How to Speak About Hell

The logic of the Inferno has always seemed simple enough. It arrives without drama, by way of a boring syllogism. I am made to be with God in an eminently personal relationship. As with all loving relationships, I must freely enter into it. Being-coerced or being unable to do anything but love God contradicts the nature of love. I can no more be "forced to love" then draw a square circle or rip out the hair of a bald man. The possibility of a loving relationship with God necessarily includes the … [Read more...]

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Who Said It About Sexuality, Slavoj Žižek or Your Catholic Mom

You might think your Catholic mother has nothing in common with the Marxist intellectual and legendary interpreter of Jacques Lacan's psychoanalysis -- Slavoj Žižek. But give the latter a microphone and the former a third glass of wine and the two start to sound fantastically similar on issues of human sexuality. So without further ado, and in the spirit of celebrating the developing illicit love-relation between postmodern philosophy and the Church, I give you the quiz: Who said it, Žižek or you … [Read more...]

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Language of Love, Language of Rights

For all the warm feelings that squelch up into consciousness whenever we mention human rights (can you feel all 30 of them lodged in you chest?), and despite the festivity with which we annually gift the world with a New Universal Human Right (you just didn't know you had it yet, morons) -- the language of rights tends to make us miserable.A friendship described in terms of rights is far from friendly. I could only consider myself as having "the right to be respected" and my friend as having … [Read more...]

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Please: Don’t Respect My Beliefs

Respect for other beliefs, tolerance of other religions, acceptance of other cultures -- these doctrines are usually sugar-sweet forms of violence. This seems to me the only adequate explanation as to why our age is simultaneously respectful and racist; liberal and segregated; proud of diversity and incapable of actually enjoying diverse company outside of mandatorily diverse institutions -- a schizophrenic personality that imagines itself open to the Other in all her differences while fearing, … [Read more...]

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The Other Benedict Option

When I first heard the term "Benedict Option" I thought it referred to the popular movement to elect Benedict Cumberbatch as the leader of the Free World, and as such, was all about it.Upon further research, it appears that the Benedict Option is the plan to "construct local forms of community as loci of Christian resistance" against a corrupt and immoral American empire, and as such, I'm iffy. (I don't like to call it "wrong," because its basic tenets are what the Catholic Church has always … [Read more...]

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Making Worship Hip

Americana Christianity is all a-flutter about losing numbers -- or something -- a crisis to which pastors are responding by "making Christianity hip." This, at least, is the conclusion of the New York Times article Los Angeles Churches Make Worship...Hip? which, you guessed it, prescribes Hipness as the cure for Dwindling Congregation Syndrome -- a process which seems to involve having Justin Bieber play at your mega-church.All of which is bemusing to the Catholic, who knows that the … [Read more...]

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Why “Getting Along” Isn’t Working

These violent, extremist, and racist days need to try the discussion of our differences all over again. No dumbass bumper-stickers this time. To tell the Jew that his culture is “worthy of respect” and “as valuable as any other culture” is to insult him in a far worse manner than telling him that the Jews can piss off. Being Jewish is precisely a being set-apart, being a chosen race and a royal priesthood. The recapitulation of the Jew as dwelling within the same, homogeneous value-status as … [Read more...]

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ISIS, Liberal Democracy, and the Holy Catholic Church: A Call to Arms

We strike a man's face when we can no longer strike his heart. We put bullets in the minds we cannot change. Violence begins where argument fails, and the fact that liberal governments can only meet ISIS's terrorist attacks with bombing campaigns indicates that the two entities stand across an absolute impasse over which no dialogue, discourse, or insult can reach.ISIS and liberal democracies hold radically opposed theologies. They believe incompatible doctrines of the Divine. Only b … [Read more...]

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Erotic Atheism

"The desire for God is written in the human heart" (CCC 27) but knowledge of God isn't written in the human head. There are "converging and convincing arguments" (CCC 28) for the existence of God, but the Church roots their efficacy in a prior desire for the divine. She says, with Augustine, "I loved thee before I knew thee."  As infants, we do not know the mother we are born to. She is food, drink, shelter, warmth, safety, affection, comfort, touch. She is the fulfillment of our needs. She i … [Read more...]

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Cocaine/Communion: The Holy Contradictions of David Ramirez

David Ramirez is too sharp a songwriter to serve as a mere springboard for theological discussion. It would be a horrible kind of lust to strip his lyrics down to their "Christian" elements while ignoring their total depth. But his latest record, Fables, tackles a particular theological concern with a hammer, and it would be insane to review it without asking its question -- where, when, and how is communion possible?Ramirez is prone to reflection on the craft of songwriting itself, and the h … [Read more...]

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