The Annual Mother’s Day Post

One day my mother will die. This is a certainty. For her. For all of us.

What a way to begin my annual Mother’s Day post, right? Every year, I try to tell a story about my childhood or young adulthood that illustrates the impact my mother had on me. I’m not sure I have one this year, at least not one in the traditional sense. Honestly, as I write these words now, I am not sure where this is going to go. Continue reading “The Annual Mother’s Day Post”

Further thoughts on Conjugal Friendship: A Response to Siewers

When an Orthodox Christian brings up the church’s teachings about sexuality…critics respond more to what they perceive to be the agenda of the author than the substance of the argument.

Ancient Faith’s “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy” blog recently featured a guest post by Dr. Alfred Kentigern Siewers, responding to Giacomo Sanfilippo’s recent article on Conjugal Friendship in Public Orthodoxy. Sanfilippo deserves praise for broaching a topic that puts a bullseye on his back, and Siewers deserves praise for his thoughtful and measured response. These two articles, together, exemplify a spirit of dialog over an issue that needs to be fully and reasonably considered, but which often generates more heat than light. That said, Siewers seems to be countering a set of arguments that Sanfilippo simply does not make. Continue reading “Further thoughts on Conjugal Friendship: A Response to Siewers”

Did Sergei Bulgakov Read Søren Kierkegaard?

This morning I was looking up a passage from Bulgakov’s 1917 foray into theology, The Unfading Lightwhen I happened upon the following passage:

Moreover, religion, which some wish to reduce entirely to ethics, in its integrity is higher than ethics and hence free from it: ethics exists for the human being in certain bounds such as law, but the human being must be able to rise above even ethics. Let them ponder the sense of those stories of the Bible when God, for the purposes of religious economy, or for testing faith, permitted or even ordered acts that wittingly contradict morality: the sacrifice of an only son, the bloody extermination of whole nations, deceit, and theft.

What Bulgakov says here about ethics, and mention of the sacrifice of Isaac, should raise the eyebrows of anyone who has read Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. Did Bulgakov get this from Kierkegaard? Or did he stumble into the teleological suspension of the ethical by accident? This is more than a point of curiosity for me. Those of us who try to figure out what dead people were thinking benefit greatly from knowing who they were reading. Unfortunately, Orthodox theologians in the past did not always cite their western sources, and even more unfortunately, most of what Bulgakov did footnote, Eerdman’s publishing decided wasn’t worth printing. But don’t get me started on that.

I really would like this question answered. So “Like” this post and share it with all your Russian friends.

Follow me at @DrDavidJDunn.

My Daughter is a Smrt-ss

Der Reder,

I cn’t use the letter. It’s mking me relly upset. So now your job is to find…

Yesterday my daughter participated in Vanderbilt’s WAVU program. She took a creative writing course. One of the exercises she was assigned was to write a brief letter, but she could not use any words that contained the letter “A.” So naturally she wrote this: Evernote Snapshot 20170304 193239.png

Der Reder,

I cn’t use the letter. It’s mking me relly upset. So now your job is to find out wht letter I’m not using. It should be reltively esy. nywho, I’m smrtlic so of course I was [sic] gonn do something like this. I’m lwys finding loopholes. Who sid it had to be rel words.

This is what I’m up against people.

Every. Dy.

Reflections on the Wise Words of Cartman

Preach!

Last summer a friend of mine from work laminated this for me. It sits behind my office desk now, and I try to look at it everyday. It’s been nearly a decade since I watched South Park. (I have less of a stomach for raunchiness now.) But the episode from which this quotation was taken has stuck with me. Cartman decides he will take it upon himself to enforce traffic laws, and when he feels people are not showing him proper deference, he starts hitting them in the shins with his nightstick.

Why do I keep this poster by my desk? To remind me of this… Continue reading “Reflections on the Wise Words of Cartman”

Freelance Educational Consulting

The other morning I got up to write, but I ended up spending 90 minutes helping a friend write instructions to his students for a class project. It was a complicated game he brilliantly called Leviathan. We had been hashing out parts of it over the past few weeks. He wanted a kind of simulation that would help his students think more critically about the writings of Thomas Hobbes (the war of all against all, and all that). The idea we worked out riffed on a popular camp game called “Assassins,” but with lots of complicated rules intended to keep the students engaged and the professor (my friend) out of trouble (rules that involved not making university officials ask questions). I ended up having a lot of fun thinking about this thing off and on over the past few weeks, and then in the 90 minutes it took me to try to make the rules of a pedagogical LARP into something his students could understand easily.  Continue reading “Freelance Educational Consulting”

What the Hell is Happening???

I woke up this morning to find that the Trump administration had fired Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General, because she refused to defend his refugee ban in court. Screw the independent judiciary.

Two days ago I learned that the Department of Homeland security was defying court stays of Trump’s executive order banning refugees.

A few days before that I saw a rich white woman talk about the threat of bear attacks in schools, and today she is poised to be approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions later today.

Oh! And did I mention that a white nationalist with no experience in national security is now sitting in on every National Security Council meeting?

The past few days have convinced me more than ever before of two things.

  1. Americans desperately need to revive a liberal arts education. Focusing on education as a means to earn an income has left us bereft of critical thinking skills or the kind of historical knowledge that would help more people to recognize the serious danger Trump poses to democracy.
  2. American Christianity is bankrupt. The fact that many good, church-going people voted for this man, even though they had serious misgivings about him, proves that far too many Christians do not know the difference between being a disciple of Jesus Christ and being a Republican.

I have never felt closer to principled conservatives than I do today. I desperately need them to step up, which they are beginning to do. The conservative public needs their leadership.

I have hope for Bob Corker, my senator from Tennessee, if for no other reason than that he has always struck me as a decent and reasonable human being.

There is political opportunity to be had here as well. The first Republican senator to hold a news conference denouncing Trump’s demagoguery will be the next GOP presidential frontrunner. Assuming we make it that long.