Category Archives: Philosophy

Jesus Knows a Secret

Fifteen years ago Mike Turner was hiking in the Wyoming wilderness. He came across a field of boulders next to a lake. He was jumping from boulder to boulder when one moved. His feet slipped and he began to slide … Continue reading

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Religion Is Not Simple

To some people, religion is like an answer to a math problem. There is one right answer among many wrong answers, but some wrong answers are closer to the right one. For other people, religion is more like a language. … Continue reading

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Dallas Willard Liked Peanut Butter and Jelly

Dallas Willard liked peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I had an apple left over from my lunch and I grabbed it and walked to Dallas’ office while I sifted through the thoughts I wanted to communicate. He was in his … Continue reading

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Know the Truth

Introduction to Phemomenology By Robert Sokolowski It was a pleasure to read this beautiful book. Sokolowski explains phenomenology in a clear manner I could follow. His ability to present complex ideas clearly is a gift. Phenomenology, which he admits is … Continue reading

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Forgiving the Unforgivable

From Peter Blum’s For a Church to Come: Experiments in Postmodern Theory and Anabaptist Thought: The crux of [Derrida's] argument is that forgiveness only makes sense if it is forgiveness of the unforgivable. ‘If one is only prepared to forgive … Continue reading

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The Reality of Marriage

We ate at Rumors in Hudson last night and celebrated the publication of our friend Pete Blum’s book, For a Church to Come: Experiments in Postmodern Theory and Anabaptist Thought. Pete teaches sociology at Hillsdale College. In the book’s second … Continue reading

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The Most Important Question

I went to a presbytery committee meeting today in Bowling Green, Ohio. We oversee people on the way to being ordained as pastors or chaplains. It is a complicated process, to say the least. We had Skype interviews with two … Continue reading

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A Christian View of the Soul

Carol Zaleski on a Christian view of the soul: But perhaps you’ve heard it said that it is improper for Christians to speak of the soul’s immortality at all. In that case, a distinguo is in order. On the one … Continue reading

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Five Reasons Not to Vote

In what is becoming a ritual for me, before a national election I pull Electing Not to Vote from the shelf and read one of the essays. This year the essay is by John Roth, a Mennonite history professor, who … Continue reading

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John T. McNeill on the Human Soul

There was a graveside service today for a longtime member of the church. Oakwood Cemetery is the loveliest around. Later I was reflecting on John McNeil’s description of the human soul: “The soul is the essence of human personality. It … Continue reading

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Mystery All the Way Down

An article on medical research, noting how knowing more information does not necessarily lead to cures for illness.  The body is simply too complex a system to predict what will happen with a certain drug or treatment is tried.  The … Continue reading

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Churchill and Aristotle

Churchill and Aristotle: Some time in the 1920s, the Conservative statesman F. E. Smith — Lord Birkenhead — gave a copy of the “Nicomachean Ethics” to his close friend Winston Churchill. He did so saying there were those who thought … Continue reading

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A Little Less Mediocre

The Adrian High School Baccalaureate was Thursday night in our sanctuary.  I sat in the balcony and ran sound, plus a video and Powerpoint for the speaker, Joe Williams, president of United Bank and Trust.  His daughter graduates this year.  … Continue reading

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Communism: A History

Communism: A History, by Richard Pipes (Modern Library 2003). Harvard scholar Richard Pipes looks at communism from its origins with 19th century European intellectuals through the 20th century horrors of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.  These ‘experiments in utopia’ … Continue reading

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Philosophy for Understanding Theology

Philosophy for Understanding Theology, by Diogenes Allen and Eric O. Springsted (Westminster John Knox Press, 2007). There are many things in this book that I did not get, but the little I did grasp profited me.  This is a survey … Continue reading

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Religious Literacy

Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know–And Doesn’t, by Stephen Prothero (HarperOne, 2008). Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University, surveys the decline in religious literacy through four centuries of American life.  The Puritans knew their Bibles … Continue reading

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A President’s Philosophy

Harvard historian James Kloppenberg has been studying President Obama’s philosophy: To Mr. Kloppenberg the philosophy that has guided President Obama most consistently is pragmatism, a uniquely American system of thought developed at the end of the 19th century by William … Continue reading

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Ideology and the News

A snippet of National Public Radio’s defense in the Juan Williams matter caught my attention last week: Writes NPR ombudsman Shephard: “This latest incident with Williams centers around a collision of values: NPR’s values emphasizing fact-based, objective journalism versus the … Continue reading

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True Believers

In a post on Rand Paul, Ann Althouse remembered a time when she was attacked by libertarians for questioning their assumptions.  I am struck by how deeply and seriously libertarians and conservatives believe in their ideas. I’m used to the … Continue reading

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Bottom-Up Thinking

John Polkinghorne on bottom-up thinking: I call myself a bottom-up thinker. I try to move from experience to understanding, to look at experiences, which may be our own experiences or accounts of others; in fact, in the religious case, they … Continue reading

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