David Zahl is the director of Mockingbird Ministries and editor-in-chief of the Mockingbird blog. He and his wife Cate reside in Charlottesville, VA, with their two sons, where David also serves on the staff of Christ Episcopal Church.
To make sure that (amazing) Gold Connections song gets turned into an album, click here.
However much attention it once received, “Pascal’s Wager” doesn’t seem to get much traction in today’s God debate/discourse. I’m referring to the idea put forth by the 18th century Jansenist sage Blaise Pascal that belief in God is a good “bet”–there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain from taking the leap of faith. In other words, the real question is not why a person should believe in God so much as why not. I can only presume the argument was more captivating in a pre-digital age than it is now.
If I were to theorize about the reasons for the…
Incredible excerpt from an unlikely source, brought to our attention via the most recent episode of PZ’s Podcast. Lots of implications to the “where people actually live” question. Take it away, Ms. Gilbert:
I remember a story my friend Deborah the psychologist told me once. Back in the 1980s, she was asked by the city of Philadelphia if she could volunteer to offer psychological counseling to a group of Cambodian refugees—boat people—who had recently arrived in the city. Deborah is an exceptional psychologist, but she was terribly daunted by this task. These Cambodians suffered the worst of what humans can inflict…
Another Week Ends: Polly’s Breakthroughs, Bad Food, Closed Doors, more Dismaland, Ryan’s 1989, Mr. Robot, and Muppets
1. It’s been a while since we checked in with Heather Havrilesky and her exceedingly awesome “Ask Polly” column over at New York magazine. Bear in mind that it’s an advice column, so it’s filled with all sorts of impossible prescriptions, but she writes it in such a breathless, discursive manner that the format manages to be subverted, somewhat. The net effect is that of a torrential downpour of compassion, wit and wisdom. Given the demographic of that magazine, perhaps it’s no surprise that one of the principal themes, both of the letters and her responses, is the relationship between expectation and…
A fragment from his “Treatise on Theology”:
Religion comes from our pity for humans
They are too weak to live without divine protection.
Too weak to listen to the screeching noise of the turning of infernal wheels.
Who among us would accept a universe in which there was not one voice
Of compassion, pity, understanding?
To be human is to be completely alien amid the galaxies.
Which is sufficient reason for erecting, together with others, the temples of an unimaginable mercy.
Talk about a gift that keeps on giving! And this particular gift couldn’t be more timely, given Jeff’s post on The Century of the Self yesterday. Some of you may want to fast forward to the 3 minute mark.
This cracked me up, though who knows if it’s the equivalent of 16th century hearsay/urban legend. It’s a story that Martin Luther tells (Luthers Schriften, herausg. von Walch. XV, 446) about Johann Tetzel, the Dominican friar who served as the Grand Commissioner of Indulgences at the turn of the 16th Century in Germany, the man most often cast as the villain in the Luther story:
After [Johann] Tetzel had received a substantial amount of money at Leipzig, a nobleman asked him if it were possible to receive a letter of indulgence for a future sin. Tetzel quickly answered in the affirmative, insisting, however, that the payment had to made at once. This the nobleman did, receiving thereupon letter and seal from Tetzel. When Tetzel left Leipzig the nobleman attacked him along the way, gave him a thorough beating, and sent him back empty-handed to Leipzig with the comment that this was the future sin which he had in mind. Duke George at first was quite furious about this incident, but when he heard the whole story he let it go without punishing the nobleman.
Holy guacamole! It’s a powerful and disarming thing to see the law of perfection fulfilled before one’s eyes, as all of us who tuned into American Ninja Warrior the other day did. No one in six seasons had completed the full (insane!) obstacle course and won the competition… until now. The fact that the winner, Isaac Caldiero, not only works as a carpenter busboy but comes out wearing a Jesus costume, well, I don’t think that was an accident. Neither was it an accident that the following excerpts from Thomas Merton’s essay, “The Climate of Mercy – For Albert Schweitzer”,…
Here’s another memorable, close-to-the-bone passage from Ted Peters’ excellent Sin Boldly!: Justifying Faith for Fragile and Broken Souls, this time on the human propensity for making grace into law.
The Reformation victory took place in the sixteenth century. Five centuries later, how should we assess what is going on today? Beneath the ideology of works righteousness, or legalism, or whatever we might wish to call it, we find the fragile soul. Medieval Roman Catholic theology is but one doctrinal codification of a common structure at work in the human mind. The fragile soul belongs to the human race as such. It…
Another Week Ends: Micro-Victims, Robinson’s Fear, Auden’s Shame, Clumsy Kinder, Scripted Sex, & Barth on Ice
1. Over at his Righteous Mind site, moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt follows up his recent article in The Atlantic about “The Coddling of the American Mind” by taking readers on a tour of Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning’s article “Microaggressions and Moral Cultures”, which appeared in Comparative Sociology in 2014. Manning and Campbell argue that we in the West are witnessing a transition in moral cultures, away from Dignity to Victimhood–which actually has more in common with an Honor culture, the main difference between the two being the Victimhood’s appeal to administrative bodies for redress (where those in an Honor…