Essay / Culture

“Something to Do With Something Else”

Before the camera shut off, the police officer who had put the lethal choke hold on Eric Garner looked directly into the lens and explained, “this wasn’t about the fight. This had something to do with something else.” It seems  he meant to obfuscate, but

Essay / Culture

A Real Advent

According to St. Benedict of Nursia the Christian life should be a continuous Lent. And according to Sts. Wal-Mart, Target, and Starbucks the fall should be a continuous Christmas. Holiday decorations have gone up earlier this year in stores and on city lampposts. Throughout much

Essay / Culture

Theology and California: The Book

I’m pleased to announce the publication of a strange, new book: Theology and California: Theological Refractions on California’s Culture (Ashgate, 2014), edited by Jason Sexton and me. It’s available in hardcover for your libraries, softcover with a gorgeous cover photo, and e-book for portability. As

Essay / Blog

Remembering Chris Mitchell

On Thursday night, my dear friend Chris died of a heart attack. We in the Torrey Honors Institute were—are—in complete shock. There were no warning signs, nothing indicating that his health was in decline. (An undetected heart disease proved to be the cause.) Chris and

Essay / Culture

I Believe in the Communion of (Global) Saints: Writing World Christianity

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice,“Salvation belongs

Essay / Culture

A Graduation Speech for the Torrey Honors Institute

On Friday, we watched as the Class of 2014 in the Torrey Honors Institute graduated. Most of the students I have worked closely with in the last four years graduated, and I got the chance to speak to them. How do you give a graduation

Essay / Culture

Neuroscience Talk May Be Literally Re-Wiring Your Brain

Brain-talk is everywhere these days. And while I love a good functional MRI as much as the next citizen, lately I’ve become alert to the way all of this brain-and-neuron rhetoric functions. It has a conjuring power, giving an aura of sciencey power to absolutely any

Essay / Blog

On Being Faithful Citizens

The last of Torrey’s 2013-14 distinguished lectures has just become available online, so it seems appropriate to take a look back at the series and consider what our speakers had to teach us about the theme, faithful citizenship. There’s much that could be said; all

Essay / Culture

Okay, NOW Racism’s Over, Right?

Back in March, Torrey prof Jamie Campbell and her husband Andrew posted here at Scriptorium about their experiences and understandings of racial identity. Their stated goal was to help get past a set of platitudes about race that are over-used, simplistic, and ambiguous: “We’re all

Essay / Blog

Three Records and Three Books

record noun \ˈre-kərd also -ˌkȯrd\  something on which sound or visual images have been recorded; specifically :  a disc with a spiral groove carrying recorded sound for phonograph reproduction You know, those big black circles with the hole in the middle? I had a baby blue and white plastic Fisher Price

Essay / Culture

Green Message Culture

For some years now, I’ve had the vague sensation that the ads about ecology and environment have changed over the course of my life. I grew up with lots of nature documentaries, and also with the “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” and “crying Indian” ad

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Essay / Culture

Born This Way (so Raise Your Glass, All You Fireworks)

Three hit songs in the last few months have pushed the same message: You are awesome. You’re awesome just the way you are, even –no, especially– if you don’t fit in. The three songs are “Firework” by Katy Perry, “Raise Your Glass” by Pink, and