The Church's moral authority is dying (Cristobal Rojas, The First and Last Communion, 1888; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100).

Ireland & Legitimacy: An Ironic Correlation Between Clergy Abuse & Gay Marriage

They say that correlation does not imply causation. However, when you continually see a pattern develop between two seemingly different types of events, you start wondering whether there isn't an internal relation between them. I noticed something of the sort recently.The historian of the Catholic Enlightenment (yes, there was such a thing!), Ulrich Lehner, posted a reflection on the Irish gay marriage referendum. For me it became a catalyst to thinking about the internal relation between … [Read More...]


Does Anyone Still Remember the Einstein vs. Bergson Thrilla in Paris?

Let's take an askew view of Memorial Day by recalling a long forgotten piece of intellectual history.Some of you might vaguely known Henri Bergson through readings of Deleuze imposed upon you by college professors. Bergson, at the start of the 20th century, was once the world's most famous intellectual. Everybody knows Einstein.I know Bergson vaguely through his writings on religion. I'm pretty sure Maritain was a former student of his, but then so was everybody (including T.S. Eliot). … [Read More...]


What Are the 7 Essential Poems for Pentecost? +Pantheon Surprise

Pentecost with all its fire and surprises is conducive to poetic expressions. For whatever reason, as you will see from my list below, Anglican poets (Anglo-Catholic, to be more precise) have mined these themes in an especially rich way. The best thing I can do is get out of the way and give you a foretaste of these poems. I hope they will encourage you to mine the poets for more theological insights.Toward the bottom of the page there is a video of a uniquely Roman celebration involving the … [Read More...]

No atheist song singing was to be found, so this will have to do (Lorenzo Costa, A Concert, 1495; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100).

In Monologue: Did You Notice Atheists Don’t Have No Songs?

In the video below Steve Martin claims atheists might have nothing metaphysically and musically. What a shame.If you come up with that one John Lennon song, you're unimaginative. Plus, one song does not a hymnal make. Nonetheless, I've written a something or two in dialogue with atheism.0. Nether Nye or Gopnik: 10 Atheists Who Engage Religion Charitably1.  Just Another Atheist Jewish Catholic: An Interview With Damon Linker2. Famous Atheists Who Aren’t Atheist: Hold o … [Read More...]

There's no need to be ashamed of the many similarities between the Gospels and myths, but it's important to remember the one key difference, says Girard (Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne, 1523; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100).

René Girard: Is Christianity a Myth?

I spent an afternoon, and the better part of the evening, in the ER yesterday. The whole episode started with an episode of internal bleeding first observed on the porcelain throne. I'll spare you the details.All I'll say is that the bleeding hidden within my innards since Goodness knows when escaped the probing of the doctors. I'll need to go back for further testing. Now, Rene Girard caused a furor when his probing book-length interview, Things Hidden Since the Foundation … [Read More...]

The Lamb is broken (Dieric Bouts, The Feast of the Passover, 1467; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100)

I’d Like to See Douthat Say: Francis, Break My Church Like the Eucharist

Ross Douthat specializes in writing very, very, very long pieces recycling the old secular-sociological theory that conservative churches grow.The essay he wrote for The Atlantic "Will Pope Francis Break the Church?" is based upon this old rational-choice religion theorist thesis of choice. It comes from Dean Kelley's Why Conservative Churches Are Growing, which argues that smaller conservative churches keep more members because they screen out free-riders who take benefits without producing … [Read More...]

The skinniest Trinity/Coronation of all time. Cornbread anyone? (El Greco, Coronation of the Virgin, 1592; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100).

Exposé: The Culture of Deathly Desire Behind Capitalist Anorexia

The rediscovery of imitative (mimetic) desire of nature is one of the most important philosophical-anthropological breakthroughs of the last thirty or so years. Aristotle famously defined human beings as distinctly human because they imitate more than other animal species. Rene Girard, a French thinker who reverted to Catholicism as he was working out the implication of mimetic desire, is the man who single-handedly brought this element of human behavior into clear focus. His theories seemed … [Read More...]

Discord in background to follow on the picnic in the foreground (Paul Schad-Rossa, Paradise, circa 1900; Wikimedia Commons, PD).

Identity-Protective Cognition: Science Finally Discovers Original Sin?!

Aquinas said something to this effect many times in his copious publications:The eternal Father's Word, comprehending all things in his immensity, in order to recall human beings weakened by sin to the height of divine glory, willed to become small by taking on our smallness, not by laying aside his majesty. He compressed the teaching on human salvation in a brief summary for the sake of those who are busy. Conveniently enough, this passage comes from his Compendium on Theology, which … [Read More...]

franz wright god's silence

B.B. and Franz: Drinking To Two Kings Who Died Yesterday

Everybody probably knows by now about B.B. King's death. Fewer of you might be aware that another member of our artistic royalty passed away on the same day: the Catholic poet Franz Wright. Franz too knew the blues. He paints them with Catholic imagery in such a way that it makes you see Catholicism in a new way. It also makes you look at your failings (or are they victories in weakness?) in a new way. His poetry is "complete community of fate with the lost," made all the more difficult … [Read More...]


The Unholy Holiness of the Church Scandalizes Expectations of Purity

I feel responsible for purifying the minds of my readers from the defiling they experienced at the hands of Michael Novak's wayward analogy yesterday: the modern corporation as Isaiah's Suffering Servant (Man of Sorrows).If you haven't seen it, dare you look here?Jody Bottum's An Anxious Age came to my rescue with a quote from Cardinal Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity (by the way, a book banned upon its publication by Cardinal Wyszynski in Warsaw for being too liberal).I've ta … [Read More...]