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The Mayflower Pilgrims, Liberty, and some Familiar Questions

2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth, a significant milestone no doubt obscured by the nation’s election and COVID.  In true technocratic form, one’s appraisal of this event depends on algorithmic suggestion no less than a philosophy of history. Articles praising the Pilgrims as an embryonic community of liberty-loving patriots can be matched by scholars who decry…

A Season to Consider (again) The City of God

In March 2016, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore wrote an article titled “Reading Augustine in an Election Year.”  Drawing on the principal theme of The City of God, a book some recognize, fewer have read, and even fewer have finished, the motif of “two cities” is no less important today as it was four year ago, for in Moore’s words, “it can…

A Cynical if Comprehensible Take on Adoption and Race

If you have been following contemporary politics, President Trump’s prospective nominee for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, has been the subject of vigorous debate, notably in the last week.   Barrett is a mother of seven children, whose ages span 8 and 18 years, five of which are biological, the youngest having Down Syndrome. Two of the Barrett children were adopted from…

“A Man of Power”: A Theological Take on H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man

Two weeks ago, Janai and I finished reading H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man. Published in 1897, the book is considered one of the earliest works of the science fiction genre. As the title suggests, the story’s central figure is a mysterious man who has discovered a chemical formula that makes him invisible. Early portions of the narrative describe the curious musings…

A Method Applied: What it Means for Wearing Masks

In a blog post on August 1st, I looked at resistance to wearing face masks as indicative of deeper commitments about the nature of freedom and how Jesus’ actions in Matthew’s Gospel can provide guidance for this subject. In a subsequent article, I attempted to show disagreement is often connected to differences in how a person gathers and arranges knowledge, structures their…

A Method in a Time of Madness

In a previous post (August 1st) on resistance to wearing masks I was asked about going a little deeper on what I believe divides people on this particular issue and others similar to it. In this post I try to look at how disagreement is often connected to differences in how a person gathers and arranges knowledge, structures their thought, and communicates…

Laughter and Comprehension: Reinhold Niebuhr and the Irony of American History

For the past several months I’ve been working on a chapter, “The Pilgrims and Religious Liberty,” to be included in an upcoming book: Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth: A Quadricentennial Celebration of the Mayflower Pilgrims, 1620–2020. Months of research have brought some surprises, dispelled some myths, and led to the conclusion—which almost always accompanies honest investigation—that history is complicated. The nuances,…

Silence, Compliance and Speaking Wisely in our Time of Protest

Christ Driving the Money-Changers from the Temple by Cecco Caravaggio (1610) “And Jesus told those who sold pigeons, ‘take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” John 2:16–17 Earlier this week, there was a post circulating on social media that had an…

“A Hard Love”: Deciding for or Against God in Camus’ The Plague

Each Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle lists the ten most popular fiction and non-fiction reads among Bay Area residents. Most books have been published in the last two years. A few weeks ago, however, a modern classic cracked the tenth spot: The Plague (1947) by Albert Camus (1913–1960).   COVID19 is an ostensible explanation for The Plague’s bump in readership. With no premonition…