BRILLIANT AND BEAUTIFUL BLOG
My Favorite Books from 2016
Stories awaken. They draw me into another world. They help me see reality through another’s eyes. As C. S. Lewis aptly put it, “in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see.” So, stories rattle me out of my slumber. They also teach me. I learn about space and time, hope and aspiration, human longing and evil, goodness and beauty, truth and hope. I learn—especially when reading philosophy or theology—how to think better as I pull the curtain back and peer into the depth of God or the world he has made. I am challenged to live a heroic life and to push away the temptation toward sloth. All of this, and more, from reading!
Should We Love God and Nothing Else?
Some Christians think we should love God and God alone. The idea is this. God is supreme. God is the ultimate object of all human longing. He is the only Being in all of reality that won’t let us down. We should therefore love God and shun all else. This line of thinking is deeply mistaken. It is also unbiblical. Nor can it be done; we cannot love God alone.
Discovering the Truth: Cold-Case Christianity for Kids
A modern myth is that learning and fun are incompatible. Learning is boring, drab, and dull. Entertainment is exciting, stimulating, and captivating. Never—or almost never—the two shall meet, or so the common myth goes. Sadly, this incompatibility between learning and fun is often perpetuated within the church.
The Great Barbarism of our Day
In a world bereft of objective value, nothing is good in itself. People and things are judged valuable only if they are deemed beneficial for something else. The only “real” value is economic. As a result we’re witnessing the systematic degradation of everything. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is good per se.
Will Heaven Be Boring? Near Death Experiences and our Imagination
Belief in the afterlife is a staple feature of all cultures throughout human history. Just what the afterlife will be like is a question of considerable debate. In the Christian tradition, heaven is said to be the deepest longing of the human heart; hell the consequence of a life of self-love and sin.
C. S. Lewis on the Practical Value of Friendship
A mark of the digital age is a dearth of genuine friendship. Relationships today are largely mediated through pixels and measured by the length of a Snapchap streak or the number of Facebook “likes” received. The plague of superficiality spreads as we forget how to look others in the eye, carry on a conversation, and simply be together. The end result is an epidemic of loneliness.
The Unforgivable Sin of Philosophy?
A standard, albeit potted, way of characterizing the dominant modes of thought for ancient, modern, and postmodern intellectuals is in terms of the relationship between being and knowing. The concept of “being” has to do with metaphysics: what kinds of things exist and how do they relate? The concept of “knowing” has to do with epistemology: what can we know and how can we know it? For the ancient thinker, as the story goes, issues of being were primary and knowing secondary. In the modern era, this relationship was reversed: knowing determines being and not vice-versa. With the so-called postmodern era—an era I think has largely passed—neither being nor knowing are primary: rather our shared use of language determines what we can know, which in turn determines what there is.
In Defense of the Liberal Arts
The purpose of the university, in the good old days, was to make fully functioning human beings. Alas today the purpose of the university is to created human doings, automaton who possess marketable skills—but are incapable of participating in a thoughtful conversation. The university, traditionally a place for the cultivation of intellectual and moral virtue, is today largely driven by market factors which place a priority on sports over academics, image over substance, and research—especially grant money research—over teaching. Only the fittest students and professors survive.
Terrorist attacks by Muslims have almost become a routine of 21st century life. Daily it seems we read of new assaults by Muslims in the Middle East, Africa, and now, in Europe and North America. A very natural question to ask concerns the religion of Islam itself. Is Islam a religion of peace, as many claim, or is it a religion of violence, as my daily newsfeed suggests? Is the problem “radical” Islam or “fundamentalist” Islam or just run of the mill Islam? In our politically correct environment, these are not easy questions to answer. Yet, they have real implications: should America send troops to fight ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al-Qaeda? Should America allow Syrian refuges to enter the country? Should the future president ban all Muslims from entering the United States?
Could Jesus Sin? The Problem of the Incarnate Temptation
The consistent teaching of the New Testament is that Jesus, “the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) is himself without sin. He is a perfect sacrifice for the sins of man because he himself, unlike the rest of us, never did wrong. He is without blemish. He is not bent, crooked, or fallen. There is, however, a philosophical problem lurking in the shadows.