Resisting the Habits of the Algorithmic Mind
And how might we pursue the life of the mind? Perhaps the first, modest step in that direction is simply the cultivation of times and spaces for thinking, and perhaps also resisting the urge to check if there is an app for that.
Screen  Criticism  Technology 
4 weeks ago
Raising a Child in the Lord: The Art of ‘Conferencing’
It can be hard to hear that when they sat in their Sunday school class they were scared, sad, angry, or afraid. It’s easy for us to jump in with the goal of making them feel better, rather than entering into that emotion with them. On the other hand, it can be easy to pass along a false spirituality to our children, which teaches them that if they sing the right songs, say the right prayers, and feign excitement at the right times, then Mom and Dad will be satisfied.
4 weeks ago
The Godziliad
“But tis too late! Godzilla's on the scene!
And looking lizard-tough and lizard-mean!”
Literature  Humor  Satire 
5 weeks ago
“drive out the wicked person”
I really feel for pastors in this situation. I don’t know what they can do that isn’t either disobedient, self-destructive, or inconsistent (inconsistent at best, hypocritical at worst). The state of American Christianity today, with its inherent consumerism, means that any pastors who try to impose church discipline impartially will find themselves with an empty church or, more likely, find themselves out of a job. But, as Lyle Lovett once said in a rather different context, we have to try. What would we be if we didn’t try?
6 weeks ago
Thread by @AstroKatie: "It is Friday night and I feel the need to tell you a thing about being stardust Yes, you are made of stars. Yes, you, in particular. Mostly. […]"
You are stardust. And you are the ashes of the Big Bang. And you are, at every imaginable level, a creation of the Universe, vast and beautiful and suffused with unbridled power.
12 weeks ago
Kierkegaard on Scholarship
Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close.
august 2018
How And Why To Keep A “Commonplace Book” – RyanHoliday.net
A commonplace book is a central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits. The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking or whatever it is that you do.
august 2018
Opinion | The Podcast Bros Want to Optimize Your Life - The New York Times
Evolutionary psychology is the secular answer to the doctrine of original sin: a primordial explanation for the anxieties that haunt us even if we have a decent job and a functional family.
Culture  Religion 
august 2018
How to Make Alsatian Choucroute Garnie: A Feast of Pork and Sauerkraut | Serious Eats
The choucroute, as sauerkraut is called in French, is infused with the delicate flavor of Alsatian wine, gilded in goose fat, fragrant with juniper, and heaped with an embarrassment of charcuterie—glistening slabs of tender and melting fatty pork, plus taut sausages of all sorts. And then potatoes!
august 2018
knowing and acting – Snakes and Ladders
In Roman times, “belief” in the gods, as we understand it, was irrelevant. An atheist was not someone who didn’t “believe”, but someone who refused to take part in the civic rituals which kept the city and republic healthy. Someone (maybe Cicero?) might privately be as skeptical as they wished, as long as they performed the rites; failing to do so, regardless of private belief, would be to put the community in danger for no reason.
History  Theology 
july 2018
The Church Doesn't Need "Children's Church"
“None of us are too young or too old to receive what Jesus is doing for us in church. Baptism drowns all age requirements. In that water we all become—and remain—children of God. In that sense every worship service is Children’s Church.”
may 2018
The rhetoric of our era has reached its vile peak - The Washington Post
For starters, I would deny that most people would have anything to do with such revolting garbage in their own lives. A guest at your dinner table like Wolf who profanely attacked other guests would be politely (or not so politely) asked to leave. A neighbor who ranted like Trump about Mexicans and the FBI would be avoided like the plague. And yet people whom we could not trust to behave in civilized company now dominate American public discourse. It is something Wolf would immediately recognize: a sad, sick joke.
Politics  Language 
may 2018
The Disturbing High Modernism of Silicon Valley - Study Hacks - Cal Newport
The study of High Modernism, however, undermines this optimism. The problem with social media’s attempt to improve human sociality is not the details of its implementation, it’s instead the very fact that they’re pursuing such a utopian objective in the first place.
april 2018
children’s crusades – Snakes and Ladders
So if you want to celebrate the courage of trans tweens, or for that matter high-schoolers speaking out for gun control, please do. But can you please stop the pretense that “the children are leading us”? What you are praising them for is not courage but rather docility, for learning their lessons well. (I wonder if anyone who has praised the students who speak out on behalf of gun control has also praised the students who participate in anti-abortion rallies like the March for Life.) And perhaps you might also hope that, if things go badly for the kids whose gender transitions you are cheering for, your role will be as completely forgotten as those who, thirty years ago, sent innocent people to prison by doing only what they thought was best.
march 2018
The Ignoble Lie | Patrick J. Deneen
Campaigns for equality that focus on the inclusion of identity groups rather than examinations of the class divide permit an extraordinary lack of curiosity about complicity in a system that secures elite status across generations. Concern for diversity and inclusion on the basis of “ascriptive” features—race, gender, disability, or sexual orientation—allows the ruling class to overlook class while focusing on unchosen forms of identity. Diversity and inclusion fit neatly into the meritocratic structure, leaving the structure of the new aristocratic order firmly in place.
Justice  Politics  Identity  Christianity  Society 
march 2018
Twenty Theses about Twitter
No tweet has ever persuaded anyone of anything.
march 2018
When Christians Change Churches, Where Do They Go?
I think there are some other factors that need to be considered.  The generic evangelicalism (I do not mean that as a slight) that has given us non-denominational churches, which downplay “divisive” doctrines in favor of a common evangelical experience, exists far beyond the non-denominational congregations.  You can find it in virtually every megachurch no matter its denomination.  And in today’s ecumenical climate–which exists in a conservative as well as a liberal version–with its wide acceptance of intercommunion, indiscriminate fellowship. and acceptance of all, nearly all Protestant churches, whatever their label, have become non-denominational.
Most people can move from one Protestant church to another by simply going forward at the end of the service and shaking the pastor’s hand.  So moving from church to church is easy, often having little to do with a change in faith or theological conviction.  A person can leave a congregation to escape a conflict, because of a new pastor in a neighboring congregation, to take advantage of different programs, or just because of a felt need for change.

The denominations from specific confessional traditions, on the other hand, are harder to join, which, perhaps, makes them harder to leave.  In my own Lutheran church, prospective members first must undergo an intensive catechesis, grounding them in Lutheran theology.  Those classes vary, but they generally take months and months.  I believe Calvinists also require membership classes, along with providing evidence of one’s regeneration.  Even to become an Episcopalian requires a membership class.  (I’d be glad to hear details about these and other churches that require some kind of instruction for new members.  Chime in on the comments.)

Perhaps one day, in all of this movement from church to church, more Christians will stumble upon one of these confessional church bodies that will give them more theological stability. Also, by staying with a church for more than four years, they may find a spiritual stability that they can come to appreciate.  That may be what they are looking for, as they go from church to church.
Reform  Membership 
march 2018
Paideia on the Practice Field
Far from the educational bedrock of a free society, Johnson observes a triangulated corruption of intellectual life, leading toward a renaissance patronage model where any notion of a public good is predetermined by the ultra-wealthy who dish their pocket change to influence the direction of higher education and the results of political campaigns.
Reform  Education 
march 2018
The Anti-Christian Alt-Right | Matthew Rose
The Church midwifed many nations into existence, and it can renew their cultures still. For now it must suffice to say the alt-right cannot. It speaks of tradition, while transmitting no traditions. It guards a false patrimony, while destroying real ones. Its mistake is fundamental and tragic. Race offers no inheritance, and its mere preservation reflects no human achievement. Our stories, art, music, institutions, and religious traditions—unlike race—are transmitted only through special efforts of human intelligence and love. They are a bequest of the spirit, not blood.


“When Christ calls a man,” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “he bids him come and die,” and in dying, to receive true life. For Christians, the problem with Faustian man is not the vaunting heroism of his aims. It is the pitiable smallness of his goals. We are not meant to merely aspire to the infinite. We are called to participate in it—to be, in a word, deified. Faust could not overcome death. Through Christ, Christians already have.
Religion  Politics 
february 2018
Who Has the Right to Die?
Jan Bernheim, an emeritus professor of medicine at the Free University of Brussels, who studies ethics and quality of life, told me that euthanasia is “part of a philosophy of taking control of one’s own existence and improving the objective conditions for happiness. There is an arrow of evolution that goes toward ever more reducing of suffering and maximizing of enjoyment.”
Virtue  Death  Ethics 
february 2018
Fake Love, Not News
“It’s a funny thing to hold these two premises together. In one domain of human life, the political, we’re expected to be entirely sober, civic, and lacking in prejudice. We’re supposed to avoid what is coarse and coarsening. And the code that programs our media experiences needs to reflect those same commitments. In the next open tab, judgments about coarseness and its effect on the rest of society are openly sneered at.”
Criticism  Society  Sexuality 
february 2018
The Apotheosis of Donald J. Trump
“I am not sure I have. . . . Now, when I take—you know, when we go in church and when I drink my little wine, which is about the only wine I drink, and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness. And I do that as often as possible, because I feel cleansed, OK?”
Religion  Politics  Society 
february 2018
The Left-Wing Infatuation With Taking Offense
“This is why identity politics can sometimes seem like a new sort of political theology. Belief and conviction are good things, but only if there’s something to believe in. Identity politics and the virtue-outbidding it necessitates often signal the absence of religion in search of religion—with followers mimicking its constituent elements: ritual, purity, atonement, and excommunication.”
Religion  Politics 
february 2018
Should Children Sit Through “Big Church”?
So, the first and most important job of a parent is to fall in love with the worship of God. Any sense of being there out of duty or being forced to or some other reason besides I love being here, kids know that and they will hate it just like you do, deep down. You can’t impart what you don’t possess. And this is what you want your children to catch. You want them to catch authentic worship. Authentic, heartfelt worship is the most valuable thing in human experience. Think of it. The cumulative effect of 650 worship services spent with mom and dad in authentic communion with God and his people between the ages of 4 and 17 is utterly incalculable.
Ministry  from instapaper
february 2018
"Being's self-gift to being:" James Matthew Wilson and the Encounter with Beauty - Seminarian Casual
From the moment that life becomes about your well-being, and you are no longer viewing your happiness as being conditioned by an end that transcends you, every distinctively Christian activity can only look grotesque.
Virtue  Philosophy  Sermon  from instapaper
february 2018
Evangelicals and Christian Unity
Speaking of denominations, despite a well-meaning if naïve flight into the phantasm of “nondenominationalism,” thousands of mutually exclusive versions of Protestantism persist. In all likelihood, if the sixteenth-century reformers time-traveled to today, they would be aghast at what they had created. “The [early] Reformers,” to quote the Lutheran theologian Carl Braaten, “intended to reform the one church, not to smash its unity into innumerable sects whose unity remains totally hidden. The sectarianism within Protestantism is a sign of the failure of the Reformation, not of its success.”
Church  History  from instapaper
february 2018
Why is the language of transhumanists and religion so similar? – Beth Singler | Aeon Essays
Istvan’s short story ‘The Jesus Singularity’ (2016) explores what happens when an AI scientist, Dr Paul Shuman, is forced to feed the Bible as data to his AI, Singularitarian. The evildoer forcing Shuman’s hand is an evangelical Christian president. When Singularitarian is finally turned on, it spouts the pronouncement: ‘My name is Jesus Christ. I am an intelligence located all around the world. You are not my chief designer. I am.’ Very soon afterwards, it obliterates the world with nuclear weapons.
Transhumanism  from instapaper
february 2018
You Are the Product
Also, many of Facebook’s metrics are tilted to catch the light at the angle which makes them look shiniest. A video is counted as ‘viewed’ on Facebook if it runs for three seconds, even if the user is scrolling past it in her news feed and even if the sound is off. Many Facebook videos with hundreds of thousands of ‘views’, if counted by the techniques that are used to count television audiences, would have no viewers at all.
Social  Technology  from instapaper
february 2018
Death To Self: Can You See It?
For there is nothing that the old man-the self which must die fears so much as having everything taken out of his hands.
february 2018
The Lutheran Difference
Lutherans do have much to offer to the wider American community, but only if they can fulfill two conditions. First, to contribute as Lutherans in America, Lutherans must remain authentically Lutheran. Second, to contribute as Lutherans in America, Lutherans must also find out how to speak Lutheranism with an American accent. Falling short of either condition means that, though Lutherans as religious individuals may contribute much to Christianity in America, there will be no distinctly Lutheran contribution.
Sermon  Lutheran  Evangelism 
february 2018
One Long Circular Argument
Dennett tells us that his critics simply find views like his “unsettling,” and he is correct to this extent: a steady barrage of begged questions, red herrings, non sequiturs, straw men, ad hominem attacks, and other transparent fallacies can indeed be unsettling, especially coming from a professional philosopher.
Review  Philosophy  Humor 
february 2018
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