Category: Philosophy

How Christian Intellectuals Can Get Their Groove Back

Alan Jacobs’ recent essay in Harper’s poses the intriguing question: what became of the Christian intellectuals? By this term Jacobs means not merely Christians who are intellectuals, but Christians who function as interpreters and go-betweens of the cultural gaps between the Christian community and the cultural intelligentsia of secularized America. In Jacobs’ view, these public intellectuals have…  [more]

Do Christians overvalue empathy?

I’ve been wondering about the way we talk about empathy lately. One reason is the continual news reports about terrorism, some of which evoke a stronger emotional reaction in me than others. Consider the attacks in Brussels, Belgium, and the (arguably) more unthinkable Easter attack in Lahore, Pakistan. Both of these incidents hit home for me, since both killed and injured people doing things I might do:…  [more]

Remembering Umberto Eco

For those familiar with the work of Umberto Eco, news of his death on Feb. 19 betokened the passing of a literary era. One of Europe’s foremost public intellectuals and a “grand old man” of post-war Italian humanism, Eco was one of the last surviving members of the mid-century generation of writers that reshaped the Western literary and philosophical landscape. A peer of Jacques Derrida and Roland…  [more]

Watch Marsden, Mouw, Plantinga and Wolterstorff at Calvin College’s January Series

We’ve been following Calvin College’s January Series of lectures on faith and culture, and are pleased to bring you video of one of the more engaging talks thus far. “The Renaissance of Christian Thought” reunited four luminaries from Calvin’s past - George Marsden, Richard Mouw, Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff - for a wide-ranging consideration of the state of Christian…  [more]

Miranda Sings and the many faces of narcissism

YouTuber Colleen Ballinger’s malaprop-mad persona, Miranda Sings, has a lot of “suscribers” pretty “essited” by her cat sweaters, garish lips and blaring songs. As Miranda, Ballinger burpily parodies everybody from illiterate online commenters to basic girls to inspirational speakers to do-it-yourselfers to inept webcammers. Next month, Miranda will be sharing her wisdom in a book…  [more]

Ex Machina and what it (might) mean to be human

What makes us human? And how is that related to the way we’re made in God’s image? These are perennial questions that tantalizingly linger along the edges of the new science-fiction thriller Ex Machina, my favorite film of the year thus far. Written and directed by Alex Garland, who brings a cool mercilessness to the proceedings, Ex Machina imagines the birth of artificial intelligence in the form of a…  [more]

Should we be “redesigning” death?

“With just a little attention … he might be able to refract some of the horror and hopelessness of death into more transcendent feelings of awe and wonder and beauty.” These words, taken from the California Sunday Magazine article “Death, Redesigned,” speak to a new understand of mortality in our culture. It doesn’t take much experience with death to understand how daunting the…  [more]

The Christian undergirding of David Brooks’ moral bucket list

I am seriously considering taking David Brooks’ recent New York Times essay, “The Moral Bucket List,” adding a dozen Bible references, tacking on an “Amen” and preaching it this Sunday. The piece begins with these words: “About once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. …They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued.…  [more]

Brittany Maynard and 9/11 jumpers: an analogy that doesn’t work

Much has been written about Brittany Maynard’s Nov. 1 decision to end her own life rather than face an ongoing battle with terminal cancer. Yesterday, Benjamin Corey penned a striking piece at Patheos that compared Maynard with those who chose to jump out of the World Trade Center towers during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The piece is powerful and the analogy is provocative, yet I think Corey is wrong. Thomas…  [more]

Christian philosophy in 2014

A recent gathering of the Society of Christian Philosophers was both a look back and a look forward. Alvin Plantinga was on hand to revisit his 1984 essay, “Advice to Christian Philosophers,” while other presenters debated how that advice should be understood today. What is Christian philosophy, and what are its challenges in 2014? Thirty years ago, Plantinga stoked the imagination of Christian…  [more]

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