Michael Nugent understands idolatry but gets heaven wrong

The Irish atheist Michael Nugent has some interesting things to say about the use and abuse of faith in a recent opinion piece published in the Irish Times. Faith ceases to be a virtue when it has little connection with facts of reality, he asserts, and points out that placing our faith in secular "gods" (like the banks or capitalism in general) can be as irrational as placing faith in religion or priests. He goes on to make an interesting statement: "all 'gods', whether religious or secular, … [Read more...]

Catholic Teaching on Inter-Religious Dialogue

The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks clearly about the need for positive inter-religious encounters. It sees part of the mission of every Christian to include "a respectful dialogue with those who do not ... accept the Gospel. Believers can profit from this dialogue by learning to appreciate better 'those elements of truth and grace which are found among peoples [of other faiths], and which are, as it were, a secret presence of God'" (CCC, #856).Respectful dialogue and appreciative … [Read more...]

Why do Catholics become Protestant?

National Catholic Reporter has just posted a fascinating article looking at research by the Pew Research Center on why people leave the Catholic Church. This particular article focuses on those who leave Catholicism to enter a mainline Protestant or Evangelical Church. The research suggests that the common reasons believed by those who are ideologically liberal — or conservative — are not all that important. What is important? A sense of being spiritually nurtured.Read the article: The Hidden E … [Read more...]

WSCA Interview Tonight

Tonight I'll be interviewed by Deidre Hebert on WSCA 106.1 FM in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for her "Pagan FM" program. Dee is doing a series on Paganism in conversation with other faiths, and I suspected I was selected to be the Catholic on the show because of my former sojourn in the Pagan community. So the conversation should be interesting: not only about why I am a Catholic, and how I see Catholicism in conversation/dialog with Neopaganism, but also perhaps looking at the dynamics of my own … [Read more...]

A Novice and His Master…

Readers of my blog may find this interesting: the story of Randy De Trinis, who explored monastic life at Gethsemani Abbey in the 1950s under the spiritual guidance of Thomas Merton. Although he did not stay at the monastery, his memoir reveals what an impact Merton had on his young life.In his own words: This is an article by Randy De Trinis originally published in The Merton Seasonal, a quarterly of The International Thomas Merton Society. It is a memoir of my life especially focused on my … [Read more...]

Concerning the Heart and the Skeleton of the Body of Christ

Following last week's post Bhakti Jesus, I've been pondering the relationship between devotionalism and contemplation. In Centering Prayer, Narcissism and Relativism I considered the dangers of a contemplative practice cut off from a devotional framework. For example, engaging in a centering prayer practice without relying on discursive practices like the Daily Office, or even lectio divina, places the seeker at risk of getting lost in a kind of spiritual funhouse where one's own "experiences" … [Read more...]

The Magdalene Relic

My dear readers, the veneration of saints' relics is not a central part of my spirituality, Catholic though I may be. And I'm cynical enough to wonder if any 1st century relic can ever really be accepted at face value (I mean, just how many relics of the "true cross" are there?). However, with this disclaimer and caveat in mind, even I have to say that this is really, really cool:The relic is only in the United States for a limited time and the Monastery is fortunate to host it for a day. … [Read more...]


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