Is it only a one-way street?

The Veils of Separation Drop

In a curious reversal of the Parable of the Good Samaritan I picked up an old helping friend last night: Martin Laird's A Sunlit Absence.The last few months have left me exhausted (more than usual) by persistent self-doubts, anxieties, career stress, and money worries. You know things are not going well when someone like myself who churns out TOP10 book lists with abandon loses the motivation to pick up a book. And so I turned, once more, to a book!I figured I would give reading at least … [Read More...]


Disproportionate Influence: Catholicism and the #HongKongProtests

This is the second installment of my interview with Dr. Justin Tse. It concentrates upon the Catholic Church’s complicated role in Hong Kong’s politics. A link to the first installment of this interview can be found here. How much influence does the Catholic Church (as an institution, but also individual believers) have on what goes on in Hong Kong politics? It would seem to be a marginal player when only 5 percent of the population is Catholic.This is a great social scientific question. Rec … [Read More...]

Church History: Why can't we embrace it?

Synod14: It’s Déjà vu All Over Again!

The Synod reporting has been nothing short of apocalyptic. And I do love it in a Rabelaisian Catholic sort of way. For example, The National Catholic Register's write up is another sure sign, aside from all the Medjugorje idolatry, that the publication is getting comfortable with wearing the tinfoil hat. In particular, the piece Evidence Emerges of an Engineered Synod borrows the tone of an X-Files script:More and more there is talk in Rome that this synod is being engineered by groups in … [Read More...]

We're talking about a curiously Catholic-inflected Zen here.

Cardinal Zen and the Art of the Hong Kong Protests

Since the Synod is occupying everyone's minds, including my own, I thought I'd change things up a bit with an interview about the Hong Kong Occupy Movement. I mean, no matter if the Synod will unleash the apocalypse, the world will still go on (at least for a little bit).Now, you might be aware of the Hong Kong Protests from brief news-reports, but how much do you really know about what is going on? Did you know religion is front and center in these events in lots of interesting ways? For … [Read More...]

The Golden Legend described the church as an extended family. There is wisdom in that for our times. (Menabuoui, detail of Paradiso from the Padova Baptistry, 1386).

Synod14: The Church Needs to Replace the Family

When grandiose Church events such as the Synod on the Family roll around I look forward to rolling my eyes as the conservatives freak out about the possibility of radical change, whereas the liberals freak out about the possibility of radical change not being made. The real problems usually reside elsewhere.My unreasonable attempt at adjusting to being Mr. Mom, blogging, and job hunting (all at the same time) has prevented me from taking an in-depth look at what's going to be considered. But … [Read More...]

This painting seems a bit too cheerful for a Rose cover. But if it's a Van Gogh then it also secretly shares in a history of suffering similar to hers.

Every Gun n’ Rose Has Its Thorn

After driving Dominik to kindergarten I took the girls for a spin around the block in the vain hope that they would fall asleep. Along the way I noticed a man who cultivates the Slash, guitarist of Guns n' Roses, look. I see him frequently around the University District and Ravenna pinning concert flyers to walls and posts. He has the hair, the nose piercing, the aviator sunglasses (sometimes worn at night), even the huge Victorian steampunk top-hat.There is something surreal about … [Read More...]

Photo by Caner Başer.

Travel Elegy

Wislawa Szymborska, "Travel Elegy" from Poems New and CollectedEverything's mine though just on loan, nothing for the memory to hold, though mine as long as I look.Memories come to mind like excavated statues that have misplaced their heads.From the town of Samokov, only rain and more rain.Paris from Louvre to fingernail grows web-eyed by the moment.Boulevard Saint-Martin some stairs leading into a fadeout.Only a bridge and a half from Leningrad of the … [Read More...]

There is no better image of futility and delusion than Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, or Westerners calling upon the Muslim leadership to speak up.

Talking At the Muslim Leadership Is Futile

Leading up to the coalition of the willing waging war against ISIS much noise was made about getting the Muslim leadership to speak up. Whenever there is any violent crime committed by someone suspected of being Muslim, like the recent beheading in Oklahoma, there are predictable calls for the Muslim leadership to speak up.There is one major problem with this tried and found wanting method: there is nobody on the other side of the phone to pick up. It is not that they are sitting by the p … [Read More...]

This year's Jefferson lecturer with Uncle Walker.

Walker Percy Fan Delivers Jefferson Lecture on Uncle Walker!

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the famous Walker Percy Jefferson Lecture "The San Andreas Fault in the Modern Mind." The lecture remains the best introduction into the heart of Percy's writings and preoccupations. It is his little summa where he lays out the problem of communication between humanist and scientific forms of knowledge.The lecturer this year was Walter Isaacson head of the Aspen Institute, former chairman of CNN, and once the managing editor of Time. He is perhaps … [Read More...]

War requires clearly defined enemies according to Schmitt.

Psychopolitics: Schmitt, Bush’s Iraq Mess, and the Saddam Solution

  Carl Schmitt who was one of those extremely bad Catholics like Heidegger who played a part in Hitler's regime. In some circles Schmitt became known as the "Crown Jurist of the Third Reich."This arch-conservative thinker ironically made a comeback through the New Left. You can see his influence on Derrida (that Catholic phenomenology enabler) in his The Politics of Friendship; for Schmitt politics is the process of the state creating a friend/enemy dichotomy by … [Read More...]