The strange, countercultural message of Netflix’s ‘The Crown’

Last week my wife and I watched Netflix’s new show, The Crown. I found the story riveting, its characters compelling, and the angle surprisingly countercultural. The first season (out of projected six) deals with the ascension of Elizabeth II to the English throne in 1952 and the first decade of her reign. Her father, George VI, died of lung cancer. But Peter Morgan’s script suggests it was the weight of a job…

The faith of the revolutionary generation—and our own

It might sound like a stretch, but you can learn a lot about contemporary faith and politics from colonial needlework. Leading up to the war with Britain, American colonists struggled to make sense of unfolding events. Escalating encroachments were resisted by the colonists, whose sometimes-violent actions provoked further crackdowns. The cycle intensified throughout the late 1760s and into the new decade, spawning boycotts, riots, and worse—including the Boston Massacre in March 1770.…

Christian choice in an age of fracture

Christians in the early church regularly fasted, but the practice could vary place to place. So when Augustine’s mother Monica moved, she was stumped. Should she follow the fasting regimen of her home church in Carthage or her new church in Milan? Augustine couldn’t provide a definitive answer. He wasn’t a communing member of the church at that point. But he put the question to their bishop who said the right approach…

Christianity: Use only as directed

In Graham Greene’s story The Third Man, people suffer and die because of diluted penicillin purchased on the black market in postwar Vienna. American Christianity is suffering a similar fate, though our diluted faith is practiced in the open for all to see. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat once raised the issue by pointing to the conundrum of Bible no-no’s flourishing in the Bible Belt. Social scientists affirm the positive connection…

Faith without dogma? Sorry, that’s impossible

Gospel music phenom Kirk Franklin says that he wants faith without dogma. “I feel that the pursuit of trying to know who God is, and trying to be known by God, can be lost in religion,” he told NPR in a recent interview. Franklin sees religion as “man’s attempt to try to put a definition on something that is very hard to define.” It “can create so much of a dogma .…