Doug Sikkema  |  August 14, 2014  |  Cultural Renewal, Journalism, War & Peace

If you haven’t been following the five-part series The Islamic State put out by VICE News, you might consider it if you’re interested in the shocking parade of stories coming out of Iraq and Syria. (You can get caught up here on the first four parts currently produced, but be warned: some of it is quite disturbing.) Since ISIS is presumably allowing the filming to … MORE »

Doug Sikkema  |  August 8, 2014  |  Culture, Justice, Parenting

A few years ago, my brother and I were driving from Texas to Ontario and on the way we stopped in Kentucky where—long story short—we “ran into” Wendell Berry. He was giving a talk to a group of Louisville students out in a park and after the talk, people asked all sorts of questions about farming, food, and economics. Yet what the conversation kept turning … MORE »

It is dangerous to be a Christian in many parts of the world today, and it appears to be becoming more so. Not a day goes by that I don’t get a report about Christians being executed, facing imprisonment, or having to flee their homes in some part of the world. Meriam Ibrahim was imprisoned and sentenced to death for converting from Islam to Christianity … MORE »

Doug Sikkema  |  July 25, 2014  |  Education, Vocation

“So just what are you going to do with that degree?”  If you’re planning to enter university or college in a month or so, or maybe even just graduated this past spring and are on the hunt for gainful employment, you’ve probably heard a form of this question at least a dozen times from well-intentioned parents and friends. Now if you’re going into the sciences, … MORE »

Ray Pennings  |  July 24, 2014  |  Culture, Institutions, Justice

Although I’ve done it a few times, carrying a placard in a public protest really isn’t my thing. That’s not to say it isn’t important or can’t be effective. Washington, 1963. Gdansk, 1981. Tiananmen Square, 1989. Arab Spring, 2011. Mass people presence with chants and placards can make a difference and change history. But this needs to be kept in perspective. The fact that some … MORE »

Doug Sikkema  |  July 21, 2014  |  Language, Philosophy

Man is a symbol-using (symbol-making, symbol-misusing) animal.           - Kenneth Burke, “Definition of Man” In a piece in The Telegraph a few months ago, John Preston made the compelling case that we’re losing the war against jargon. And although he doesn’t frame it this way, jargon—the idiosyncratic language of the specialized chattering classes—commits sins against language. In failing to “be short, be simple, and be human,” … MORE »

Alan Jacobs  |  July 17, 2014  |  Education, Institutions, Religion

This article was originally published on the Text Patterns blog, July 3, 2014. Reprinted courtesy of the author. Peter Conn is right about one thing: college accreditation is a mess. But his comments about religious colleges are thoughtless, uninformed, and bigoted. Conn is appalled—appalled—that religious colleges can receive accreditation. Why does this appall him? Well, because they have communal statements of faith, and this proves that in them “the … MORE »

Cindy Brandt  |  July 11, 2014  |  Culture, Justice, Media

Last month a piece broke from Newsweek, launching a richly reported accusation against an activist superstar in the development field of human trafficking, Somaly Mam. According to Newsweek, there is significant evidence pointing to falsehoods in the back story of Mam. The details regarding how she was sold into a brothel and the amount of time spent in captivity contain inconsistencies that can’t be ignored. … MORE »

Ray Pennings  |  July 9, 2014  |  Culture, Politics, Religion

“All the world is strange,” said the Quaker to his wife, “except for me and thee. But even thee I wonder about.” These days I am feeling a lot like the Quaker’s wife. Western democracy is the offspring of a marriage of ideas between Christian social thought and the enlightenment. In different contexts, the particular features of democracy remind us more of one intellectual parent … MORE »

Doug Sikkema  |  July 4, 2014  |  Culture, Loves, Religion, War & Peace

Whether you celebrated Canada Day earlier in the week or are celebrating Independence Day today, this is usually the time of year when the flags are unfurled, the fireworks lit, and national narratives reinforced. If, like me, you’re from Canada, you likely heard stories affirming our peacefulness, our tolerance, our multiculturalism, and our general goodwill at home and abroad. If you’re from America, then you … MORE »