28 April 2020

Earlier in the month, I was interviewed by Dr. Bruce Ashford, provost at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, on the subjects of socialism and Marxism. The interview has now been posted and can be seen immediately below:

More such videos are forthcoming, as part of the series, "The Public Square and Everything In It."

27 April 2020

Clash of Idols

Today Mere Orthodoxy published this brief essay of mine: Clash of Idols.

An excerpt:

Some people believe that idolatry affects us only in those matters concerning liturgy, prayer, sacraments, and preaching. But idols refuse to remain within the walls of a formal worship space. After all, worship can be said to describe the way we live our entire lives seven days a week, as individuals and as communities. If we are obsessed with making as much money as we can, subordinating every other consideration to that goal, we effectively serve an idol of our own making. This idol is a jealous god, refusing to share space with other ordinary activities, such as raising children, being faithful to our spouses, nurturing friendships, and helping the poor. We need not literally burn incense, sing praises and offer prayers to this god, but because it so dominates our lives, we in effect worship it.
As we look more closely at public life in North America, we can see at least three principal ideological groupings battling for political power. Each of these in its own way is intermeshed with the idols that shape—and distort—our efforts at securing just governance. These idols are nation, market, and the expansive self. Of course, there is nothing intrinsically evil about nation, market, and personal freedom. Each of these has developed over time and come into its own, enriching our lives as those created in God’s image. Yet each of these goods, separated from God and from the larger normative framework of his creation, becomes an idol that enslaves.
Read more.

23 April 2020

Government vs. virus

Over the past two centuries, the pace at which we have succeeded in taming our environment has accelerated, tempting us to assume that we are in nearly absolute control over our own lives and futures. Although my grandparents lived through the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, many millions did not. The last flu pandemic took place when I was 13, killing one million people worldwide and 100,000 in the United States. As a boy I was afflicted, like virtually all of my peers, with the “normal” childhood diseases such as measles, rubella and the mumps. But we were inoculated against more serious maladies such as smallpox, diphtheria and polio. As an increasing number of diseases have been conquered by medical researchers, we were lulled into thinking that good health is a right to which we are entitled.

Now, quite unexpectedly, we are faced with another pandemic, the COVID-19 coronavirus. And we are freshly reminded that we are not in control; we are still subject to the vicissitudes of life beyond our powers.

22 April 2020

Online church shopping

During the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, our church has of necessity made the move to an online presence. We have had a YouTube channel for a few years now, so the technical infrastructure was already in place to permit this. For the past several weeks, we have worshipped from home, tuning in from our televisions while seated on our living room sofas, whose cushions are more comfortable than the 112-year-old wooden pews in our sanctuary. We even celebrated the Lord’s Supper on Palm Sunday, each of us providing bread and wine and having it consecrated from 2 kilometres away by our minister. It’s not the same, of course, but it will have to do for now. We can be thankful to God that our technical means have come so far that we can worship in this way, which we would not have been able to do even twenty years ago.


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