Articles Archive for August 2011

[31 Aug 2011 | 4 Comments | ]

As a child I knew the world in a very particular manner. I knew that it snowed before Christmas, that bugs were annoying, that the Lakers were magical, and that GI Joes were the best. My world was the world. How I saw it, is how it was. Like most children, this great, common fallacy slowly disintegrated as I grew up. I realized to my great disappointment that the world did not revolve around me. As an adult I still struggle with this harsh reality. Not that the world doesn’t …

[26 Aug 2011 | One Comment | ]

This is a “help the author” post. Working on my in-progress book The Skeptical Believer this week, I have created the following very tentative and incomplete list of categories of objections to religious faith in general, and to the Christian faith in particular. I AM ASKING FOR A RESPONSE! Please let me know (through “comments” or “contact” ) what you think of this list, what is missing or misstated or inaccurate or unfair or anything else. Thanks in advance.
At the very end of the gospel of John, the evangelist …

[22 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]

Can one write about humility without being just a bit proud if it comes out sounding profound, well-expressed and, well, humble? Let me give it a try.
Humility is one of the most attractive and powerful of the virtues, but it will at best get you a tip of the hat in the culture wars and no respect at all from your inner atheist (who will take it as weakness). With humility plus four dollars you can get a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
The word ultimately derives from humus—the Latin for …

[18 Aug 2011 | 2 Comments | ]

It’s always nice to find that someone agrees with you, especially if they have a title. I posted a few days ago about deafness as a metaphor for combatants in the culture wars not being able to hear/understand each other. My point was that we speak different languages and mishear each other.
So it was comforting this morning to read the following in regard to Michelle Bachmann being questioned on the New Testament passage regarding women submitting to their husbands. This comes from John Green, director of the Ray Bliss Institute …

[15 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]

My name is Nate Taylor and I’m a guest blogger for I occasionally blog over at Redhead in Rapid and you’ll find me blogging here from time to time on a variety of topics, from public policy to science to the woes of the Timberwolves. Now living in the heartland of Indiana I seem to make it a life goal not to live in a state for more than two years. Thanks DT for the opportunity. My first post follows.
Redhead in Rapid

[15 Aug 2011 | One Comment | ]

One of my favorite commentators on the intertubes is The Atlantic Monthly’s Ta-Nehisi Coates. Always thoughtful, he is worth reading, even when one disagrees with him. Writing about “blackness,” identity, and community, Coates states:
“Put differently, as discomfiting as this may sound, all communities have boundaries–and not only do they have them, they are necessarily defined by them…It’s true that the boundaries of the collective create problems for the individual–problems that should be confronted and wrestled with. But this a human problem, and the implication that black people are in exclusive …

[12 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]

Frank Kermode, in his very interesting (and secular) book on the gospels, The Genesis of Secrecy: On Interpretation of Narrative (Harvard, 1979) quotes the 1930’s novelist Henry Green: “the very deaf, as I am, hear the most astounding things all round them, which have not, in fact, been said. This enlivens my replies until, through mishearing, a new level of communication is reached” (p. 13). (I’ve experienced this first hand from both ends: “Is this Thursday?” “Yes, me too. Let’s get something to drink.”)
This is both a humorous and helpful …

[10 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]

I was riding in a car yesterday and saw a scene straight from Norman Rockwell. A father was seemingly mowing his lawn and right behind him was his around four-year-old son pushing a small, plastic toy lawnmower, head down and very earnest in his mowing. (I say ‘seemingly’ because I don’t think the father’s power mower was actually running.)
It was cute, of course, (that all-purpose sugar word), but it was also quite ancient and profound. Most of the things that we know—practical, intellectual, artistic, spiritual, moral—we have learned (as individuals …

[8 Aug 2011 | 2 Comments | ]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s cousin says that as a child Dietrich was greatly moved by reading a book entitled Heroes of Everyday, filled with stories of courageous young people who, with selflessness and clear thinking, often saved other’s lives, sometimes at the cost of their own (Metaxas, pp. 18-19). And, apparently, Bonhoeffer was reading Plutarch’s Lives–stories exploring the character of ancient figures–shortly before he was executed. Can we doubt that Bonhoeffer’s reading shaped his acting, including the decision to risk his own life to save others?
Ethics are more formed by the …

[5 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]

(Following in an excerpt for the work-in-progress The Skeptical Believer)
“I have been away from God for a large part of my life . . . . I had gone into exile of my free will.”
Wim Wenders
You Just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free
Paul Simon “Fifty Ways to Leave a Lover”
Why would anyone who has ever known God choose to walk away?
That …

[3 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]

I was reading this morning about relatively new concerns about the Internet, and especially about search engines. Searching on the Internet is increasingly personalized, in ways that are not apparent to the searcher. Google and Amazon, for instance, have secret (for competitive reasons) algorithms that use your past searching patterns to give you highly personalized results. If you and someone else enter a search word in Google, you will not necessarily get the same results.
This may seem either harmless or beneficial. If Amazon has figured out what kind of books …