Posts in Culture
Mary Oliver: A Rain, Rising

This week, we mourn the loss of another dear friend, Mary Oliver—she was 83. Her short volumes overwhelm my writing desk in my home’s library, although thousands of other volumes form a canopy all around me. They are short but today they are heavy. Like Oliver’s poems exemplify and Dr. Schramm’s extended stare out his window displays, however, this is only my library—my true “study is out of doors.”

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Bruce and the Art of Rock ’n’ Roll Storytelling

Above all, Bruce’s music reminds us what great rock ’n’ roll is and has always been about: the human condition. It’s an art of American storytelling, and nobody has done it better or longer than Bruce. The Broadway album slips seamlessly between song and speech, poetry and prose, narration and prayer. It’s passionate, vulgar, reverent, tearful, kind, angry, humble, proud, and funny. It is profoundly human, a feature that distinguishes great music from the profanely human music of lesser artists.

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Forgive, But Don’t Forget

Szekely admitting to his gross behavior and withdrawing for self-reflection is a far bigger gesture of repentance than many of his celebrity colleagues have made. It raises the question: if a public figure genuinely demonstrates regret for causing others pain (rather than merely being sorry for having been caught), should we as a society show some sort of mercy and accept their apology?

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Does Liberalism Strangle the Virtue it Requires?

Yet democratic liberalism, for all its prosperous fruits, is beginning to show underlying pathologies that cannot be fixed using its own premises. To suggest we return to the earlier liberalism of the Founders, wherein the cultivation of virtue was left to private institutions widely considered necessary, suggests the presence of a self-correcting mechanism in liberalism that has not been found, or at least has not developed a lasting consensus.

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Life Without Love Is Blind: The Philosophy of Bird Box

The recent Netflix phenomenon, Bird Box, presents two radically different understandings of life. Malorie, the main character, values survival above all else. This seems like a prudent philosophy to adopt in an apocalyptic world, but Malorie takes it to an inhuman extreme. Malorie's philosophical counterweight is represented by the character Tom. The movie subtly reveals the differences between the two characters as the plot unfolds and Malorie slowly realizes that she must embrace Tom’s philosophy of life as more than survival in order to live life well.

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Private Virtue, Our Only Hope

Although our country was founded upon this energetic contest, our Founders also stressed the importance of personal and civic virtue. Benjamin Franklin argued that “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” Franklin argued that political corruption follows a lack of virtue, not of ambition.

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Why Humans Love Fire

Our redemption of fire imitates God’s redemptive work. Although all Creation is inherently good, some parts have been so twisted by the Enemy’s malice and our sin that they seem to lose much of this goodness. By using this element of Creation to bring about good things in spite of its fallen nature, we imitate our Father, who is always working to bring good out of evil. Something as simple as a campfire can and should remind us of our role in redeeming our fallen world.

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The New Kings of Rock?

Rock ’n’ roll has always been about standing up for ideas that challenge norms, inherently making it a counter-cultural and rebellious genre. Hippie moralism, however, is no longer counter-cultural, and it hardly fulfills the rock potential previously glimpsed in Greta van Fleet.

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Shame on You, Julie Kelly

The French family has been treated horribly by the far-right due to their public stances against Trump. There are plenty of solid arguments to be made against the Never Trump movement and Nancy French’s skepticism regarding Brett Kavanaugh, but the character assassination offered by Julie Kelly amounts to nothing more than a politically motivated hit.

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The Case for Santa Claus

Adults, too, need Santa Claus—to remind them to love charitably, selflessly, and wholly. When they see their children’s letters to Santa asking for him to help the homeless, then parents should take the opportunity to serve the community as a family. Spend a day helping at a Feed the Needy; coordinate a blanket drive for the homeless; donate old toys to the underprivileged. Conversely, if a child’s “letter to Santa” is a toy catalog with everything in it circled, then parents should consider reassessing the values they are teaching in the home.

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Good and Mad, or Incoherent and Willfully Blind: The Deep Thoughts of Ms. Rebecca Traister

 Standing as a refutation to Ms. Traister is the paradox of female happiness: as women do better they are more unhappy and likely to be medicated.  More equality promises to deliver happiness for feminists, but it never does.  Expecting to achieve happiness through securing equality is like trying to achieve youth by resetting one’s clock: no amount of equality yields contentment.  Ms. Traister’s radical feminism, with its sterile understanding of what women should want, may do much to empower women, but it does not a little in making women angry about the human situation itself. 

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"Studies Have Shown": Finding Frauds in the Age of Misinformation

The reality is that science, despite romantic notions of scientists and the infallible objectivity of the scientific method, is an industry. Academic promotion, notoriety, and profit all stand to be gained from research publication. Politicians, academics, environmentalists, manufacturers, and medical companies all have a serious vested interest in the outcome of scientific research, blurring many ethical lines. This year, in fact, a team of academics deliberately published seven fabricated research articles in respected journals to demonstrate the prevalence of political activism within the field.

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Chomsky’s Civility

Civility in public life is a necessity for America. The brief euphoria of anger experienced in a shouting match is a selfish affair. It serves nothing but the most banal and tribal of our instincts, and harms the country deeply. While Buckley and Chomsky could not have been further apart, in a time marred by war, their willingness to calmly dialogue moved the national debate.

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