You may not realize this, but there is an embattled group of religious believers in this country that is badly in need of protection from public hostility. Fortunately, help is on the way. Bestselling books by Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are providing encouragement, support, and supposedly rational argumentation to help lonely atheists who are feeling isolated in the dominant Christian culture of America and the West. Another morale booster is coming this month with the release of a new book by Christopher Hitchens: God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
King Tut has returned—this time to Philadelphia. Having first been rediscovered in the Valley of the Kings in 1922, and having toured the world in the most popular exhibition ever in the 1970’s, the treasures of King Tutankhamun are on display at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute. The boy-king will not pass this way again any time soon. By special permission of the Egyptian government, more than one hundred objects from his tomb and elsewhere are here through the end of September.
Rarely has one man stood up against so many opponents—or against so great an evil—for so long and with so little encouragement, before finally meeting with such a complete triumph, as William Wilberforce in his long battle against the institution of slavery.
The three years that Lisa and I spent up at Oxford were some of the best years of our lives. We had the time to study and the leisure to explore one of the world’s most beautiful cities, with opportunities to engage in gospel ministry and form lasting friendships. By the grace of God, we also had a balanced daily schedule that enabled us to set patterns for family life that prepared us for future service in the church. One essential part of that daily pattern was and is family dinner.
Historians now generally regard the 1900’s as “the American Century.” What do you suppose they will call the twenty-first century? Possibly “the Biotech Century,” as new scientific discoveries enable the radical re-engineering of the human body.
I have no objection to jolly laughs; I enjoy a hearty “ho-ho-ho” as much as anyone. Nor do I have any reservations about long white beards, soft red velvet, fat round tummies, or bright rosy cheeks. I certainly have nothing against bringing children presents, whether down the chimney or otherwise. But I do regret the way in which the legend of Santa Claus crowds the Christ child out of Christmas. This is all the more regrettable when I consider the life of the real Saint Nicholas, who may have understood the true meaning of Christmas as well as anyone in the history of the church.
To help prepare a scrapbook for my grandfather’s 90th birthday, my mother was given a small treasure trove of old letters from around the 1940’s. Most of them were written by my Great Grandpa Ernest and sent to my grandfather, Albert Graham. In addition to opening a fresh window on family history, the letters bequeath a rich legacy of trust in God and devotion to Jesus Christ.
Christmas carols will always be everyone’s favorite holiday songs—partly because there are so many good ones, and partly because we sing them for almost a whole month at the “most wonderful time of the year.” The Easter hymns aren’t far behind, with their exuberant and triumphant celebration of life after death. But there is also something to be said for the joyous solemnity of the hymns we love to sing at Thanksgiving. They too have their place on our spiritual calendar, bringing many happy memories of fellowship and feasting.
The most comprehensive public exhibition on the life and thought of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is on display at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute through December 31. In case any introduction is needed, Charles Darwin is father to the theory of evolution, and the current show provides an intimate view of the development of his science and religion.
By almost any objective measure, literary reading is on the decline. I refer not to total illiteracy (although that too is a problem in many rural, urban, and immigrant communities), but to a decline in the ability of Americans who have a complete formal education to read texts of any complexity with real comprehension.