How Could Tyranny Destroy Our Democracy?

Political scientists and historians are increasingly expressing profound concerns about the future of democracy in the West. I have been asking, as an amateur historian of America, “How and why do democracies die?” The study of democratic backsliding, though around for a long time, is becoming more urgent as we watch events unfold so rapidly it creates deep concern in … Read More

The Pope’s Controversial Encyclical

Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home, the much-discussed encyclical of Pope Francis on human care for the creation, embraces what the pope calls a “very solid scientific consensus” that humans are causing cataclysmic climate change that has been endangering the planet for decades. This conclusion has caused some conservatives, especially talk-show hosts and their followers, to trash the … Read More

What Conservatives Do with Government

Liberals and conservatives are waging, it seems to me to the bitter end, a constant debate about the role of government. Conservatives generally do not trust government and want to see it decreased. Such conservatives often call the other side a bunch of socialists while Liberals say the conservatives are heartless and greedy business owners. “Conservatives do not care about the … Read More

Nature’s God: The Origins of the American Republic and Why It Matters (Part One)

The American patriots who were directly responsible for the founding of our nation were considered, by almost all orthodox Christian ministers at the time, to be “radicals” and “atheists.” So goes the essential claim of philosopher/author Matthew Stewart in his exciting new book, Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic (W.W. Norton, New York, 2014). His claim is, at … Read More

Chicago Gets a New Archbishop: Does the Media Understand the Church?

I have come to the conclusion that the media rarely gets the “tone” right when it comes to reporting on religion. This is true in reporting on all religion but in particular it is true with regard to Christianity in particular. I have some ideas about why this is so. But none of them involve conspiracies or the demonic. On … Read More

Rev. Ian Paisley: RIP

I was reading the “Notable Deaths” page in my Sunday newspaper (September 14) and came across the news of the passing of the famous Irish Presbyterian minister, Ian Paisley. The AP report said: “Paisley [was] the Protestant firebrand who devoted his life to thwarting compromise with Catholics in Northern Ireland only to become a pivotal peacemaker in his twilight years.” … Read More

Visions of Vocation

Author Steven Garber wrote one of those rare modern books that I have read twice. Some years ago I developed an answer that I cleverly gave to folks who, upon seeing my immense library (before I sold nearly 15,000 books over the last few years), would gasp at my floor-to-ceiling library shelves and ask me, “Have you read all of … Read More

Dialogue vs. Dogma?

The word dialogue is very important to me, and my view of truth, at least in terms of the way Christians live with one another, and with non-Christians, in the modern age. What do I mean by dialogue? Could it be that the very idea behind this word is deeply flawed, as some cultural and religious conservatives maintain? Back in … Read More

The Emotive Cry for Community

Michael Novak, in his stirring memoir of a journey from left to right, devotes an entire chapter to community, as I noted yesterday. He writes: “One of life’s most time-consuming tasks is to achieve disagreement with an ideological opposite. Without blinking, you might object; ‘It’s not had to disagree. Heck! Most people do it all the time” (282). But aren’t … Read More