Religion

Religion is one of those things that, depending on who you are, can mean almost anything. It’s simultaneously so personal and so broad that it feels almost impossible to talk about.

Here, we make a start, chipping away at that unending challenge. We talk here about the stories of religion – the stories that we tell ourselves and each other about where we’re from, and what life means. We talk about the stories that shape the lives of believers all around the globe.

Check out some of the quick-start topics below, or scroll down for the most recent – updates every second Wednesday.

On Now: 20th-C Protestants

Protestant thinkers from across the 20th century

The Big Four

Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin

By author

All the texts we’ve discussed, listed by author

Most recent:

Ellul: Serving God and the World

Most of the Christians I went through college with trained as doctors, lawyers, or teachers – all very practical roles where they could contribute to the public good in a tangible, visible way. That’s something they felt compelled by. They were good Christians, and they wanted to help people, so they studied for jobs with…

Niebuhr: On Society and Unity

“Society itself is an expression of the desire of the many for oneness; its ills are all forms of dissension; peace is another name for social health.” We’ve been talking – wow, since September – about H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture. I don’t want to give too much background or context on the book;…

Niebuhr: On Religious Difference

We’ve been talking over the past few weeks about Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, a 1951 text about the different ways of navigating the relationship between Christ and the world, or Christ and culture. Niebuhr explores all these different ways of articulating that relationship, of figuring out how to work the balance between these different…

Niebuhr: On Belonging

So we’ve been looking over the past few weeks at Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture (Niebuhr: On Christ and Culture). I won’t go over the basic argument of the book again, except to say that it’s about how believers understand and manage the relationship between Jesus and the culture around them. Throughout the book, Niebuhr…

Niebuhr: Belief and the Incomplete

We talked recently about H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, a 1951 book exploring the relationship between Christ and culture. We focused on how it establishes two basic poles: ‘Christ against culture’, the idea that Christ exists in opposition to the dominant culture of the day (which you really find to some degree in any…

Niebuhr: On Christ and Culture

Long-time readers will know that I don’t often sit down and summarize the gist of the books I’m reading. The way I see it, there are probably plenty of other resources out there that are much better placed to do that work. If you want an introduction to the thought of Thomas Aquinas or a…

Ellul: Christianity and Anarchy

We discussed recently Jacques Ellul’s Anarchy and Christianity, a 1988 book where Ellul identifies a range of problems with our modern democracy – up to and including how it’s subverted or arguably completely undermined by the wealthy. The diagnosis seems sound, although his solutions maybe haven’t aged very well – he suggests that we should…

Ellul: Can Anarchism Work?

Jacques Ellul was a French theologian and Christian anarchist living in the 20th century. His life spreads fairly neatly across the century – he was born in 1912, and died 1994. He wrote a lot about the relationship between humans and technology, and I’ve been wanting to read his book Propaganda for a little while…

The Atheist’s Handbook: On the Next World

Back at the end of 2019 I wrote a couple articles about Maggie Mae Fish, a Youtuber who created some video essays on those terrible Kirk Cameron films. While Maggie critiqued how the films promote a weird prosperity gospel, I suggested that maybe her critique tipped over into broader attacks on materialism altogether – which…

Edmund Calamy and the Great Ejection

As long as we’re at something of a loose end, I’m picking over a few books that I’d intended to read previously – mostly leftovers from the first phase. One example is Sermons of the Great Ejection, a collection of the final sermons delivered by Puritan ministers before they were tossed out of the Church…

Burke: On Taste

I’ve been thinking lately about the hows and whys of literary criticism. Last week we talked about video game criticism, and this trend of talking about how games ought to be – this week I’ve found myself back reading a classic of aesthetic theory. Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and the Beautiful…

Replace Me: On Precarious Jobs

Time for a change of pace. I’ve been reading (or trying to read) Berdyaev’s Slavery and Freedom for a month and a half, and I’m not making any meaningful progress. So I’m done with that, and possibly also done with the Orthodox writers as well. Maybe we’ll move on to the Protestants, I don’t know…

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