Author: Beth Haile

The problem with zoos

A week ago, I took my children to the zoo. A long-time vegetarian, I had always avoided zoos because I assumed that they were cruel to animals. I imagined tiny cages with bars, the kind you see in picture books from fifty years ago. My children were insistent, however. They wanted to see a zoo first-hand, and several trusted friends insisted that this zoo was a good one. I am always willing to change my mind about moral judgments based on good evidence. So we went. The zoo (which I won’t name) was a very large, well-endowed zoo. Many...

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Great Literature is an Indispensable Part of the Moral Life

I encounter a lot of people, some highly-educated and some not who simply do not read fiction. One guy I spoke with recently dismissed time spent reading literature with playing video games—a total waste of time, valuable only for entertainment. I meet others who say that with how little time they have, they will only read non-fiction, which is “truly worthwhile.” I think this view is really misguided. I want to make a case why reading fiction, particularly really excellent literature, should have a more prized place in your daily schedule, particularly as it relates to the moral life....

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First Sunday of Lent

GN 2:7-9; 3:1-7 PS 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17 ROM 5:12-19 MT 4:1-11 I have always found the prosperity gospel pretty perplexing for a religion that places the crucifixion at the center of the faith. How can we conclude that a God who leads his own son through the passion and cross, and tells us to take us our own crosses and follow, wants us to be rich and comfortable. A more pressing theological concern is how we can conclude the God of the cross wants us to be happy at all? How do we know this God will care...

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Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

In many ways, I did not like the way this book made me feel. I grew up in the land of rednecks, relatively poor but upwardly mobile. My parents held steady jobs and valued education. Poverty was temporary for us. But (and maybe because they were so upwardly mobile) my parents worshipped the bootstrap gospel. They believed fervently and taught us with equal fervor that our destiny was up to us. “Work hard, study hard and you will get ahead.” I believed it completely. I was the teenager reading Ayn Rand, believing I was in control of my destiny...

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Where is the church right now? Where should it be?

A friend sent me this article by David Frum in the Atlantic. “It makes me wonder,” he wrote, “if we are prepared, as a chuch, to help people confront the challenges of the present day. My fear is that we go on with business as usual, worrying about outlawing abortion, getting school ouches, protecting immigrants, and preserving ‘religious freedom’ without ever seeing the big picture — in which case history will someday wonder ‘where was the church?’ Maybe I am overreacting . . .” Frum’s article is about the slow slide to autocracy we see in President Trump, even...

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