Are the Truth Claims of Christianity Literal?

In last week’s article The Motte and Bailey of Christian Belief, I commented on a trend I’ve noticed among Christians to make bold, hard-to-defend claims (the resurrection of Christ) and then retreating to broad, easy-to-defend claims (God is the ultimate mystery or “ground of being”) when pushed to defend the former.

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Sacred Tension: Uncanceling Ourselves | Jonathan Rauch

In this episode of Sacred Tension, I’m joined by gay activist, author, and Brookings Institute scholar Jonathan Rauch to discuss his recent article Uncanceling Ourselves. We discuss how a tiny minority of activists have an outsized chilling effect on necessary discourse, and steps we can take to free ourselves from a fearful mindset.

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The Motte and Bailey of Christian Belief

I remain connected to the Christian world, even though I’m not a Christian. This is because I value friendship, and I don’t want to cut ties with people who are very dear to me. While having conversations about faith with Christians, though, I’ve noticed a trend that annoys me.

Christians will often make strong, extraordinary, and hard-to-defend claims about the world. But when pressed on these claims, they often retreat to more philosophical, vague, and easier-to-defend claims. This tactic is called the Motte and Bailey. When the Bailey is under attack, they retreat to the Motte.

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Sacred Tension: Of Boys and Men | Richard Reeves

In this episode of Sacred Tension, I’m joined by Brookings Institute scholar Richard Reeves to discuss his new book Of Boys and Men. We discuss the unique challenges facing boys and men, how intersectionality is a valuable tool, the crisis of meaning among some men, whether porn is a negative force in society, and much more. 

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Sacred Tension: Derrida, The Exorcist, and Losing Faith | David Rutledge of The Philosopher’s Zone

In this episode of Sacred Tension, I’m joined by podcaster David Rutledge of ABC’s The Philosopher’s Zone to talk about his religious upbringing, his interest in Satanism, his loss of religious faith, and his objections to public intellectuals who take an over-simplified and divisive approach to “postmodernism.”

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Mitch Horowitz on Reading Great Occult Texts

For the past few weeks on the blog, I’ve been discussing the importance of reading challenging texts. “Challenging” covers a broad range of books — it can mean books you hate, books you don’t enjoy, books that you are ideologically opposed to, or books that are worth reading but hard to get through.

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J.K. Rowling and Resilient Reading

I’ve been reading J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series (written under the pen name Robert Galbraith), and it’s ignited some reflections on one of my long-standing obsessions: reading literature deemed harmful, problematic, or dangerous. In my circles, reading anything by J.K. Rowling is fraught. In the aftermath of her public stances on trans people, a generation of readers are now re-examining her books and legacy. Mentioning that I’m reading J.K. Rowling inevitably generates exasperated sighs, eye rolls, or outright hostility.

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