Recently I spent a week at a monastery. I didn’t interact a lot with the monks—it’s a cloistered community, and its members don’t often come to the guesthouse area where I stayed. I saw them at church seven times a day; otherwise I was mostly alone, either walking the grounds or in my room reading or praying.
A pet topic of mine is the tendency of some Christians to fixate on belief and its boundaries. You can't just state why you think belief in x, y, and z is important to Christian faith and life; you have to claim that those who believe x and y but not so much z are not real Christians. You can't just disagree with someone with a different view from yours; you have to stage an inquisition.
It frustrates me to see this all-belief-all-the-time orientation used to frame things as us real Christians vs. them fake ones. When people take a similar approach in drawing themselves outside the circle, it just makes me sad.
Debates about tax cuts often play out in pretty fuzzy terms. How do you feel about the role of government? What size tax burden feels fair to you? Which party is in power, and how trustworthy do its leaders look on television?
In the wake of the shootings in Las Vegas—in which bystander Joseph Robert Wilcox tried to take a shooter out and instead was himself shot and killed—Adam Weinstein offers a very thoughtful take on the notion of being a "good guy with a gun." A veteran and a gun owner, Weinstein describes himself as "one of those wannabe heroes"—but also details his growing doubts.
If you haven't read Ta-Nehisi Coates's cover story in the current Atlantic, do. Coates surveys the history of white supremacy in America, with a particular focus on housing policy in one Chicago neighborhood, and calls us to do what we've never really done: seriously consider what it might take to make it right.
The headline is "The Case for Reparations," but Coates doesn't name a dollar amount or even argue that payment is the main goal.
Instapundit’s op-ed on the problems at Veterans Affairs hospitals reads like a plug-and-play template for libertarian commentary: “The cleanup will be, basically, impossible. That’s because the VA is government health care.” He goes on to argue that the unacceptably long wait times, deceptive record keeping, and undeserved executive bonuses at VA facilities are due to a lack of free-market competition: there’s no bottom-line issue, so managers mismanage with impunity.
This would be a more compelling argument if the free-market alternative—the real-world one, not the theoretical one used so often to bash (real-world) government work—actually performed consistently better, and actually had a better system for accountability.
I know a guy, a committed church member, who missed his own grandchild's baptism. It was far away, on a Sunday that was a busy one for his own church. So he felt compelled to skip the trip and go to church.
This impressed me. It's hard to imagine such a thing at the church where I work.
Vincent Harding died yesterday. If all the civil rights leader had done was draft King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech, that would have been quite a contribution. ("I watched this [antipoverty] program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war.") But in the 60s Harding founded Atlanta's Mennonite House (with his wife Rosemarie Freeney Harding), traveled around the South with the movement, and got his doctorate in history (here in Chicago, with Century contributing editor Martin Marty). Since then he led a career of teaching (mostly at Iliff), writing, and activism.
When Nadia and I got married, we really went all out on the worship planning. She spread out multiple worship books, adapting her favorite parts and writing collects and petitions from scratch. I recruited not one or two but ten friends to lead the music and then got to work writing original service music, reharmonizing hymns, and notating all of it to match in the bulletin.
Obamacare is the Obama administration's singular legislative achievement, a major win squeezed out of a tough fight with an opposition Congress. Years later, the fight continues. The president's political opponents disparage the health-insurance reform law; his allies defend it.