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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

Why The Saints Speak of Sex

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...]

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...]