Commentary

Learning to read Chesterton

I suppose it will be considered heresy in some quarters, but I’ve never been what you would call a fan of the writing of G.K. Chesterton. Some people can’t get enough of GKC. I can.

Grace or karma?

Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Stephen Davis, retired professor of the philosophy of religion at Claremont University. In preparation for the meeting, I read Dr. Davis’ book called Christian Philosophical Theology, which includes a chapter contrasting two basic approaches to religion throughout the world. The first — which can be found in much of the East — is a religion of karma, and the second — prominent in the Abrahamic religions of the West — is a religion of grace.

Charlottesville and America’s original sin

I vividly remember my first visit to Charlottesville, Virginia. It was about 20 years ago, and I was on vacation with a good friend, who shared with me a passion for American history and for Thomas Jefferson in particular. We had toured a number of Civil War battlefields in Maryland and Virginia and then had made our way to Jefferson’s University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Finally, we ventured outside the city to the little hilltop home that the great founder had designed and built for himself, Monticello.

Understanding grace more deeply

The mark of genuine contrition is not a sense of guilt, but a sense of sorrow, of regret for having taken a wrong turn; just as the mark of living in grace is not a sense of our own worth but a sense of being accepted and loved despite our unworthiness. We are spiritually healthy when our lives are marked by honest confession and honest praise.

Being goodhearted is not enough

Charity is about being goodhearted, but justice is about something more. Individual sympathy is good and virtuous, but it doesn’t necessarily change the social, economic and political structures that unfairly victimize some people and unduly privilege others. We need to be fair and good of heart, but we also need to have fair and good policies.