Party like a Pagan

(c) Copyright 2005, Hoosier Photo[#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D70 2006/11/19 14:59:28.2 Compressed RAW (12-bit) Image Size: Large (3008 x 2000) Lens: 18-70mm F/3.5-4.5 G Focal Length: 35mm Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern 1/4 sec - F/11 Exposure Comp.: +0.7 EV Sensitivity: ISO 200 Optimize Image: Portrait White Balance: Auto AF Mode: AF-S Flash Sync Mode: Slow Sync Flash Mode: TTL-BL Auto Flash Comp: 0 EV Color Mode: Mode Ia (sRGB) Tone Comp.: Auto Hue Adjustment: 0° Saturation: Normal Sharpening: Medium low Image Comment: Long Exposure NR: Off Group A: TTL Group B: TTL [#End of Shooting Data Section]“So, what is the most common ritual of pagan religions and cults?” a friend once asked me. He wanted a salacious answer, like human sacrifice or ritualistic sex.

“Feasts and fasts” was the answer he got instead.

Despite the fact that most of us eat food every day, there is something intrinsically special about eating, and eating with others. This doesn’t mean that everyone likes it, of course. I know more than a few people who view eating as a necessary refueling and nothing more. But there is a reason that, throughout the world, people generally eat in community. Continue reading

God is Not Your Passive Aggressive Girlfriend


My senior year of high school, I wrote a letter to the administrator, who was also a pastor. Our teachers tell us to ‘think, don’t feel’ in direct contradiction to Obi-wan Kenobi’s advice in Star Wars, I said. But then we’re told ‘where do you feel God leading you?’ How can we say both? What are we supposed to do? Think, or feel? Continue reading

In Defense of Online Dating

2015-8-6 Online img01Way back in February, a friend sent me this article from a Christian website, warning about the problems ‘inherent’ in online dating. As I had been encouraging a different friend to move in that direction, I was of course interested in hearing objections. What I found was a narrative of ‘Biblical’ dating/courtship/whatever that is distressingly common among conservative Christians, and, what seems to me, a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the community v. individual before, during, and after looking for a spouse. Continue reading

Evangelicalism: It Ain’t What It Used to Be

2015-6-25 Evangelical img01“Why does ‘Evangelical’ seem to be synonymous with ‘bad theology’?” a friend asked recently. She, like many conservative Christians, had always identified as Evangelical. Yet more and more often the word was used as a pejorative or at the very least in a dismissive manner by other Christians who also identified as conservative. Continue reading

The Virtue of Shame

2015-3-23 shame img01“…Loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable; that one false step involves her in endless ruin; that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful; and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behavior towards the undeserving of the other sex.” This comes from Mary, the homely, pietistic Bennett daughter in Pride and Prejudice. In the context of the novel’s events, her comment is somewhat less than helpful, but it also rings true. In many ways, all a woman has ever had is her reputation. Continue reading

Good, True, Beautiful

2015-2-25 GoodTrueBeautiful img01Editor’s Note: To commemorate the one-year anniversary of Good True Beautiful, Pallas has undertaken to summarize a mission statement for the blog.

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”

Continue reading

Leaving the Party

2014-12-11 fraternities img01I don’t go on Facebook much these days, but every so often I pop on to check for one thing or another and happen to see the first few posts on my feed.  Right before Thanksgiving, a number of those posts were from current or former UVA students expressing their outrage at the situation described in the recent Rolling Stone article on a rape. Continue reading

Playing the Game

2014-11-13 grad school img01On the first day of school in kindergarten, I sat a table and looked a bunch of kids I didn’t know. I was a little bit nervous, as probably any child is in this situation. But then I saw her: the most beautiful girl my five-year-old eyes had ever seen. Emboldened, I walked up to her and said: “You’re very pretty. Will you be my friend?” Continue reading

Of Good Sense and Sensibility

2014-9 God's Will img01

Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee  –Proverbs 2:11

The other night, I met a family member’s fiancé, although I didn’t know it at the time. She’s a few years younger than me, in her early 20s, and this was her first boyfriend. I was very interested in getting to know him, because years ago, I had her pegged as a prime candidate for an abusive relationship. She fit the profile: youngest child, lousy father, compliant personality who tended to give the answer she thought people wanted, even if the question at hand was incredibly trivial.

I was pleasantly relieved to talk to this guy, then, and have a really great conversation.

Continue reading

An Englishman Abroad

unnamedIt is often when we are abroad that we see the best and the worst of people. There is a reason for the enduring stereotype of the Ugly American, after all. Even at our best overseas, we are a rough-and-tumble sort of people, and it shows: rougher, simpler, more violent, more enterprising. Indiana Jones might be an excellent example. But let us examine the virtues of another stereotypical nationality in the larger world. Let us examine and appreciate the abiding image of the Englishman abroad.

We all have a picture of what this looks like in our minds, this creature from the days of colonialism, when the Empire was still at its height. Continue reading