The long-gestating epistemological crisis in the west is escalating rapidly. Who or what can be trusted? Is objectivity possible? Are there authorities uncorrupted by power? Sources of truth untainted by the stains of bias and ideology?
We live in a time in America when everything is politicized. Everything is viewed through an us vs. them lens of political partisanship. And it is tragic and toxic. Why is it such a politically partisan thing to state that one is "pro life," for example? Step back from the years of abortion debates along partisan lines and ask yourself that question. You'd think that people from all political parties, all backgrounds and walks of life could unite around the conviction that all human lives, from embryos to the elderly, are imbued with a God-given dignity that must be protected. You'd think we could unite around protecting precious lives against abortion, torture, sexual violence, war crimes, police brutality, gun violence and the like. All because we believe in the sanctity of life. But alas.
I woke up on the first day of 2017 in Rome, the "Eternal City," feeling the weight of a world where even the most enduring things are laughably far from "eternal." I was in Rome on a trip with Kira and six young adults from our church. It was a trip we designed around early church history. For six days we led our group to the many sacred Christian sites of Rome: the prison where Peter and Paul were held captive; the churches where Peter and Paul are buried; the early Christian catacombs; the Vatican; churches from the 4th century; churches on top of older churches on top pagan temples.
I believe in journalism. I'm thankful for its truth-telling, spot-lighting potential (see last year's Oscar-winning film Spotlight, for example). But I sometimes fear for its future. As the media landscape continues to morph, what role can real journalism play? Donald Trump becoming president is certainly huge "news," but it's a headline that signals something foreboding rather than electrifying about the state of the news industry. Here's my attempt to make sense of how we got here. 1960s:
We're now less than a month away from the 2016 U.S. election on November 8. While the presidential race continues its dumpster fire downward spiral and very few people are excited at the prospect of either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump occupying the White House, the fact is the election is still happening and it will decide a lot more things than just the presidency. When it comes to our options for president, I'm with Russell Moore when he says: "I’m pro-life, pro-family, pro-racial reconciliation, pro-immigrant and pro-character in office, so no matter what happens in November, I lose."
This week Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted a photo of an ad that compared the “Syrian Refugee Problem” to a bowl of Skittles. The ad suggested that we can best understand the worst humanitarian crisis of our time by thinking about refugees not as embodied, suffering people but as poisonous rainbow-colored candy that could kill us. Let’s set aside for a minute the politics of this and the admitted complexity of immigration and national security.
You can't watch Sully without thinking about Sept. 11. Not just because Clint Eastwood's film was released the weekend of the 15th anniversary of 9/11/01, and not just because it's a film about a plane crash in New York City (including dream sequences of planes crashing into skyscrapers). Sully brings to mind 9/11 mostly in its somberly humane celebration of people united by survival and heroism in the midst of trauma.
Richard Tanne's Southside With You, a compelling cinematic depiction of the first date of Barack and Michelle Obama (played brilliantly by Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter), is on one hand a smart romance in the vein of Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise trilogy or James Ponsoldt's The Spectacular Now. It's a quiet, simple love story that captures the innocence, awkwardness and impermanence of the early days of relationships. Southside is a snapshot of a couple of lawyers in 1989 Chicago who two decades later would be ruling the free world in the White House. That's the obvious hindsight angle that makes the film interesting as narration of a particular m
Most people would probably agree that this presidential election has been the worst ever, a dumpster fire Jerry Springer episode with flourishes of End Times apocalyptica. It’s an election in which 13% of Americans have said they’d rather a meteor hit Earth than live to see either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton elected president. It’s been an exhausting and depressing season, one in which fear and anger are palpable, where suggestions of assassination and actual assassination attempts have both happened this summer, and the nation seems to be teetering on the edge of riots and anarchy
A pernicious bill (SB 1146) now moving through the California legislature would force Christian colleges and universities into submission when it comes to their beliefs and policies regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. What Sacramento says is true about SOGI is now what every knowledge institution in California must acknowledge in practice (if not in belief) to be true. So much for valuing diversity.
Christians: Being like Christ does not mean looking out for your self-interest and safety and comfort and rights above all else. Being like Christ means thinking of others before you think of yourself; prioritizing the safety of others above your safety; willingly ceding your power and privilege and guns and freedom out of love for the powerless, the underprivileged, the weak and the vulnerable.
One of the funniest lines in "Love & Friendship," Whit Stillman’s hilarious and endearing new film adaptation of Jane Austen's "Lady Susan," find the conniving Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsdale) lamenting that “facts are horrid things.” It’s a philosophy perfectly at home in 2016, a year in which more than one commentator has declared our world to be “post-truth,” courtesy of the impervious-to-facts success of Donald Trump’s campaign.
I think it’s time America gets serious about moving beyond a rigid two party system. If the 2016 election has confirmed anything, it is that the recent incompetence and unpopularity of the two existing parties is reaching a crisis point. The crazy fringes are now taking over the mainstream parties, and so it’s time we start thinking of third parties not as extremist dreams but as realistic options for the sane, moderate and balanced Americans who are being left behind.
It’s been a while since I’ve been enthusiastic about voting for anyone in a presidential election. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever voted for a presidential candidate with enthusiasm. It’s usually a “lesser of two evils” sort of thing. But this year I had hoped to vote for Marco Rubio, a candidate I have been hoping for years would run for president.
Like everyone else, I’ve been trying to make sense of the rise of Donald Trump as a likely Republican nominee for U.S. president. How could this happen? What kind of America looks at a man as “openly debased and debauched” as Trump and sees a man they would like to have in the most powerful office in the world? I think it has something to do with the Oscars and O.J. Simpson.
The only real way to make sense of 2016 America, in particular the unfolding presidential election, is to see it in the way Donald Trump does: as a game. Donald Trump’s stump speeches mostly consist of talking about winning, calling others losers, and insisting that he will help America win again. This involves beating China, Japan and Mexico (and everyone else) at trade, as he said in his New Hampshire victory speech. It also involves building a wall along the Mexican border and forbidding the entry of Muslims, presumably to keep foreigners from undermining America’s winning.
Every group, every movement, every family, every coalition or club or team of any kind requires some level of agreement/consensus in order to be meaningfully distinct in identity and remotely efficacious in purpose. And every one of these groups knows how elusive but essential consensus can be. But consensus seems to be more elusive than ever, at every stratum of society.
A year from now we will (very possibly) have a new president-elect in the U.S. As a registered voter in California, I will have zero influence in deciding the election. But that doesn't keep me from having opinions about what kind of candidate I'd like to see succeed in becoming America's 45th president. The following is a list of attributes that would define my "dream president."
I don’t know what it’s like to be a refugee. I’ve never had to flee my homeland out of fear for my life because bombs or beheadings were a very real threat. I’ve never had to resettle in a foreign land and struggle to assimilate to an alien or hostile culture. I also don’t know what it’s like to lose a loved one to an act of terrorism, blown up in a plane or riddled with bullets in a concert venue.
I wrote an article recently for Biola Magazine, the official publication of Biola University, about the challenges Christian universities are facing on "religious freedom" issues related to changing cultural norms--particularly around gender and sexual orientation--and their accompanying legal protections. What happens when an individual (student, staff or faculty member) decides they want to join a community like Biola but live in a manner that is inconsistent with the institution's convictions?