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cover of John Locke book A Letter Concerning Toleration

Defining Liberalism, part two

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So. What is liberalism? The Online Etymology Dictionary tells us this: Latin liberalis “noble, gracious, munificent, generous,” literally “of freedom, pertaining to or befitting a free person,” from liber “free, unrestricted, unimpeded; unbridled, unchecked, licentious.” mid-14c., “generous,” also “nobly born, noble, free;” from late 14c. as “selfless, magnanimous, admirable.” Liberal was used 16c.-17c. as a term of reproach with the… Read More »Defining Liberalism, part two

Ocre cave painting depicting human figures and animals

Painting the Walls

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Suppose for a moment that every human being is an artist. For the sake of argument, let’s be specific — a visual artist painting on a cave wall, as our human ancestors did forty and fifty thousand years ago.

an illuminated "yes"

An Introduction to Humanism: the Yes-Way Way

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Humanists propose that all religious traditions from all places and times have sought a better understanding of the world in order to improve human flourishing. Theologies and philosophies are, on this view, attempts to use human reason and creativity to improve the human condition.

Hands holding soil

Labor Day, with Bread and Roses

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As I write this, on Labor Day weekend of 2022, unemployment is at a fifty-year low. Sections of restaurants are closed due to staff shortages; businesses are opening late and closing early due to staffing shortages. Some small businesses are giving up and closing their doors because they can’t find enough people. Why the sudden shortage of labor? As we come… Read More »Labor Day, with Bread and Roses

neon sign reading "super natural"

Natural Supernaturalism and Transcendentalism, Gotten Backwards

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There are lots of things to respect and lots of things to criticize about Enlightenment thought. But one thing that often gets forgotten in our contemporary dismissal of the Enlightenment is that criticism of the ideas of the Age of Enlightenment is nothing new.

chain mail armor

Progressive Religion: It’s Time to Read the Room

The Scopes trial underlined for many — both religious liberals and religious traditionalists — that natural selection would be the wedge that permanently split American religious thinking into two broad — and most likely irreconcilable — camps.

an illustration from the middle ages. a fanciful whale with a sailor building a fire on its back

Lessons on Illusion from the Books of Beasts

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Medieval Europeans believed that God revealed valuable lessons in morality to humanity through nature itself. A very popular way of teaching those lessons — through a bit of church intervention — were books called Bestiaries, or “Books of Beasts.” Now, I hasten to add that by “nature” and “lessons of morality” I mean the often imaginary nature created by priests and monks… Read More »Lessons on Illusion from the Books of Beasts