Half A League Onward

Books, essays & insight

Muslim Leaders: Want Your People to Please God? Try a Little Mercy.

Dear Muslim Leaders:

You may not have noticed it, but recent news items out of several Islamic countries recounting efforts to enforce religious laws have been horrifying.

In Iran, several young men and women were jailed for making a video of themselves dancing together. In Sudan, a wife and mother has been sentenced to die for being a Christian. And in Pakistan, yet another young wife and expectant mother was stoned to death allegedly for the sake of her family’s honor.

Continue reading “Muslim Leaders: Want Your People to Please God? Try a Little Mercy.”

Classic Sci Fi Goes Deep

By Dave Dentel

Note: This was originally posted December 24, 2012.

When a good friend agreed to introduce me to classic science fiction I had long ignored, I didn’t realize how quickly his generosity would deliver a brilliant pay-off.

Robert A. Heinlein’s 1941 tale delves into the nature of both religious and materialistic inquiry.Also worth reading:
“How Star Wars Ruined Sci Fi”

Already I’ve encountered a Heinlein story with surprising insight into one of my favorite nonfiction topics—the intersection of science and faith.

While it’s no fable of intelligent design, Robert A. Heinlein’s 1941 tale “Universe” certainly delves into the nature of both religious and materialistic inquiry. In fact, the adventure aspect of the story serves as a backdrop for exploring how human beings comprehend reality and their purpose in it.

Continue reading “Classic Sci Fi Goes Deep”

Lawyer’s Book Warns of Coming Police State

The government is watching you. In fact, the government may very well be watching you read this review.

To be fair, in his new book author John Whitehead isn’t quite so extreme in describing the threat to liberty posed by overreaching authorities. But he comes close.

Continue reading “Lawyer’s Book Warns of Coming Police State”

Atheist’s Book Can’t Break Religion’s Spell

A Review by Dave Dentel

Note: This was originally posted in 2006. Dennett’s book was one of the first I read as research for my own work, The God Imperative.

To anyone familiar with his career, it’s no surprise that Darwinist philosopher Daniel C. Dennett has a problem with religion. What is surprising, however, is the ardor with which Dennett delivers what Richard John Neuhaus of First Things characterizes as a “mugging of religion” in his latest book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.

Continue reading “Atheist’s Book Can’t Break Religion’s Spell”

How Jesus Belongs to the World—in Eight “Episodes”

Book Review

The faith and church founded by Jesus Christ not only is global in its reach, but is intertwined with the histories of the various continents. These facts are borne out by Martin Marty’s brief but insightful book, The Christian World.

Continue reading “How Jesus Belongs to the World—in Eight “Episodes””

For Us, Christmas is Still a Festival of Word and Song

Note: I entered this in my workplace essay contest and won a Starbuck’s card. There was literally no competition—mine was the only submission.

We probably first heard it on the radio during a Christmas Eve roadtrip to the in-laws. It must have seemed especially soothing, because it has become one of our favorite Yuletide traditions.

Still, why my wife and I love an anachronism like Cambridge University’s annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is not easy to articulate.

Continue reading “For Us, Christmas is Still a Festival of Word and Song”

On Sale: The God Imperative

Is religion a lie? Is God an illusion caused by a virus of the mind? Several best-selling atheists authors think so. And they claim science supports them, citing in particular the theory of evolution and its implicit agnosticism.

Continue reading “On Sale: The God Imperative”

Ham-Nye Debate: Why Secular Origin Story Leaves Believers Cold

By Dave Dentel

Last week’s debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye on the merits of creationism reminded me of a gag from the 1960s television spy spoof Get Smart.

Continue reading “Ham-Nye Debate: Why Secular Origin Story Leaves Believers Cold”

Blog at

Up ↑