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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Lent in the Age of the Smartphone

I have been listening to NPR segments on the coming revolution in Smart technology. This usually involves an ecstatic announcer begging me to consider the benefits of texting my coffee-machine from bed, or having eggs delivered by drone when my smart-refrigerator registers a deficit in the egg-tray. If only we could give our mundane lives to machines, the logic goes, we’d have time for really living.It's baloney, and of the floppiest sort. Our use of smart-technology is not some neutral s … [Read more...]

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Faking It in the Age of Identity

In his article, "The Year We Obsessed About Identity", Wesley Morris predicted that our bright, Trump-infested future will be ever more concerned with “defining ourselves.” Christianity Today agreed, and hoped that the faith would benefit from “this cultural importance of finding your “authentic self,” having others validate it, and fully living into it.”In my article about identity, I practice using only legally-sourced stock photos like my boss told me -- so you tell me who you're gonna rea … [Read more...]

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A Small Argument Against Sexual Idolatry

In his essay, “The Church Effeminate,” the late John W. Robbins (who linked all evils to effeminacy, all effeminacy to Rome, and Rome, in turn, to Satan) revives the tract-tradition that titillated Protestants with stories of de Sade style nunneries that would, given a foothold, inevitably crush the American public school system.He recoils with horror that “in effeminate medieval Romanist devotions, Jesus is referred to as Mother. In the Eucharist Jesus nurses his children.” These he desc … [Read more...]

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Those Horribly Sappy Saints

Belief in the Saints, properly understood, is a shocked assent to the fact that an ass like Ignatius, a self-abusing romantic like Francis, and a whore like Augustine all died loving God more than themselves. It’s those who don’t believe in the Saints that demand the greatest saintliness of them. This type imagines to have "exposed" the Saint by pointing out some error, hatred, or insanity glossed over by the hagiographers. But it's an odd sort of exposé, and one the Christian tends to enjoy: It' … [Read more...]

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Rethinking Celibacy in the LGBTQQIP2SAA Age (Part 2)

In my previous post, I tried to show that our age seems to affirm every possible expression of sexuality -- except celibacy.In a way, this contradiction has an obvious root, though it seems mean-spirited to mention. Our sexual ethics shy away from sexuality considered as an act of the person and instead consider sexuality as an identity. In older theories of virtue, who I am is a result of what I do. If I perform acts of courage, I will build within myself the habit of courage, and will the … [Read more...]

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Rethinking Celibacy in the LGBTQQIP2SAA Age (Part 1)

Maybe it was the movie Spotlight. Maybe it was the recent news that the real scandal of “Billy Doe” was when he conned the Archdioceses of Philly out of a cool 5-million. Either way, the question of celibacy is back in the air.It doesn’t matter, statistically speaking, that there is no correlation between the celibate life and sexual abuse. It doesn't matter that, as a 2004 study of the issue showed, children are some 100 times more likely to be sexually abused by a teacher than a priest. It … [Read more...]

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Catholicity and Cultural Appropriation

There is no worse cultural appropriator than the Catholic. It’s as if she’s never even been on Tumblr. She prays on rosary-beads (Italian appropriations of the Eastern European chotki, which is, arguably, a North African appropriation of the Hindu prayer rope). She regularly participates -- without paying a modicum of lip-service to being an imperialist pig -- in Filipino devotions. She worships before Mexican icons -- which include symbolism rudely appropriated from the Aztecs. She hangs out wit … [Read more...]

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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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