Category: History

Monica Lewinsky on the price of shame

In her well-received TED talk last week, Monica Lewinsky reminded her audience that many of today’s young adults were only children in 1998, when she became infamous overnight for her relationship with then-president Bill Clinton. She learned then what many have learned since: news travels fast and far in the digital age, especially when it’s mortifying. In her talk, “The Price of Shame,”…  [more]

The problem with Obama’s Crusades comment

Last week, President Barack Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast remarks about religious violence were not well-received. Noting the relationship between violence and religion in various times and places, he referenced Christianity’s connection with the Crusades, the Inquisition and American slavery and segregation. It’s true that Christians and the church have been complicit in violence –…  [more]

Why every Christian should care about nuclear disarmament

The Cold War ended decades ago, but since then the global conversation on nuclear weapons has been heating up. Yet the issue of nuclear arms is so complex and its stakes so high that most ordinary citizens are at a loss to formulate reasonably informed opinions. In fact, few outside a small number of specialists are knowledgeable about the topic. This is why the Nuclear Threat Initiative sponsored the attendance of…  [more]

How the anti-vaccination movement turns a blind eye toward history

On Wednesday, Google’s home page featured a happy illustration. In a street scene, smiling adults watched children play joyfully. Two children carried a sign in honor of the occasion: “Thank you, Dr. Salk!” On the 100th anniversary of Jonas Salk’s birth, some stopped to recognize his achievement and generosity in developing a polio vaccine and sharing it with the world. Many were happily…  [more]

A theology of billboards

Three years ago my family moved to Austin, Texas. Our very first spring we got a front row seat to the effects of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, a legacy of former first lady Lady Bird Johnson. In a place known for heat and drought, springtime in Texas kicks off a wildflower parade up and down the state’s medians and roadways. Johnson’s concern about the increasing number of billboards crowding…  [more]

Homegrown terrorists and the human need to belong

What if a Western Islamic man knocking on the door of a terrorist organization is really looking for the love of God? I don’t even want to think about the possibility. Those who join the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) are our enemies and have sworn to destroy us. Attempting to understand them feels like betrayal. Anyone who chooses ISIS is 100% evil. Period. United States President Barack Obama…  [more]

Salvaging sacred music in Syria

As the horrifying actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) reached mainstream consciousness last month, I found myself driving my car angry and unsettled. The gravity of this situation defied my capacity for understanding. Then the NPR station I had on played some modern-day Syrian men singing the Lord’s Prayer in ancient Aramaic, and I lost it. That afternoon, the deeply spiritual power…  [more]

Remembering 9/11, and the Bible’s take on fear

These remarks were given at a recent chapel for employees of the Christian Reformed Church, TC’s parent denomination. Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001? I suspect each of us remembers the moment that we heard about what had happened. I remember where I was. I was a young mother at the time, fumbling my way through life as a stay-at-home mom. I had driven to my parents’ house that morning, eager for adult…  [more]

Obama, Phil Robertson and how we talk about the militants of ISIS

After Steven Sotloff became the second American journalist to be killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), many expressed outrage and called on political leaders to take action. In the midst of this, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, an outspoken Christian, again caused a stir when he said that ISIS members should either be converted or killed. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, declared that…  [more]

Planting pines, praying for peace

When someone mentioned the benefits of white pines recently at an ecological design course I was taking in California, my ears perked up. I’d just coordinated the purchase of 100 white pine seedlings before I departed home, to be planted along the road at the retreat center where I work, joining other white pines as a barrier against noise and visual clutter. With limited time to research anything…  [more]

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