The Radical Reverse Engineering of Pope Francis

"Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun. It shines everywhere."  Pope Francis writes too damn much. It really doesn't matter how much pastoral wisdom and warmth one emanates, a 300-page document will only be read by those who have a career-interest in reading 300 pages -- bloggers, ideologues, headline-hawkers and conspiracy theorists. Given that, for these careerists, What Anyone Says About Same-Sex Attraction will sell more effectively than What Anyone Says About the Divine I … [Read more...]

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The Joy of Love

You ever get that thing where you're asked to review Pope Francis' new exhortation and it's groovy and you like it...but then you remember Pope Benedict......and you're trying to be all, "hey, not every Pope can be a witty, concise, revolutionary theologian" but now all you can think about is Intro to Christianity and Deus Caritas Est and Called to Communion and every essay Ratzinger ever published for Communio......and you've still got 200 pages of Amoris Laetitia to go a … [Read more...]

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Virtual Reality Sucks

NSFWThe Internet is weird. It is home, not just to the ability to order a wife, instagram yourself beheading Shia militants, or preach the Gospel, but also to several millions of images of hyper-sexualized childhood cartoon characters, of whom, for no discernible reason, Sonic the Hedgehog reigns supreme.Why? Seriously, why do we add penises to Pokemon and extramarital acts to Mario? Why do we describe (with all the grammatical fluidity of a drunken 13-year-old with dislocated thumbs) … [Read more...]

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I experienced something and that something was nothing

I'm not trying to be butt about other people's near-death experiences. When I mangle myself in a car or by insulting a bear, I'm sure I'll regret this. But there's a silliness indulged by the skeptic that makes me counter-skeptical, and seeing as this silliness has been well-expressed in a recent news article, I'm going to give it a swing.When one says there is "nothing" after death, they've usually snuck "something" into their "nothing." A recent and briefly-dead fellow said this rather … [Read more...]

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The Case for Complicating Sex

My generation’s sitcoms still refer to sex as a fun, healthy, and fundamentally light activity -- something between a pelvic workout and an exciting way to say, "hey, I totally respect your need for meaningful self-expression." It is, as aging sexologists assure us, a normal behavior that we all ought indulge as a way of "relieving tension." We may agree -- who wouldn’t want it to be true? -- but we nod with the sadness of a generation raised on divorced families, infidelity, immense sexual vio … [Read more...]

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The Humor of Salvation

The Catholic Church is criticized for sneaking an attitude of "merit" into her followers. We believe (so we are informed) that we can "gain" Heaven by some weight of action. The critique is best expressed as a sneer: "What, you confess your sins to the priest and, voila, you're forgiven your murder, theft, child-molestation? Hike a trail, kiss the knee-bone of a Saint, and the grace of God floods into your heart?" Catholics pretend to conquer the Infinite God through some knockout combo of … [Read more...]

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Can a Catholic Feel the Bern?

The question I've been asking myself, watching the 2-year, extra-masturbatory edition of American Idol known as the Presidential Campaign, is, quite simply -- am I feeling the Bern? And in truth, my bitter, cynical, and frozen political fingers are at least luke-warmed by the guy, if only because he seems so bad at being confident, hip, and attractive. And because (and this is an aesthetic judgment) he seems honest. Comically wrong about a few life-or-death issues, but honestly wrong.Now the … [Read more...]

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How Paul Simon Reminded Me That Hey, Jesus is Surprising

I have the misfortune of trying to love philosophy and God at the same time. The difficulties in doing both are boring and well-chronicled. Suffice to say that it wears on my already-weak spirit, to shift from the Bible, wherein God changes his mind, to the classroom, wherein God cannot change. My mind blisters to hear my priest say that God "sings and dances over his children," delights in our works and sorrows over our sins -- only to hear from my professor that God cannot be affected by his c … [Read more...]

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A Brief Aside On the Broadness of the Heart That Fears Hell

Look, gosh-heckity-darnit, I get the critique: Christianity, by introducing the fear of Hell into her believers, is just the worst. Her education has raised up a veritable ocean of sniveling, frightened humanoids who can barely walk to the grocery store without fearing that they are in some way offending a highly-offendable God.But is it all that pathetic to walk into a Wal-Mart, pick out an ice-cream sandwich, and on the way to the checkout, for no real reason, fear that one will spend an … [Read more...]

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That Good Ol’, Life-Affirming, Self-Inflicted Violence

I’ve found that, for all the glories of the Church, there are two which almost universally inspire envy in those outside of her folds: The Sacrament of Penance and the season of Lent. Speak on the life-changing effects of contemplation -- you may get some interest from the Zen kid at the back. Pontificate on the papacy -- you’ll be lucky to piss off a Presbyterian. But tell someone you’re going to confess your sins to a priest, or that, for the next forty days, you’re giving up coffee -- voila, y … [Read more...]

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