The Mathetian Option (Part One)

The God of the Scriptures is a very specific sort of deity. He is the architect who created and fashioned all things in a logical and orderly sequence. While he does not permanently expel chaos from the cosmos, he makes clear that disorder is not good but a distortion of goodness and a movement towards non-being. God then places man in the midst of his creation and asks him to share in his work of establishing order by tending and keeping the garden.  Together with Zoe, Adam is tasked with subduing chaos and filling the void…

Analyzing the Hartford Appeal – Part 3

It was not too long ago that the “New Atheists” ruled the discourse of religion in the public sphere. The agitations of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris rocked the bookshelves and journals for some time. This was the popularization and revalorization of certain criticisms of the Christian faith that have been with us for some time. Put simply, the God of Christians cannot be good or even believable according to our current understanding of science and morality. Religion must submit to the strictures of the empirical and the parameters of the scientific…

Analyzing the Hartford Appeal – Part 2

Who does not love the rush of getting something new? I remember, with some shame, that this was in my youth the rush of Christmas. “What new gadget would I get? A video game? A computer? Oh, no….socks and underwear. The tragedy! My Christmas is over! So many friends of mine got cool expensive gadgets! And me? I got socks and a stupid old board game.” I needed that new video game or iPad or camera. The sense of loss was immense. While this is not my internal struggle with Christmas now, this still describes my…

Analyzing the Hartford Appeal – Part 1

On April 1, 1975 Worldview Magazine published “An Appeal for Theological Affirmation: The Hartford Statement”. The themes of this Appeal were first thought up on evening in January 1974 at the home of Peter Berger, an eminent and respected sociologist. There Richard John Neuhaus and Berger, with great fun, made up a list of major themes in mainline Protestantism that irritated them. The irritation came from what they saw as serious problems arising from the assumptions being made in so much Christian engagement with public life in the United States. They shared this list with a…

Waging War – A Call to Arms pt 4

We ended our last entry in this series with a string of questions regarding how Orthodox Christians should approach moral issues in the public sphere. How are we as Orthodox Christians are to conduct ourselves in public discourse, especially in disagreements and clashes over the meaning of our life together? Culture war at its heart is a conflict of meaning and how to order our lives together. There are grotesque and even cartoonish ways in which we can engage in disagreement. Slander, misrepresentation, and arguing from a place of bad faith pervade so many interactions. The…

Culture War? A Call to Arms pt 3

We ended our last post in this series by pointing to “strategies of retreat.” But, I think it best we first address the infamous conflagration known as “culture wars.” For it is concern about “culture wars” that spurs other forms of retreat.  In some of the responses to this series, I was surprised to see this discussion labelled as “culture war.” Why was I surprised? Well, I have done little in the past two posts but assess how I think Orthodox Christians would hear and react to Robert George’s article. If I am being labeled as…

Congress as ‘sacred ground’?

To listen to the New York Times and the Washington Post tell it, the events of 6 January were nothing less than an unforgivable act of sacrilege and blasphemy. ‘Inside the most sacred spaces of American democracy,’ went the New York Times report by Grynbaum, Koblin and Hsu, unfolded an abomination of desolation worthy of the breaking news format ‘reserved for foreign wars, natural disasters or terrorist attacks’. Now, I am someone who likes public order and stability as public goods. Order and stability are valuable no matter where they happen to be. So yes, I…

Escaping the West: A Call to Arms pt. 2

We are returning to an entry I posted a few weeks ago about Robert P. George’s article “The Pagan Public Square: Our Christian Duty to Fight Has Not Been Cancelled.” In conclusion there I stated that I wanted to “sketch out how Orthodoxy may fruitfully respond” to George’s article. Well, I believe I still need to focus on assessing Orthodoxy in North America…so my sketches will be postponed until I feel I have adequately drawn up some of the challenges facing the Orthodox Church as we engage with the North American public square.  Assessing George’s “Call…

Live Not By Lies…but which ones? [Book Review]

As the title of this review intimates, I liked Rod Dreher’s new book Live Not By Lies (2020), but I believe there are some blind spots in it.  Overall, I appreciated the second part of the book more than the first half.  And having read all of his books, I think I’m in a pretty good position to understand his oeuvre and general authorial strengths and weaknesses.   First, the positive. Dreher is a fantastic storyteller. He has a uniquely powerful ability to weave his own emotions into a narrative to punch it up to a new level. …