Toxic to Spiritual Growth and Ruinous to Political Health
When I was barely seventeen, I left everyone I knew in the world for the first time in my life and packed it off to summer school at William and Mary, 1,500 miles away. I hadn’t been in my strange new surroundings a week when something happened that lifted me high in my young eyes (very young, since I had graduated from high school a year early). In working my way through the cafeteria’s dinner line, I had forked four slices of ham onto my plate, thinking I had only three—and paying for only three at the register. In the middle of my lonely meal, I discovered my error and promptly returned to the checkout woman to correct it. She was so visibly amazed and delighted at my punctilious honesty that I basked in the glow of her smile for days. What a fine young man I was, after all!
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Psychology professors from Claremont McKenna, Yale and Berkeley have just published a study that should be “disconcerting to those interested in promoting an accurate understanding of evolution.” Specifically, they’ve identified an insidious factor that has crept into science films and videos, undermining the ability of viewers to be good Darwinists.
Awe is the culprit, they say. All those jaw-dropping nature documentaries have been messing with our minds.
Most wildlife shows are packaged with the usual Darwinian narrative, spoken in an authoritative tone that isn’t supposed to be questioned. But it seems that wildlife itself, in stunning visual display, is conveying a different message — more powerfully, in fact.
Everyone is awed by life, and experiences that accentuate this awe seem to affect us, whether or not we believe in God. The new study suggests that these experiences affirm a sense of faith in theists and a sense of purpose-like natural order in atheists and agnostics, both of which cause problems for instructors wanting to churn out good Darwinists. Read More
I want to make plain to all the graduates today that, if you are a Christian, you will spend the rest of your life on this earth with a spiritual condition that may be called sacred schizophrenia.
The second definition of schizophrenia in my dictionary, after the medical one, is “a state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements.” That’s what I mean by schizophrenia. In calling it sacred I mean that it is a condition brought about by the Holy Spirit. It is not a perfect condition, but it is a holy condition. A sacred schizophrenia. https://world.wng.org/2017/05/a_sacred_schizophrenia Read More
What should the role of Christians in politics be? More people than ever are asking that question. The historical Christian positions on social issues don’t match up with contemporary political alignments.
Christians cannot pretend they can transcend politics and simply “preach the Gospel.” Those who avoid all political discussions and engagement are essentially casting a vote for the social status quo. American churches in the early 19th century that did not speak out against slavery because that was what we would now call “getting political” were actually supporting slavery by doing so. To not be political is to be political. Read More
America’s founders certainly believed in individual liberty, but they believed that liberty happens within a shared community. They began the Constitution with the phrase, “We the People.” We are all one thing — a people, a nation, a collective.
That people shares a moral order — rules that are true for all people in all times and that govern us in our freedom. Among them, for example, is the idea that all people are created equal. Read More
How fitness classes provide the meaning that religion once did.
Institutions like CrossFit and SoulCycle are offering their students more than just a chance to lose weight or tone up. They function, ter Kuile argues, like religions.
“People come because they want to lose weight or gain muscle strength, but they stay for the community,” he said. “It’s really the relationships that keep them coming back.”
Of course, these spaces are themselves defined not just by their spiritual role but by their economic one. At up to $40 a class, places like SoulCycle and CrossFit often cater to a particular demographic: urban millennials with high-paying jobs and disposable incomes, the same group that tends to identify as religiously unaffiliated. Read More
What is said today about ‘fear’ of the Lord in Biblical language is true,” Father Ernest Fortin told his graduate students at Boston College. “It does bear the meanings ‘awe’ and ‘reverence.’ We shouldn’t forget, though, that the word also means fear.” This was the mid-nineties, when John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor had recently re-presented the Church’s teaching on moral law. There are “intrinsically evil acts” that “radically contradict the good of the person made in his image,” wrote the pope. “They are [evil] always and per se.” Read More
Despite the number of Christian fellowships that daily set up their tables on Sproul and the churches that dot the outskirts of campus, our university is a secular one. Charles Taylor’s tome, A Secular Age asserts that our entire age is secular, not because we have rejected religion outright (the active, growing fellowships and churches would demonstrate otherwise), but rather our age is secular because belief in the divine is only one option out of many options that we can choose from. Read More
The greatest threat to Christianity is found not in the arguments of the atheist but in the assumptions of the apathetic. The “new apathy” is a more dangerous threat than the new atheism.
The “new atheism” fad of Richard Dawkins, Samuel Harris, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and dozens of other ornery antitheists created a lot of noise over the God Question, reaching its peak in the late 2000s. The loud, kaleidoscopic festival of fallacies served up by these commentators attracted a lot of media attention. Westerners had never had such a public and prominent debate on God’s existence, and millions were seduced by superficially intriguing yet ultimately facile questions like “who created God?” and “is a prime mover not equally as plausible as a giant plate of pasta floating in space?” Read More
There is a dimension of truth which most of us have tragically lost and need to recover, a dimension that cannot be put into words and sentences, though words and sentences can be used to suggest it.
All premodern societies had this other dimension, even the ones who were very far from having the propositional truth, the Christian content of revelation. This other dimension is a vision, a perspective, a habit of seeing rather than a specific thing seen. If we do not have this habit—this vision—then our theology will not sink much deeper than on a conscious, rational level. Read More
The men fled; the women stayed.
That’s the story of Easter weekend in the New Testament. Most of Jesus’ male disciples vanished when the trouble started, leaving his mother and Mary Magdalene and other women to watch by the cross, prepare his body for his burial, and then (with the men still basically in hiding) find the empty tomb.
Male absence and female energy has also been the story, albeit less starkly and dramatically, of Christian practice in many times and places since. Today, most Christian churches and denominations in America — conservative as well as liberal, male-led and female-led both — have some sort of gender gap, sometimes modest but often stark. Despite their varying theologies, evangelicalism, mainline Protestantism, Mormonism and Catholicism all have about a 55-45 female-male split in religious identification; for black churches, it’s 60-40. Read More
Stories in general, and mythologies in particular, allow us to explore the Read More
complexities of life, death, and the human experience in a nuanced way. This is, no
doubt, why Christ spoke to the masses in parables. Myths, however, run deeper than
simple narrative; they are formative for us as individuals and as communities as we
examine the world around us. Even the myths from which we are far removed culturally
and temporally captivate us in ways that mere facts cannot. Myths bridge the gap
between impersonal, abstract concepts and the more personal experience of daily life. As
we each look for our own niche in the world, a place we can call home, it is clear that
mythology is essential.
The Christian quest for the common good is not reducible either to the simple aggregate of individual goods or to the promotion of the needs of the collective at the expense of the one.
The one and the many is perhaps the oldest problem of human experience. In social thought, this problem manifests itself in the tension between collectivism and individualism. Read More
I'm a scientist at UC Berkeley—a card-carrying true believer in liberal Enlightenment values. Imagine that I meet a bright young woman in a small town in Wisconsin or Alabama, and that I want to persuade her to become a scientist like me. “Listen, science is really great!,” I say. “We scientists care about truth and reason and human flourishing. We include people from every country and culture. And our values have transformed the world. For thousands of years before the Enlightenment, the speed limit was the pace of a fast horse, and children died all the time. Now ideas move at the speed of light, and a child’s death is an unthinkable tragedy. Democracy has eclipsed tyranny, prosperity has outpaced poverty, medicine has routed illness, individual liberation has uprooted social convention. Come join us!” Read More
One of the pet words of this age is "tolerance." It is a good word, but we have tried to stretch it over too great an area of life. We have applied it too often where it does not belong. The word "tolerant" means "liberal," "broad-minded," "willing to put up with beliefs opposed to one's convictions," and "the allowance of something not wholly approved."
Tolerance, in one sense, implies the compromise of one's convictions, a yielding of ground upon important issues. Hence, over-tolerance in moral issues has made us soft, flabby and devoid of conviction. Read More
In this weekend’s New York Times Magazine there is a long profile of a new kind of pedagogy unique to our particular stage of civilization. It’s called “porn literacy,” and it involves explaining to young people whose sexual coming-of-age is being mediated by watching online gangbangs that actually hard-core pornography is not an appropriate guide to how the sexes should relate.
For anyone who grew up with the ideals of post-sexual revolution liberalism, there is a striking pathos to these educators’ efforts. The sex education programs in my mostly liberal schools featured a touching faith from the adults in charge that they were engaged in a great work of enlightenment, that with the right curricula they could roll back the forces of repression and make sexuality a place of egalitarian pleasure and safety for us all.
Compared to those idealists, the people teaching “porn literacy” have accepted a sweeping pedagogical defeat. They take for granted that the most important sex education may take place on Pornhub, that the purpose of their work is essentially remedial, and that there is no escape from the world that porn has made. Read More
Jonah is the only one in the parable that that Lord has a problem with. He receives no resistance from nature: the sea, the winds, the giant fish, the vine that grows then dies, all obey His Word. He also receives no resistance from the Gentiles: the sailors repent and believe and the entire city of Nineveh, including their king, repents and believes. Only Jonah resists the word of the Lord. [...]
The parable is about our willingness to serve the Lord in the manner He intended. And what does He intend? He intends for Jonah, for Israel, for the Church, and for us individually, to live for those around us. We are embodiments of God's presence in and for the world. Read More
Something's wrong when AI and animals can be treated as human, while actual unborn humans are deemed worthless.
Respecting life is complicated in a culture that has problems comprehending “respect” and “life.” When people are called “pet parents” and artificial intelligence is considered human, human life itself is contested. Not to mention the fact that inanimate objects are called “sexy” and “smart.” This year marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, and threats to life have increased and changed. Humanae Vitae predicted abortion and euthanasia, as well as the moral decadence in relationships between the sexes. Read More
The theology behind both Democratic and Republican lawmaking
Pelagius (A.D. 360-418) denied Biblical teaching about original sin. He thought people could do good without being born again. Allies and opponents described him as highly educated, fluent in Latin and Greek, and portly. (The theologian Jerome, an ascetic, described Pelagius as “stuffed with Irish porridge.”) Read More
In a stressful, data-driven era, many young people find comfort and insight in the zodiac—even if they don’t exactly believe in it.
Astrology is a meme, and it’s spreading in that blooming, unfurling way that memes do. On social media, astrologers and astrology meme machines amass tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, people joke about Mercury retrograde, and categorize “the signs as ...” literally anything: cat breeds, Oscar Wilde quotes, Stranger Things characters, types of french fries. In online publications, daily, weekly, and monthly horoscopes, and zodiac-themed listicles flourish. Read More