• Art & Culture •
October 31, 2005
The issue of Halloween presses itself annually upon the Christian conscience. Acutely aware of dangers new and old, many Christian parents choose to withdraw their children from the holiday altogether. Others choose to follow a strategic battle plan for engagement with the holiday. Still others have gone further, seeking to convert Halloween into an evangelistic opportunity. Is Halloween really that significant?
October 28, 2005
October 27, 2005
Andrew Sullivan is a man of ideas. In recent years, Sullivan has emerged as one of the most influential intellectuals in American public life. Furthermore, he has been identified with some of the most controversial issues of our times–a fact that is hardly surprising given his libertarian view of morality, conservative views of politics, Roman Catholic views of Christianity, and the fact that he is a prominent homosexual advocate.
October 24, 2005
Hypermodern America has become a collectivity of “spiritualities” even as the contours of American culture become increasingly secularized. How is this possible? The emergence of spirituality as an alternative to historic Christianity is itself a product of secularism–offering universal “meaning” without doctrine, truth, or specific content.
October 19, 2005
Can we live without loyalty? James Q. Wilson argues that the decline of marriage and loyalty now threatens to undermine our social cohesiveness and to produce a generation that cares little about loyalty and prizes freedom over character.
October 13, 2005
Architecture critic Witold Rybczynski offers an essay and slide show on modern megachurches at Slate.com. The photography is striking, but Rbyczynski’s definition of megachurch has everything to do with the size of the building — not theology (the new Mormon conference center in Salt Lake City is included, along with the Lakewood Church’s transformation of what had been known as the Compaq Center in Houston).
September 15, 2005
While on the subject of the ethics of cosmetic surgery, look back with me to an art exhibit held earlier this year at the New York Academy of Sciences in Manhattan. “Face Value: Personal Surgery & Transformation Art” was on exhibit back in the spring of 2005. Consider these excepts from the exhibit’s catalogue:
The first paragraph: Transforming one’s identity in the early 21st century offers an unprecedented array of options–from surgical manipulations to regenerative medicine, from the fashion world to the pharmacy. Health and disease, beauty and the monstrous resonate as end points on a continuum of what we largely consider “normal.” To this mix add the media hype that airbrushes its images in the illusionary world of the Photoshop fix. How far shall one go in altering one’s appearance or personality? What is a true self? What dynamics are at play between inner psyche and outward guise? While some intervention is linked to medical necessity, other instances of body transformation reside in social conformity, biometric disguise, rites of passage, or even neurosis. Others use their corporeal selves as sites of investigation concerning ownership and control of their own bodies.
The final paragraph: Plastic surgery, botox injections, face peels and the like have hit the market with a salient boom. As new materials such as artificial skin, biomedical textiles and tissue engineering continue to develop their applications in remaking the body, will it be possible to transform our bodies even further. Will pluripotent stem cells deliver to us the capabilities of growing new organs? Will we blend with animals or will we become composites? Will our self-image be reconfigured once again to fit the fashion of the coming day, or will these alternative transformation processes homogenize and sanitize difference, making us all look the same? We are reminded here that integrating new technologies into the social order carries with it profound and sometimes disturbing responsibilities. And in a consumer-driven society, where image is everything, are we up to the task?
August 31, 2005
The nation of Canada is something of a mystery to most Americans. The U.S. and Canada share many dimensions of culture, language, heritage, and history. Nevertheless, the two cultures are also significantly different–as any visitor across the border will quickly notice. In addition to the obvious cultural and political differences, demographers now point to another significant distinction–a divide in fertility rates.
August 24, 2005
Steve Salerno is a reporter with wide experience. As a freelance feature writer, Salerno has written for magazines including Harper’s, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and many others. He has contributed articles to the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal. Many of his articles have focused upon “money stories,” that deal with financial scandals and controversies in the business world. Now, he is ready to report on the biggest scandal he has ever encountered–America’s self-help movement.
August 23, 2005
This week’s issue of Newsweek magazine features an extensive series of reports on American spirituality. Taken together, these articles demonstrate something of the eclecticism, superficiality, and diversity of the American spiritual scene. For evangelical Christians, the article should serve an important purpose by helping us to understand the current contours of our mission field right at home.
August 22, 2005
August 3, 2005
In his article, “The Future of Tradition,” author Lee Harris suggests that America’s current culture war is the result of society’s existing customs and traditions being called to the bar of reason and ruthlessly interrogated and cross-examined by an intellectual elite. What happens when such traditions are dishonored and abandoned?