Readers occasionally approach me with requests for links to the articles I wrote for the Chuck Colson Center. From 2011 to 2014, I maintained columns at the Center, usually supplying three articles a month. These articles endeavored to apply the Christian worldview to areas that included art, music, culture, philosophy, relationships and theology.
Earlier this year the Center had to migrate their content over to a new server, and unfortunately they had a limited amount of time in which to do so. Lots of archives were lost during this process, including all of my articles. A number of readers have been asking if there is any way they can access these articles, especially my 7-part series on Nominalism. My response has always been, “Sorry, they’re lost.”
A couple days ago I found an external hardrive in one of my drawers that had a complete set of all my Colson Center articles as Word documents. Over the next few days I will be endeavoring to upload these articles to this blog, retroactively dating them to the time they were originally published. When this process is complete (be patient and give me to the end of the week), you should be able to access all the articles via this portal. I can’t promise that all the internal links will work, but over time I hope to update all the URLs.
Oh, and by the way, the reason I stopped writing for the Colson Center was purely practical – we did not have a falling out, nor did they become suspicious of me following my conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy in 2013. I remain on good terms with the people at the Center. However, in 2014 I was swamped with graduate work at King’s College London and was not able to maintain such an intense writing schedule. A couple years later when I was in a position to resume the column, the Center was no longer able to pay their authors. Meanwhile, as my professional interests shifted to other areas, I found that this blog provided the best outlet for my ongoing reflections on key issues.
Anyway, here is the link. As I get articles uploaded, I will change the title in the list to bold.
On July 21, 1944, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was in the sick bay of the Tegel prison listening to the Nazi radio.
The Lutheran minister had been sent to prison the year before after the Gestapo discovered a financial irregularity stemming from an operation smuggling Jews into Switzerland. Though a prisoner of the Third Reich, Bonhoeffer knew he was safe as long as the Nazis did not discover the full extent of his seditious activities. He also knew that long-laid plans to assassinate Adolf Hitler were about to come to fruition. Any day he hoped to receive word that Hitler had been killed.
Throughout his book Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica frequently returns to the theme that when we think negatively about another person, we actually injure them spiritually. Similarly, we can be injured by other people’s antagonistic thoughts about ourselves. Here is the solution to both these problems, in Elder Thaddeus’ own words:
Your thoughts are burdened because you are influenced by the thoughts of your fellow men. Pray to the Lord that He might take this burden from you. These are the thoughts of others which differ from yours. They have their plan, and their plan is to attack you with their thoughts. Instead of letting go, you have allowed yourself to become part of their plan, so of course you suffer. Had you ignored the attack, you would have kept your peace. They could have thought or said anything at all about you, yet you would have remained calm and at peace. Soon all their anger would have died down, like a deflated balloon, because of the pure nad peaceful thoughts that would have come from you. If you are like that, calm and full of love, if all you think are good and kind thoughts, they will stop warring against you in their thoughts and will not threaten you anymore. But if you demand an eye for an eye, that is war. Where there is war there can be no peace. How can there be peace on a battlefield, when everyone is looking over their shoulders and anticipating a surprise attack from the enemy.
From Part 4 of my interview with Dr. Taylor on Brain Fitness:
“Without intellectual curiosity learning is boring. Without intellectual curiosity the justification for knowledge ultimately rests in pragmatic concerns outside the material itself, with the result that knowledge is reduced to a utilitarian tool. Intellectual curiosity saves us from the type of servile mind that sees knowledge as only useful for material gain. That’s why intellectual curiosity is freeing, dignifying and humanizing. Intellectual curiosity arises naturally from the best education, since the finest education is able in instill in us the sense that life is intensely interesting and worthwhile to study for its own sake.
But intellectual curiosity is also very practical since it is closely connected with memory. When knowledge ceases to be interesting for its own sake then we find it difficult to remember the content. The brain is very efficient so that when something is boring for us the brain gets the message ‘This isn’t worth remembering, I need to conserve my resources for stuff that is more interesting.’
We tend to think that a positive outlook results from external circumstances and forces that are outside of us. Though we might not actually express it so crudely, we intuitively assume that peace of mind results from getting what we want. While this may be partially true in some cases, it is more often the case that peace of mind results from the mindset we choose to adopt about our livesirrespective to what is happening around us.
Few virtues are as misunderstood today as the virtue of courage.
Courage is the act of choosing to press ahead in full knowledge that there may be danger ahead. It is this awareness of danger that differentiates genuine courage from mere naivete. A naive person may appear courageous simply because he underestimates the threat he is facing, like the fool in Proverbs 14:16 who “rages and is self-confident.”
But just as courage should not be confused with naivete, it should also not be confused with mere bravado. A person who overestimates his natural strength may appear brave in the face of threats, like the fool in Proverbs 27:12 who refuses to take refuge in the face of danger. Having an unrealistic perception of one’s own natural strength absolves one from needing to practice courage since it minimizes the reality of the danger one is actually facing. Only a weak person can have courage in the face of danger, for courage can only exist when there is the possibility of harm, hurt or failure.
Last week I decided to apply for a cleaning job someone told me about. Given that my work as a writer has recently slowed down, I was eager at the prospect of some extra income.
Cleaning might be just the right sort of part-time job for me, I thought, since I could listen to audio books and courses while I worked. It would essentially mean that I could be paid to do the thing I loved most of all: listen to courses and audio books!
Thus it was that last Saturday I excitedly made my way to a spot in downtown Coeur d’Alene where I had arranged to be interviewed for a cleaning job. All I had been told is that I should meet a man named Igor, who organized janitorial crews for companies and had been having difficulty finding workers for one of his corporate clients.
As I approached the place I was supposed to rendezvous with Igor, my heart sank: it was in the worst part of town—the part of Coeur d’Alene where respectable people never venture. Coeur d’Alene has a law against loitering, but in this area the law was apparently not being enforced. A crowd of desolates and drunks eyed me suspiciously as I approach Igor’s office.
When Odysseus turns from Calypso and her promise of immortality, he chooses to embrace the distinctively human virtues that make him vulnerable to weakness and pain.
Once Albert Einstein was traveling on a train from Princeton when the conductor came down the aisle punching tickets. When the conductor reached Einstein, the great physicist reached into his vest pocket, but couldn’t find his ticket. So he reached into the pockets of his pants, but still he couldn’t find the ticket.
The conductor said, “Dr. Einstein, it’s ok. I know who you are.”
As if not hearing these words, Einstein continued searching for the missing ticket. As he opened his briefcase to look inside, the conductor said again, “Dr. Einstein, we all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Please don’t worry about it.”
Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets, but behind him he could see the scientist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for the missing ticket.
Rushing back to him, the conductor said, “Please, please Dr. Einstein, do not worry. I’m sure you bought a ticket. We know who you are and really, it’s no problem.”
Einstein stood up, looked the conductor in the eye and replied, “Young man, I too, know who I am. What I do not know is where I am going.”