Category: History

Sanctuary Cities and the Church

The term “sanctuary city” has been popping up in the news a lot lately. While not an official title, it is used to describe cities who welcome refugees and immigrants and refuse to completely comply with federal immigration laws. While some have referred to the practice as “jihad against immigration enforcement,” others applaud the movement as a way to serve as “a conscientious…  [more]

Rod Dreher on Cultural Engagement and The Benedict Option

“There are people alive today who may live to see the effective death of Christianity within our civilization.” So suggests Rod Dreher in his new book The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. Dreher claims that the West has come to reject the principal tenets of Christianity. In fact, he says, not only has society at large bought into nominalism, come to value…  [more]

Mark Charles on Race, Trauma, and the Doctrine of Discovery

One of the more challenging presentations at Calvin College's recent January Series came from Mark Charles, who opened his talk by warning the audience that they may want to throw something at him before he was done. Charles revisited the Doctrine of Discovery—a 15th-century papal edict that declared any land not inhabited by Christians could be claimed by European explorers—and traced the traumatic…  [more]

Duty and Desire in The Crown

There is a complexity of ideas at play beneath the authentic scenery and elegant costumes of the new Netflix series The Crown. This tactful English drama set in post-war Britain centers on the rise and reign of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy). The camerawork and creative writing take us into the hidden realities of relationships between monarchy and family, monarchy and parliament, and monarchy and church. At the…  [more]

Why Christians Should Stand with the Standing Rock Sioux

It is critical we take a moment and pay close attention to what is unfolding among the Standing Rock Sioux, the United States federal government, and proponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline. If we do, we may begin to understand the debt of love (in the form of social and environmental justice) that U.S. citizens—and Christians in particular—owe to Native Americans. On Monday, the U.S. Departments of the…  [more]

Seeking Justice in Light of Ava DuVernay’s 13th

Most of us know that slavery was abolished in 1865 by the 13th Amendment. What we might not know is that there’s an exception clause explicitly permitting slavery “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” That troubling phrase lies at the heart of 13th, a new documentary directed by Ava DuVernay that explores how a loophole in what should have been the instrument…  [more]

The Birth of a Nation, in Exodus and 1831 Virginia

Two things made me very uncomfortable recently: revisiting the death of Egypt’s firstborn in Exodus, as part of our Scripture reading in church, and watching The Birth of a Nation, a dramatization of Nat Turner’s 1831 slave rebellion, which also involved rampant death and was largely motivated by Turner’s understanding of Scripture. These instances made me uncomfortable partly because they have a…  [more]

The Naked and the Nude

The recent skirmish over Facebook’s removal of a harrowing image—the Pulitzer Prize-winning, 1972 photograph of a young, naked Vietnamese girl running from a napalm explosion—certainly raises questions of censorship. Yet it also strikes me as a symptom of our porn problem. According to Fortune, Facebook removed the photograph after a Norwegian newspaper editor posted it as part of a series of…  [more]

Obama’s Pardons

President Barack Obama now holds the record for the single most generous grant of executive clemency in United States history. On Aug. 3, he bested Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1935 record by commuting the sentences of 214 federal prisoners, mostly nonviolent drug offenders who received unduly harsh sentences as a result of outdated “mandatory minimum” standards. That brings his career total to…  [more]

White parents and Black Lives Matter

A couple months ago, a Black Lives Matter sign appeared in a neighbor’s yard. As we went for a walk, my 7-year-old asked, “Dad, what does that mean?” For white parents like me, this should not take a long time to explain — but not because I would give a dismissive, racist or simplistic response. On the contrary, I would argue that as a parent and as a Christian, it’s my job to make sure…  [more]

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