The last couple of months have been a whirlwind of work, vacations, baby preparations, and general life minutia. In all the comings and goings I have had the opportunity to write a few pieces for some friends that readers of this blog may be interested in. Trouble’s been, I haven’t done a good job of linking to them here.
So here’s what I’ve been writing.
The Culture War is Interested In You—Mere Orthodoxy
Rather than thinking of culture war as a Byzantine byword, we should consider the realities behind it. As Richard Weaver wrote many years ago, ideas have consequences. There is an undeniable conflict in American culture between the doctrines of self-authentication and autonomy and those of transcendence and obligation. “Culture war” may be too small or too cute a phrase for this conflict, but it nevertheless gets to the heart of something very important. Conservatives who think they can opt out of the culture war may think they are skipping schism en route to charity, but they are really skipping charity as well.
The summer blockbuster is often an action-packed, thrill-a-minute crowd pleaser with plenty to keep your attention. But many times, it will also be a quickly made, unimaginatively written spectacle. Because major movie studios know that people are looking for some quick entertainment from summer movies, it’s common to see an entire season’s worth of predictable “formula films” (let’s face it: The Lone Ranger was basically Pirates of the Caribbean 5) or tired, umpteenth sequels.
While it’s easy to be content with something that merely keeps our attention for two hours, there are deeper joys to be had at the movies. As Francis Schaeffer reminds us, Christians should care about the excellence of art. We should care whether a film script shows creativity and intelligence or is too busy blowing things up to say anything. We should care whether a story is compelling or is something we’ve seen a hundred times before. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask a movie to be well-made.
The Toxic Lie of Me Before You–The Gospel Coalition
Me Before You is a rom-com lacquered in layers of sinister irony, a love story that ends up celebrating autonomy instead of love, despair instead of hope.
At the beginning we see Will’s life before the accident. He wakes up next to his lover in an expensive apartment, before walking down the street conducting what is obviously Important Business on the phone. Later, Louisa stumbles on a video on Will’s laptop that shows him jumping off gorgeous seaside cliffs with friends.
This is the “life” Will demands and cannot live without. When he says “life,” he means fun and pleasure and success—and rather than challenge this notion, the main characters of Me Before You must learn to accept it.
Biola University, located in Southern California and one of the country’s most well-known and prestigious evangelical colleges, now finds itself arguing for its right to be evangelical. The state legislature is seeking to amend a non-discrimination law which would stipulate that the only schools that can be granted religious exemptions to the non-discrimination statutes are schools that exist for the training of pastors and theological educators. Schools that offer more general programs—like a degree in humanities, engineering, or public education—would be required to submit to the non-discrimination law, effectively ending any legal protection for colleges and universities that want to only admit professing Christians or maintain campus-wide spiritual life programs.