The Summer of our Souls

The day feels like a dream. Soft blue sky with feathers of high cloud. Birds and peepers calling from the pond. The great ocean of fragrant air drifts lazily over greening fields, and sun falls softly on skin.

For months, we have been on guard, shoulders hunched under thick clothes, defending the warmth inside. But today, it seems, the long-rumored miracle has occurred. The wounding winter is in full retreat.

On the fringes of my vision, the world whizzes by. We ride the airplane like a bobsled, my student and I, he in the front seat, focused on his work. Ahead, I can see little, but to the side, there are shimmering silos, rivers ablaze with sunlight that glides alongside as we pass.

The student is very good, as young as I am old. Around and around we go, down to the runway and back into the sky.

The eerie perfection of this morning, the skill of the pilot, the quiet sense that nothing could go wrong on such a day – I defend against this, just as I defend against winter.

Life teaches us the danger of this feeling. Moments of happiness are soon eclipsed by new troubles, and the shock of this is, at first, almost too much to bear. Better to keep up your guard. Better to defend against sorrow, even in times of apparent peace. Better to never be surprised.

But there is something heartbreaking in this, the knowledge that we are never quite safe, doomed by our mortality to the same humiliating end.

If Earth is home, then we are homeless. Spring comes to melt the snow but not our sorrows. We catch a faint scent, a fleeting glimpse, a fading echo of unspeakable beauty, but we find no lasting peace and no real answer to the ache of our longing.

There is no summer for our souls.

I have not given much thought to heaven because I so wanted to find a home on Earth. It has taken me many years to realize that my wounds and my longings are not unique and not the result of circumstances I might somehow change.

For me and for you, however strong or rich, however sick or poor, life will often be cold and lonely and dangerous. Our bodies, however elegant, do not last. Our families and friendships and communities are flawed in painful ways, and we have done our part to make them so.

We still haven’t found what we’re looking for because it is not here.

The offer of heaven is many things, among them proof that our souls are telling the truth. We feel homeless on Earth because Earth is not our home. We were made for a better country, made to be the kind of people who could learn to live in that country.

My own learning is very slow, but on this eerily perfect day, the fragrant air alive with birdsong, I remember who sends the spring – the dazzling One who whispers that he can heal me as surely as he heals the Earth.


He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
-Revelation 21:4

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on Earth… They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
-Hebrews 11:13-16

In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence…

…The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret.

…At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.

C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

The Brains We Are Building

It’s the most important job of each generation, and we get to do it twice.

We are building the brains that will replace us – those of our children but also those vast new mechanical brains that read and remember more than we can imagine.

The brains we build will believe us, at least for a while.

And that might be a problem. Take the recent experience of law professor Jonathan Turley. A recent article composed by the artificial intelligence (AI) tool, ChatGPT “reported on a claim of sexual harassment that was never made against me on a trip that never occurred while I was on a faculty where I never taught. ChapGPT relied on a cited Post article that was never written and quotes a statement that was never made.”

This is a helpful example because the facts can be easily verified. The AI brain lied.

Our Washington representatives have been discussing “the weaponization of Government,” which is indeed a disastrous thing. But, here, we meet something dramatically more disastrous – the weaponization of speech.

Speech is at the heart of human relationships. We speak to transmit. We listen to learn. The invisibly obvious assumption behind every conversation is that the words will be true.

A lie murders speech. It makes a weapon of the hearer’s good faith and uses it against her. It betrays trust and attacks the very possibility of human connection.

And our culture is full of lies.

The brains we build will believe us, at least for a while. The vast mechanical brains of AI will be as truthful as their programmers, and the lies they create will be bigger, faster, and more alluring. The brains of our children will be as discerning as our educational system, which distorts our history and can no longer tell a girl from a boy.

It’s the most important job of each generation, and we’re failing at it twice, in heartbreaking ways that may cripple future generations.

Let’s hope their precious brains don’t believe us for long.


“He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
-Jesus, describing Satan in John 8.

More about Professor Turley and AI:

Other People’s Children

I wasn’t the smartest kid on the farm, but I noticed something right away. Farmers were often permitted the astonishing privilege of feeding and cultivating plants – merely because they planted them.

In my youth and inexperience, it never occurred to me that neighbors might find these actions brash or unfair. There seemed a logical connection between planting and cultivating – between nativity and nurture.

But things were different then. Culture was largely focused on family, and family was a scandalously narrow thing: One man who wanted to be manly. One woman who liked being a woman. His fascination with her femininity. Her love for his masculinity. Their permanent union. Their desire for children.

Of course, we know better than all that. Gender means nothing now but also everything. Our concept of marriage is remarkably inclusive, though less commonly exclusive. Current ideas about family are infinitely broad but often sterile.


Let that word lie dead on the page.

Every ideology – whether democracy or CRT, monogamy or transsexuality – is one generation from extinction. Every ideology needs children to carry their ideas forward, even ideologies that abort children.

If our grandparents had lived in this brave new world, they might have become anything – with the possible exception of grandparents. We, the proud vanguards of new society, are really the offspring of old society. Of – dare I say it? – that old-fashioned menace known as heterosexuality. Our grandparents’ marriages were narrow, but their love was broad, bridging the mysterious gulf between male and female. And their love was fertile.

And that is the agricultural significance of this moment. If there are now (as I just read) 81 genders, that makes 6,561 possible combinations in a two-person marriage. That’s a dazzling array of infertility, layered atop a fanatical insistence upon the disposability of unborn children. If these ideas about sexuality and culture are to survive, they need far more children than their supporters will produce.

They need other people’s children.

It’s no coincidence that schools are increasingly focused on social (and not academic) conditioning. While many – and likely most – teachers serve from genuine concern for their students, there is increasing pressure upon the educational system to proselytize. From presentations by drag queens to salacious library books to privacy policies barricading parents from information about their minor children, schools at all levels perform a sort of conversion therapy, normalizing practices and values previously considered abnormal.

And it’s no coincidence that the school attacked last week was Christian, given the stubborn Christian confidence that gender is a good and clear gift of a competent and loving God. Schools, churches, and families that reproduce this confidence in their children represent a profound threat to an increasingly hateful and violent opposition.

In this bizarre moment of sexual confusion, traditional families are being used to serve an agricultural function, giving birth, food, and clothing to little bodies whose minds are to be properly filled by someone else.

Our children will eventually decide what is true and important for American culture, but – unlike the many generations before us – we are being told to surrender the idea that parents are best qualified to prepare them for this responsibility.

Let’s say no.

The Lonely Voice

There is a collective chuckle from the crowd as he stands to speak, and, as they expect, he spouts the same old tripe. They exchange knowing glances and shake their heads, amused by his absurdity. For twenty years, this routine is repeated: His crazy insistence and their incredulous murmurs. But on February 23, 1807, there is another vote, and tears rush down his tired face. The slave trade has been abolished, and he has won.

Along the way, he has been mocked as a dwarf and a fraud. The King of England branded him a hypocrite. All for saying what, at some level, they all knew to be true.

I thought of this during the local Board of Education meeting the other night. There was, as the saying goes, an elephant in the room. Every seat was filled, more people stood along the walls, and still more watched from outside.

There was a buzz when the time came for public comment. Everyone knew the topic at hand. A few people rose to speak, and they all agreed. A loud clatter of applause followed every speech.

And then another name was called, and the room grew quiet. I heard a chuckle as she stood, and I noticed the grim look on her face as she began the long walk to the podium. She has taken this walk before, and it is always the same. Incredulous murmurs from the audience. Knowing looks and shaking heads. They all know what she will say, and she is quite alone.

Well, she said her piece, and it was a sad piece. The practice that grieves her, that has set her on that lonely walk through an angry room, over and over again, seemed to her audience a small thing, much as slavery once seemed a small thing.

So, how do we know a small thing from a big thing? How do we recognize the crazy insistence that might be telling an unwelcome truth?

We might begin by noticing the personal cost of that lonely walk, the remarkable courage required to stand alone and say what a roomful of people don’t want to hear.

We might also consider the question being asked – in this case, whether school libraries should provide sexually-explicit materials – and decide if the question deserves a hearing.

It is a strange fact that the audience is often louder than the speaker; we tend to hear as a group and respond as a group, with a clear sense of what the group will find acceptable. It takes courage to listen – to really listen – to hear the lonely voice above the offended audience and take a moment to consider what is being said.

I don’t know if Stefanie‘s question will get a hearing, but I hope our community will recognize the courage and sacrifice she demonstrates in continuing to ask it.

William Wilberforce led a long and determined campaign to eliminate slavery in England. For more information, see

The New Evangelism

American culture is moving toward a state of equity, increasingly sensitive to personal injuries and supportive of personal freedoms. Within this culture, there is a shrinking minority that, in some sense, identifies with Jesus Christ. Within that group, there is a still smaller minority that wants to impose the ethical teachings of Jesus upon a secular culture.

This is, at least, the standard narrative regarding culture and Christianity.

In this telling of the story, it is culture that sets people free. Christianity is considered a private ritual and tolerated so long as it does not interfere with public affairs.

The success of this narrative is clear. The role of Christianity in America has never been smaller. When the name of Jesus is invoked in public, it does not typically refer to the historical person, but to a vague modern caricature, rather like Santa Claus.

While these changes are widely described as progress, the story has a few problems. In fact, life in America is not going so well.

Rather than an increase in personal freedoms, we see a strange decline. Our speech is no longer free. Censorship and false reporting are common. Our streets are less safe, and our conversations are less kind. Our leaders are less competent and less truthful, asserting new powers that contradict law and reason.

American culture speaks fondly of freedom but grows steadily less free.

This happens because, contrary to the narrative, our culture is not moving away from religion, but merely replacing one religion with another. American culture is an increasingly jealous and coercive ethical system, imposing itself on everyone within reach. What we call cancel culture is the new evangelism, with its gospel of condemnation, its altar call to submission, and its sacrament of human sacrifice. In the new religion, you might choose the winning side, but you will never be free.

America began with the Christian idea that “all men are created equal,” which provided a foundation for human dignity and freedom. We have descended to the assumption that men are not created and, quite possibly, not men.

If Christians exhibit a peculiar resistance to this culture, it is because culture exhibits a peculiar resistance to Christianity. It does not ignore Christ as a discarded myth but reviles him as an imminent threat.

A man who robs banks might be comprehensible as a non-Christian who at least has some fun. Not so, the doctor who spends his day snuffing out the lives of healthy children, or the angry crowds who celebrate this macabre event. Or the historian whose theories require the rewriting of history. Or the man or woman who thinks all 30 trillion cells in their own body must be mistaken.

The hallmark of contemporary American culture is not progress or even fun, but a shoddy mangling of beautiful things we don’t understand and cannot replace.

Our freedom from Christianity has left us prisoners, for it was our founders’ confidence in God’s authority over powerful men that set common men free – a confidence that even common men are not common. We traded one just and merciful king for an ocean of selfish and incompetent bosses, yet seem surprised by the disappointing result.

American culture is moving away from a state of equity, away from the idea that people have inherent value, and away from the confidence that anything can simply be true and honorable. To the advocates of this new religion, Jesus is no myth. He is an imminent threat, and their hatred for him is evident in their joyless mangling of the world he loves.