“We come to understand that the story is not an illustration of moral “ought-to” but rather a depiction of the power of, to borrow a phrase that NT Wright uses extensively in his work, genuine humanness. The Samaritan, most likely to be viewed by first century Jews as sub-human, illustrates genuine humanness in allowing himself to be moved by splagchnizomai, and in offering his help affirms the genuine humanness of the beaten man. It is their piety, ironically, that prevents the priest and Levite from realizing this truth.”Read more "The Parable of the Healthy Splagchnon"
“It takes courage to look on the waste of broad, muddy fields brown with dried weeds and see spring on the horizon, but when that day comes you look down and are surprised to see that you have burst into bloom.”Read more "This Funny Little Book Has Raised My Hopes For Spring"
“What I’m getting is that as Christians, heresy is in our blood. It’s an integral part of our genealogy. You don’t have to like it, you don’t even have to reconcile with it, but like Tamar’s place in the genealogy of Jesus you can’t do anything about it. Despising it or denouncing it does not render it invisible. It is nothing if not a reminder that when it comes to “correct belief” we could at any moment be completely wrong — which is the source of real humility.”Read more "The Gift of Heresy"
The story we hear in church so often is that Christianity is being assailed on all sides by the demoralizing principalities and powers of promiscuity in secular culture, and yet by these measures it seems that Christians are having more trouble with sexual purity than anyone else. Put another way, Christian moral alarmists are right to say there’s an epidemic of sexual demoralization happening right now in America, but perhaps the only reason it feels so imminent is because the worst of it is happening right under their noses in their own Christian circles. Could the purity movement actually be backfiring?Read more "The Purity Movement Isn’t Just Failing, It’s Backfiring"
The super-famous do not rise to power on waves of total support or total disgust. Like a metal ball caught between two mutually repelling magnets, they are instead rocketed to power by the polarization between total support and total disgust. The best thing that can happen to you as a person looking to become super-famous is to polarize everyone… your path to fame will literally pave itself. When this happens you no longer have “a demographic,” your demographic is everyone. This is what I call, with a bitter sense of irony, the Kardashian effect.Read more "Hacking the Kardashian Effect"
“The imagery is of sheep in a sheep-pen, held in by a blockade made of stones. A breach-maker comes who knocks down the stones and creates an opening for the sheep to exit: the sheep burst forth with such force that they knock down more stones and widen the breach.”Read more "How to Think about Violence"
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the recent executive order on immigration and the ban that it entailed, interpreting it through the work of anthropologist Mary Douglas in her 1966 book Purity and Danger. In the post, I argued that our anxieties about borders and immigration, and about the social body at large, reflect […]Read more "Dirt and Disorder in the American Body"