Tony Woodlief | Author


The Gratitude Inoculation

I’ve not been what you would call a grateful person. The truth is, for most of my life I’ve been a surly, critical, stew-on-the-inside-when-things-don’t-go-precisely-my-way kind of person. In the movie Sling Blade, Dwight Yoakam’s character Doyle indicts himself as “assholish.” Yeah, that shoe fits. I probably don’t have to tell you ingratitude is like a …

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Gentle disagreement

I’ve been wrestling for weeks with how to be at peace with fellow Christians who also happen to be harmfully heretical (and popular) teachers. On the one hand, we’re all supposed to love one another and get along. On the other hand, love doesn’t dictate that we pretend a donkey is a unicorn, at least …

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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, …

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The scandal of the evangelical intellectual’s mind

A reasonable response to the accusation that the evangelical mind is insufficiently expansive is to ask to what dimensions its critics would like to see it expanded. That question springs to the lips when considering Biblical scholar Peter Enns’s contention that evangelical minds are not only confined, but are required to remain in confinement. “The …

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Father Stephen Freeman, of Tennessee, writes about the importance of fasting as Orthodox Christians enter the Nativity Fast. His thoughts are useful for anyone, however, who wants to understand the value of fasting to the Christian. An excerpt: “If we fast but do not forgive our enemies – our fasting is of no use. If …

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Civic religion

Seton Hall history professor William Connell offers an informative defense of Columbus Day: “The holiday marks the event, not the person. What Columbus gets criticized for nowadays are attitudes that were typical of the European sailing captains and merchants who plied the Mediterranean and the Atlantic in the 15th century. Within that group he was …

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“For they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’ . . . Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the …

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The missing third

Inevitably, in secularized society, after some particularly heinous butchery there is the news article that might be titled: “Searching for Answers.” In this article the reporter speculates on what might have gone wrong in those two-thirds of the murderer — body and mind — that he must pretend are all that constitutes a man. Inevitably …

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On the facilitation of murder

Reading Bruce Falconer’s article in last month’s Atlantic, about Swiss suicide facilitator Ludwig Manelli, I was struck by a husband’s repeated employment of animal metaphors to justify his wife’s poisoning. “You wouldn’t leave your dog on the kitchen floor when it can’t walk, can’t eat, can’t go outside to the toilet. Transform one life form to another, …

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Blood and mystery

One of G.K. Chesterton’s arguments in Everlasting Man is that the ancient pagans never really revered their petty gods and spirits and magical tree stumps nearly as much as the modern humanist, overflowing with tolerance and reverence for any belief system that distinguishes itself by not being Christian, imagines they did. They knew there was …

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Christian Radio Pirate derives the new Christianity from a sampling of seeker-friendly churches: “Christ Follower: Someone who has made the decision to be an emotionally well adjusted self-actualized risk taking leader who knows his purpose, lives a ‘no regrets’ life of significance, has overcome his fears, enjoys a healthy marriage with better than average sex, …

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The weeping Christ

From David Bentley Hart’s First Things article, “Tsunami and Theodicy,” rightly called once again to our attention, in light of recent disasters, by Civitate: “I do not believe we Christians are obliged — or even allowed — to look upon the devastation visited upon the coasts of the Indian Ocean and to console ourselves with …

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“Conversion is a return to nature, from what is contrary to nature to what is proper to it.”  (St. John Damascene)

Hospital, not courtroom

“Did you commit sin? Enter the Church, repent for your sin, for here is the physician, not the judge. Here, one is not investigated; one receives remission of sins.”  (St. John Chrysostom)