proper respect for one’s parents and, by extension, for one’s ancestors, one’s country, and (ultimately) one’s Creator. It is piety, and not racism, that motivates so many sons and daughters of the South to defend the monuments of Confederate generals and soldiers, despite a nearly universal acknowledgement that the slave system of the antebellum South was profoundly unjust. African Americans, especially those who live in the South, by and large understand this. It has been white progressives and not local black leaders who have led the attack on these monuments. Read More
In lectures over the last couple of years, I have frequently mentioned Philip Rieff’s Psychological Man as a helpful concept for explaining the state of sexual identity politics in the West. To find fulfillment, Psychological Man looks not to social relations, nor to religion, nor to his placement in the economic structure. He looks inward. Read More
Across the country, college freshmen are settling into their new lives and grappling with something that doesn’t compete with protests and political correctness for the media’s attention, something that no one prepared them for, something that has nothing to do with being “snowflakes” and everything to do with being human.
They’re lonely. Read More
Seen from Berlin, the news from Charlottesville is alarming. Seen as a Christian, the images are heartbreaking. The ideology of racial superiority is an evil anti-gospel that leads to eternal death.
The lessons of history are warning enough. The lessons of heresy are even more pressing. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we dare not miss the lessons of history and heresy. God will judge us. This we know. Read More
Any philosophical approach to values and purpose must acknowledge this fundamental neurological reality: a visceral sense of meaning in one’s life is an involuntary mental state that, like joy or disgust, is independent from and resistant to the best of arguments. If philosophy is to guide us to a better life, it must somehow bridge this gap between feeling and thought. Read More
It doesn’t matter what your political position is; reading or watching things that aggressively dispute all that you believe can produce this effect. Often, my whole afternoon is wrecked by reading one article or watching one debate. And that lost afternoon is irretrievable. Those hours I could have spent pursuing my research, or engaging creatively in something, or writing an article like this one, which demonstrates some faith in humanity, are lost because of a morbid attraction to provocative rhetoric and lost causes. But if a pundit screams brutishly in the forest and there is no one there to hear him, does he still make a sound? Read More
A foundational Christian belief is that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins. For many, the most important result of this is that believers go to heaven when they die. Bestselling author, scholar and bishop, N. T. Wright, thinks we’re missing a critical aspect of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross if we limit our understanding just to this explanation. His latest book, The Day the Revolution Began, explores the Crucifixion and argues that the Protestant Reformation did not go far enough in transforming our understanding of this event. Mike Bird, author of What Christians Ought To Believe,interviewed Wright about how Christians should view the Crucifixion. Read More
But what kind of custodian of knowledge and trust is Google? For centuries, universities and academies have served this cultural function. They were bulwarks against falsehood and institutions for truth. They did not always live up to the epistemic and ethical ideals they propounded, but one of their primary tasks was to make facts and beliefs correspond. In important ways, then, universities are the cultural forebears of Facebook and Google.
What was the nature of the trust granted these institutions? If Google's engineers hope to ground trustworthiness in statistical computation, in what did universities and other institutions of higher learning ground their own trustworthiness? Why did communities, nations, and cultures turn to these institutions for knowledge they could trust? Read More
The Trump era, in this sense, has not made “The Benedict Option” and the other books like it less timely, but more so. Thanks to Trump’s unlikely rise, religious conservatism has temporarily regained influence that its younger leaders and thinkers assumed was all but lost. But at a price — the price of being bound to an unstable and semi-competent form of right-wing nationalism, and suspended over the abyss by the not precisely Godlike hands of Donald Trump. Read More
What concerns me is the possibility of evangelicals “holding the line” on same-sex marriage while adopting virtually every other wrongheaded aspect of our culture’s view of marriage. Read More
Would it be a totally new idea for Muslims to learn from Jesus? To some extent, yes. While Muslims respect and love Jesus — and his immaculate mother, Mary — because the Quran wholeheartedly praises them, most have never thought about the historical mission of Jesus, the essence of his teaching and how it may relate to their own reality. Read More
What does it mean to be a Christian in the 21st century? Can one be a Christian and yet doubt the virgin birth or the Resurrection? I put these questions to the Rev. Timothy Keller, an evangelical Christian pastor and best-selling author who is among the most prominent evangelical thinkers today. Our conversation has been edited for space and clarity.
KRISTOF Tim, I deeply admire Jesus and his message, but am also skeptical of themes that have been integral to Christianity — the virgin birth, the Resurrection, the miracles and so on. Since this is the Christmas season, let’s start with the virgin birth. Is that an essential belief, or can I mix and match? Read More
Patriotism isn’t merely something you show in a parade; it means having to deal with people with whom you disagree, but whose lives are bound to yours as yours is to theirs, in a long, difficult, patient, and sometimes painful search for the common good. Read More
If this were 1999—the year that I was converted and walked away from the woman and lesbian community I loved—instead of 2016, Jen Hatmaker’s words about the holiness of LGBT relationships would have flooded into my world like a balm of Gilead. Read More