Reflections on the Book of Job

03.18.2018 / Culture


Check out Dan Sheffler’s deep thoughts on one of the Holy Bible’s deepest* books: Job.

Dr. Sheffler maintains that the book is not about evil but about suffering. In this light, he offers a thorough and (to my mind) persuasive account of how to interpret the internal dynamics of this bewildering book.

If you want more reflections on the book of Job, watch or re-watch Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life. The opening marquee quotes from Job, making the whole film a response to (or summary of?) Job’s questions to God.

*How to compare depths? If all the books of the Bible are limitless, can they be ranked along those lines? I would suggest that the they can be so ranked. The deepest books, as it seems to me, are books such as Genesis, Psalms, Job, Ecclesiastes, John, Revelation. While all the sacred scrolls reward intense and repeated study, these six or so (among others) seem the most unlikely to ever become transparent and comprehensible, even to experts or saints.

Seeing Other as Self, Seeing Self as Other

03.01.2018 / Culture


One of the great blessings of travel is being able not only to see another culture, but returning to your own culture and seeing yourself with fresh eyes. Mirrors can’t do that.

That’s also true of certain movies, like the film “Babies” (2010) which showcases Mongolian, African, and American mothers and babies in such a way that us Americans see our families – to acclimate to someone else’s normal, and then to rapidly return to your own, allows you to see and feel the concrete textures and weirdness of your own “normal.” Terrence Mallick’s “New World” does that for English culture.

A fish doesn’t know it’s wet. It would have to be dry long enough and then suddenly dunked in the weird, slippery wetness.

Empathy may be the capacity to see the other as yourself. But there is an equal and opposite capacity I don’t know the name for: the capacity to to see yourself as other. If I could have one superpower, it would be the power to see myself as others see me, and to see others as they see themselves.

Tonight I saw a talent show at a high school. I could see Santa Clarita culture, in all its weird, vivid, freshness. Not to say I saw it as good or bad; just that I saw its humanity. We LA people don’t know we are “LA” any more than a fish knows it’s wet. But it’s obvious to people in Portland, or Witchita, or Boston.

Tonight I saw the sharp, jagged outlines of Southern California, Greater LA culture as clearly as I could truly feel the otherness of a tribal rain dance or hearing an Australian didgeridoo dirge, or a medieval Gregorian chant. It was a gift!

Introducing Jordan Peterson

02.28.2018 / Politics


If you’re just hearing about JBP, don’t let anyone define him into a box for you, too quickly. Get to know him.

His critics like to use their one (and only?) trusty tool of slander and guilt-by-association.

In reality, Peterson is a clinical and academic psychologist. He has spent years in clinical practice and published widely influential research on religion, mythology, and psychology.

More recently (as in 2-3 years ago), he became YouTube content creator and political commentator.

I’ve been enjoying Peterson’s YouTube content for a while now. There’s a lot of it, far more than I have seen. He’s more than just a pundit on sexual politics. For example, he explains why your path to enlightenment goes down through the darkest parts of you, the places you least want to see, acknowledge, and tackle.

Some other JBP to explore:

Some Interviews and Articles

A Jordan Peterson Round Up

01.24.2018 / Politics


The interview between Jordan Peterson and Cathy Newman of Channel 4 is a must see.

If you have 30 minutes to spare… the video will edify and/or decimate you.

A Canadian psychologist spent 20-30 uncomfortable but productive minutes being interviewed by a British journalist and suddenly his book shot to #1 on Amazon.



Among my favorite highlights from this interview are the underrated lines:

  • “Grow the hell up.”
  • “Women deeply want men who are competent.”

In my view, Newman tussled with a well-researched, well-spoken psychologist who actually knows people from his decades in clinical psychology. She wasn’t prepared for calm, well-reasoned answers delivered in a friendly manner.

She looked like she was piling up straw men. She helped increase his fame.

The Reactions

Lately, Peterson’s “book tour” consists of simply going on television, saying true things simply and forcefully, receiving insane backlash, and creating internet culture.

There have been serious and not-so-serious reactions.

Some think piece reactions to the Newman interview

Some Internet Culture reactions


The Last Jedi Had to be Surprising... and it Succeeded

01.17.2018 / Culture


Part 1. (No Spoilers)

I don’t envy Chris Terrio.

What in the world is Episode IX going to be about?

Chris Terrio and JJ Abrams have to write a chapter to follow the Last Jedi (TLJ). Doing so is going to be almost impossible. I’ll try to explain why later… But just think about it: What is it going to be about?

Here’s my bottom line review of The Last Jedi: Rian Johnson hit a target in the bullseye.

That is, he accomplished exactly what he set out to do; he satisfied his own criterion.

But was it the right target to aim for?

The question (for audiences and critics) is whether he was aiming for the right thing. If you agree with his target, you’ll love the movie; if not, you’ll hate it.

I’ve not read or heard many reviews that were lukewarm. Either Johnson improved Star Wars or “ruined” Star Wars.


TLJ ratiings

In my review, I have three goals.

First, I want to argue that TLJ is a truly good film. I think it’s Rian Johnson’s best by far, and probably better than Rogue One or Episode VII.

Second, I want to argue that people are justified in not liking it. I get it. TLJ is weird and disappointing and destructive. It changes things and plays fast and loose with sacred elements of the franchise.

Third, I want explain and defend the expectations that one must have in order to enjoy the movie.

I’ve been very curious to understand why this movie is so divisive. Almost half the movie going audience hated the dang thing; and almost half loved it. The film is slightly less divisive than Donald Trump, but only slightly.

It’d be nice for some more reviews that help each side understand the other.

Read the rest...

Charles Williams on Empathy

01.14.2018 / Misc

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Charles Williams, close friend of (and influence on) CS Lewis once said:

“If a man seems to himself to endure the horrors of shipwreck, though he walks on dry land and breathes clear air, the business of his friend is more likely to be to accept those horrors, as he feels them, carrying the burden, than to explain that the burden cannot, as a matter of fact, exist.” – Descent Into Hell, Chapter 5

Empathy sometimes requires correcting a loved one’s delusion. But sometimes it requires not correcting someone’s delusion.

This kind of empathy is required rather often in parenting. Children need to be believed, and comforted within their incorrect belief, as often as they need to be taught the correct belief. If my son thinks there is a monster in the closet, I don’t tell him “There’s no such thing as monsters;” I go in the closet with a bat and dramatically kill the beast.

This kind of empathy is sometimes required with parents, friends, clients, students.

If an atheist tells me that he feels as if god is cruel, harsh, uncaring, my first response is to help him carry the burden of living in a world with such a god.

Believe first, affirm and comfort first, then correct (later), if and when it’s appropriate.

The Super Duper Meta-Irony of the Room

01.10.2018 / Culture

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Once upon a time, Tommy Wiseau created a film: The Room.

The Room is so bad that it’s almost miraculous.

The Room is like a horrifying mixture of castle-in-a-cloud idealism and an actual trainwreck.

The Room is a trainwreck in a cloud.

It’s funny mostly because it’s not trying to be funny.

Tommy Wiseau created it without knowing how bad it is.

Wiseau is so frank, unapologetic, genuine, and likable in his awfulness that he elicits mixture of embarrassment, pity, and equally genuine delight.

Now, we know the Internet memefies everything it loves.

Accordingly, it has memefied everything about the Room. There’s not just the regular memes, videos, gifs, pics, rifs, songs, and allusions – there’s a full, faithfully rendered Room video game.

Read the rest...

Real virtue wins out every time

01.01.2018 / Classical education


I’m happy to announce a new interview with a classical educator, Dr. “Lou” Markos. Dr. Markos is a literature professor and authority on C.S. Lewis as well as a dynamic voice in the classical renewal.

In this talk, Dr. Markos explains next steps for classical educators, how we can win the culture war by being Frodo, why you shouldn’t go to Yale or Harvard especially if you could, and more.

(Some of the audio quality isn’t the best, but it’s audible – thanks for your patience!)

If you enjoy this interview, please, “like”, comment, and “subscribe”. I have one more interview to edit and post soon, and more coming up!

Thanks Dr. Markos for taking the time!

Check out Markos’ Books here.

And his page at HBU here.

Some key quotes:

  • “Preserve masculinity and femininity!”.
  • “At a classical school people are healthy of body, mind, and soul. There is real eagerness.”

Monkey Island Updates

12.26.2017 / Culture


Approximately 27 years ago, I played a game called “The Secret of Monkey Island” with my brothers and sisters. I was eight years old. The game was funny, fun, and an enduring source of delight in my family.

Although Monkey Island was an incredibly enchanted piece of my childhood, I thought it was just another game. Turns out it was apparently a brilliant adventure game and a watershed.

Ron Gilbert, the creator, has made a new game via Kickstarter: it’s called Thimbleweed Park.

I bought and started playing Thimbleweed Park as a Christmas treat. So far, it’s hilarious and fun.

Feeling nostalgic, I re-played all of Monkey Island (the first one) with my son. He was interested the whole time I let him watch.

Amazingly, I remembered about 50% of the puzzles all these years later. In addition to the nostalgia, I also genuinely laughed out loud, crushed on Elaine, and felt joy and sehnsucht.

Ron Gilbert also runs a blog that is delightfully grumpy. It’s called grumpy gamer. I even posted a comment on his wall.

Moral of the story: Gilbert’s a genius and Monkey Island is not just “good when I was a child” good but actually good. And I recommend checking out Thimbleweed Park if you want a few hours to kill!

Advice to Christian Philosophers -- Eric Silverman Interview

11.24.2017 / Philosophy


I’m happy to announce a new interview on my other blog, Advice to Christian

Our 4th interview is with Eric J. Silverman, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies at Christopher Newport University.

Dr. Silverman is a philosopher of contemporary ethics and medieval philosophy. He did his undergraduate study at Rutgers and majored in political science and history, intending at the time to go to law school. After surviving a battle with cancer (Hodgkins-Lymphoma), he decided to study philosophy(!). He earned his MA from Baylor and Ph.D. from St. Louis University under the guidance of Eleonore Stump.

His first book, The Prudence of Love (Lexington Press), argues that love is a virtue which benefits those who practice it.


With a penchant for fascinating topics, Silverman’s most recent volume is Paradise Understood: New Philosophical Essays about Heaven

"...systematically investigates heaven, or paradise, as conceived within theistic religious traditions such as Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It considers a variety of topics concerning what life in paradise would, could, or will be like for human persons. The collection offers novel approaches to questions about heaven of perennial philosophical interest, and breaks new ground by expanding the range of questions about heaven that philosophers have considered."

Paradise Understood includes essays by Richard Swinburne, Robert Audi, and more, and it is co-edited by Ryan Byerly and published by Oxford.

It was recently reviewed by the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

You can read more about the project here or order the book on Amazon.

In this interview, he shares sage advice for younger philosophers who are making their way through school and the job market, including:

  • how surviving cancer lead him to study philosophy
  • how a high place for universal love (as opposed to love of family, nation, etc.) is distinctive to Christian philosophers
  • why non-Christians shouldn’t re-invent the wheel when arguing for or against God
  • how to think analytically about the afterlife
  • and more!

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  • 04.01.2017 – A Recent Chapter on Deification His article clarifies what the notion of “becoming god” amounts to, and explains the various species of deifiction: political deification, deification through beauty, deification as magic, deification as imitation, Christian deification, self-deification, deification through Gnosticism. This is all historically informative and very interesting; the kicker is that he accurately covers our own fashionable form of deification: techno-deification.

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