White ashes

Last I checked there were 36,000 mentions of Jimmy Fallon in the news, and 8,820 of Kermit Gosnell. It’s understandable if you haven’t heard of Gosnell. He’s a Philadelphia abortionist on trial for, among other things, murdering newborns by snipping their spines with scissors. He did this after failing to murder them while some portion …

On false compassion

The challenge when debating a liberal Christian is that he is bound by neither Scripture nor tradition but sentiment. He is therefore free to embrace both sin and sinner, and thereby appear more loving, more magnanimous, than his opponents. This magnanimity carries a subtle condescension, as in the first sentence of Dave Barnhart’s recent essay, …

Cheaper by the dozen

There is a difference between being anti-intellectual and being anti-intellect, and this is where Russell Jacoby foundered, in his essay last year about the lack of intellectualism among conservatives. As Peter Lawler notes, it’s shoddily done for want of defining terms, which is a frequent flaw in Chronicle of Higher Ed essays about conservatism. There …

Gays, Boy Scouts, and dogma

The Boy Scouts of America is considering an end to its prohibition against homosexual troop leaders, deferring that decision to local councils. Sexual molestation! cry opponents, and so into the breach rushes the conscientious journalist, whose moral obligation is to remind readers of the evidence that homosexuals are no more prone to molestation than heterosexuals. …

Slippery words

You might like my latest post at Good Letters. An excerpt: “We are used to words not meaning anything, you see, and so who cares if foot-long is not supposed to mean eleven inches, that cheese is not supposed to be a vegetable oil and whey composite, that deli meat is not supposed to be shaved from …

Literally small-minded

Granted, playwright turned conservative-screed artist David Mamet lately comes across like that kid in philosophy class who just got hold of Atlas Shrugged and believes everyone should read it immediately. Still, he’s not an idiot. Which is what makes Ta-Nehisi Coates’s critique of Mamet’s recent gun rights essay so, well, idiotic. Consider the paragraph that particularly …

Elect art

My latest short story is in the current edition of Image, for those of you with a literary bent. And for those of you bent theologically, in this case, because in my story John Calvin attends a writing workshop so he can learn to craft Christian romance novels. That’s not what the story is about, …

Problem-rushers

We’re trying to find an office manager, and so I’ve had to articulate what makes for a good employee. This is a treacherous and particularized endeavor, because the people who appear to be good employees for other bosses would likely drive me crazy to the point of pushing them from a window, and this is …

Childlike

Back when I thought I knew something about God, I sought arguments. God is this, and God is not that, and those scriptures you think say one thing actually mean something else, don’t you know. I thought her simple and silly, though good-hearted. Hers was the Sunday School God, the “Jesus Loves Me” God, a …

Abandoning children

The intellectual consensus seems to be that having children is miserable business. This consensus is built on shoddy thinking and shoddier statistics. The latest example is brought to us by Why Have Kids? author Jessica Valenti, who notes that in the wake of Nebraska’s “safe haven” law allowing parents and caregivers to abandon children without prosecution, …