Sexuality and the Land


The following is a selection of an essay written for the recent Winter issue of the Slovenian cultural journal Razpotja, which focused on topics in sustainability. If you want the whole essay, you have to learn Slovenian. The essay owes a sizable debt to the author and environmentalist Wendell Berry and his marvelous pieces Feminism, the Body, and the Machine, and The Body and the Earth.Sexuality and the land both have a life of their own. The land has its soil, weather, insects, and idiosyn … [Read more...]

The Difference Between a Martyr and a Victim

The martyr is not glorified for the abuse, torture, or deprivation she suffers, as if we held her up in awe of what was taken from her. No, the martyr is something essentially positive, from the Greek martur -- a witness, a pointing-towards, an icon and profound evidence of the immense value and the unspeakable worthiness of that for which she dies.The martyr, then, is not the victim. The victim is referred to some enemy (a victim of a freak boating accident, of the measles, of terrorism) whi … [Read more...]

Worms, foul-smelling liquids, and filthy shreds of cloth

The Christian is hooked on either side and stretched between two disparate statements about his death: "Remember that you are dust" -- muttered by Catholic priests as they draw a cross of ashes on the believing brow -- and "Remember, O Christian, your dignity" -- the mighty words of Pope Saint Leo the Great, extolling us to marvel over the fact that we are destined to live forever, sharing "in God’s own nature.""...and to dust you shall return," the priests finish, pushing us into the deep da … [Read more...]

Fury and Catholicity

ISIS beheaded 21 Coptic Christians. Surely it is time to dust off the war psalms in our breviaries, to pray the prayer to St. Michael, and to make those fervent supplications we usually tuck away to remain inoffensive within this Pluralistic Disneyland we call modernity -- "Save me, my God! For you strike the jaws of all my foes; you break the teeth of the wicked."We need a violent stirring of the spirit, not for the sake of breathing life into some brutish, martial Christianity (which u … [Read more...]

Insulting ISIS

There is no post-religious rhetoric that can properly meet and combat an offense such as ISIS. What shall we say, that they hate freedom? That they have a flagrant disregard for human rights? That they are guilty of war crimes? It would be true, of course, but true in a language that that bears no weight on the theocratic perversion that currently struts its self-obsessed pageantry on the international stage.How, in short, does one properly insult ISIS? With bombs, yes, but I want an answer … [Read more...]

The Difference Between a Renaming and a Baptism

In my last essay, The Blessings of Secularism, I received a blessing of some excellent secular criticism, indeed, a veritable back-hand. I was preaching the fact that Catholicism welcomes the convert into a world of primary meaning by attaching things with their meaning, giving New Life to Easter Eggs, 'God be by you' to 'goodbye,' 'Salvation' to 'salut,' and a Holy Day to our holidays. I imagined, briefly, a few new and improved "Keep Christ in Christmas" campaigns, slogans crotchety Christians … [Read more...]

The Blessings of Secularism

I first cared about being Catholic, not out of any profound love for the person of Christ, but out of a profound distaste for my other options. That Christ came, died, rose, and established a Church under the authority of the apostles united under Peter -- I'm still learning it. That I'd sooner cut my own toes off than live life as, say, a self-proclaimed 'freethinker' of the Reddit school -- that was an immediate judgment of taste, something akin to not wanting to wear Crocs or dye caramel tips … [Read more...]


Son: Why bother with the boring reading, the difficult thinking, the never-ending study and the tortuous editing -- why bother with work when a cup of coffee, a little luck and the right mood produces the best writing I've written?Father: Work is compost. It cannot make you great. It can only make you ready. It stinks, but in its stinking you'll become fertile soil for the seeds of inspiration contained in your coffee, your good mood and your rare moments of luck. … [Read more...]

How to Kill a Community: Lessons From Mediocre Rappers


NSFW, but neither is the fact that you're on this blog at work in the first place.Almost anything we can be proud to call American came from poverty. Jeans came from miners, bluegrass from the British immigrants of Appalachia, barbecue was popularized by impoverished Southern Blacks who couldn't afford expensive cuts of meat, and blues, jazz, and rock n' roll -- those uniquely American art forms I was so proud to hear playing in the bars of Budapest, Vienna, and Rome -- rose up from the … [Read more...]

Selling Our Sins


There is a tragic aura to the young man driving around my neighborhood in Steubenville, Ohio, pushing heroin out to "customers" at street corners, his barely drivable car decked out with "playboy" stickers, rims, window-tint, and a rusted-out body going into seizures with the bass of a song produced in California, repeating "it's all about the money." The tragedy is not that he is poor, but that he is very, very rich.Steinbeck says......and this sounds like a pleasant hurrah for American … [Read more...]