Sometimes teaching a freshman-level college course feels like a game of Chinese Whispers. I give the students the information, but the information isn’t the same when I grade their exams. Some of the words are recognizable, but the message got lost. I’m pretty sure that this results from trying to cram thousands of years of history into one study session the night before the exam. The product of these all-night cramming sessions can sometimes be startling and amusing.

Here is a sample of statements in exams and essays from my sections of “Western Civilization I” for the 2014–2015 academic year, along with my reactions.

1. “Ziggurat was a Pharaoh.”

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Actually. Pharaoh is Pharaoh. Ziggurat is a building.

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I’ve got a piece over at The Federalist on Joss Whedon’s run in with some angry Twitter trolls.

Last weekend, thousands of mindless drones appeared out of nowhere, bringing destruction upon the unsuspecting. In their vicious attack, they spoke with one voice, claiming that the violence they wrought was necessary for peace in the world.

Oh. Did you think I was referring to the plot of “Avengers: Age of Ultron”? I was actually referring to the feminist backlash on Twitter against the movie’s director, Joss Whedon. Supposed fans directed thousands of profanity-laced tweets at Whedon, many of which promised him bodily harm. What sparked the outrage? What was his sin against feminism? He ruined their “strong female character,” Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow.

You can read the rest here.

“Jesus: the Fulfillment of the Law”: Sermon that I Preached at Baptist Church of the Redeemer, 4/12/15

Over at The Federalist I respond to Darren Patrick Guerra’s response to my First Things blog post.

Let me begin by saying that I don’t think America is in decline. I did not intend that idea to be part of my argument. On the contrary: America’s relative power in the world is at its height. Of course, one might justly characterize our current geopolitical situation as a worldwide race to the bottom, so perhaps saying America is still on top won’t impress anyone too much.

You can read the rest of it here.

At First Things I did a quick review of John Dominic Crossan’s methodology in How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian. I found his arguments wanting.

When some people read the Bible, they find God to be a little schizophrenic, telling us to stone sinners in one passage and then forgive them in another. Which is the real God? The God who advocates nonviolence or the God who demands the slaughter of his enemies? John Dominic Crossan pretends to help people reconcile this dichotomy in his new book, How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian, but for all his high-mindedness his methodology fails to reconcile anything.

You can read the rest of my piece here.

Laughing at the Death of our Republic

A Theology of Martyrdom