Can Atheists Make Us All Sing “Kumbaya”?

To the average Irish person, it might come as a surprise that William III of England, whose invasion of Ireland and victory at the Boyne paved the way for Protestant hegemony throughout the country, acted with tacit Papal blessing. The Catholic King James II, William’s rival, was an ally of Louis XIV; the Papal States, [Read More…]

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Chaput and the Republic of Chickens

These days, Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput has been showing signs of America fatigue. “Democracy,” he told an audience at the Napa Institute this past July 26th, “is not an end in itself.” The mainstreaming of American Catholicism hasn’t made America more Christian, much less more Catholic; instead, it’s weakened Catholic witness. “Sooner or later,” Chaput [Read More…]

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Romoeroticism for Straight Guys

In Crisis Magazine, Eve Tushnet argues that the Catholic Church has something unique to offer gays and lesbians besides guilt and self-loathing. For one, it offers physicality — bells, smells, images and “the hint of cannibalism” in the Eucharist — bound to appeal to those persecuted for their bodies’ own strange habits. For lesbians in [Read More…]

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Could Loser-Shaming Prevent Future Auroras?

In an episode from South Park’s sixth season, Butters, embittered over his demotion from Kenny’s replacement to supporting character, declares war on humanity. Forging a suit of armor out of tinfoil, he adopts an alter ego, Professor Chaos, and proceeds to bring what he calls “destruction and doom,” to the community. Fortunately for the community [Read More…]

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The Science of Saintly Mashups

Something frivolous. A mashup, according to Wiki, is “a work of fiction which combines a pre-existing text, often a classic work of fiction, with a certain popular genre.” If you translate the catchphrase from those old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercials into cultural terms — “You got your schlock in my classic!” “No, you got [Read More…]

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Fair Play for Patriarchies

It’s easy to draw parallels between Penn State’s pedophilia scandal and the Church’s. It’s also easy to stretch those parallels too far, or toward the wrong conclusions. This is what Nicholas P. Cafardi does in a piece titled “Patriarchies and the Powerless,” published this past Friday on America Magazine’s In All Things blog. Finding that [Read More…]

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Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Schism?

Something’s got to give. Lately, that’s what a number of observers have been warning. The Body of Christ is being tugged in too many directions simultaneously; it can only be a matter of time before limbs start tearing away. Just this past week, Oxford professor Diarmaid MacCulloch predicted “a very great split over the Vatican’s [Read More…]

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Is Modest Hottest for Churches?

The first Catholic church I ever entered as an adult was St. Mary’s, in Tempe, Arizona. Built in 1903, it’s the oldest Catholic church anywhere in the Valley of the Sun. Until a recent tricking-out, it was the very soul of simplicity, with hardwood floors and pews, and a single statue of the Blessed Mother [Read More…]

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The Boy Magdalen

It always tickled me that Oscar Wilde and Maria Goretti share a birthday. (It’s October 16, which makes them both Libras — horribly fitting when you consider how both of them, in their various ways, ended up in court.) The two make such a study in contrasts as to beggar the imagination: one sprawling, sensual [Read More…]

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How to Write About Sex

If you’re theologian Alice von Hildebrand, the answer is obvious: delicately, if not sparingly. Sex and sexual pleasure, being gifts from God, represent a “sacred sphere” deserving of every defense against profanation. To explain her operating principle, she uses the French pudeur, meaning a healthy sense of shame, a quality she finds in short supply. [Read More…]

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The Perils of Self-Esteem

Imagine a nation’s armies have suffered the most catastrophic and humiliating defeat imaginable. Generals once thought to be geniuses prove themselves dimwitted, gouty time-servers. Troops expected to fight to the death panic and surrender in droves. The nation becomes the punch line in jokes that go, “I’ve got a great special on some _____ rifles: [Read More…]

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“Taking the High Road,” Take One: Bill Keller

This weekend at the Catholic Media Conference in Indianapolis, Bishop Christopher Coyne, who once served as spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston, offered some advice to folks in my line of work. Point one: Take the high road. Point two: Stay on message, meaning, the Good News. Point three: Build up, rather than tear down. [Read More…]

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Save the Kitsch!

Fr. Jim Martin is a brave man. He has made a personal crusade of re-interpreting and revivng devotions and figures commonly dismissed as mawkish. In My Life with the Saints — and ever since — he’s argued heroically and convincingly that Thérèse of Lisieux was more than a sickly gamine with a flair for melodrama; [Read More…]

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Who the Blank is Leah Libresco?

You know you’re hopelessely out of touch when a blog post manages to go viral without containing a single word you can make sense of. At a tender age of 24 hours, former atheist blogger Leah Libresco’s announcement that she’s joined an RCIA class in preparation for baptism is standing on 12,700 Facebook shares. Plus [Read More…]

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“I Wish I Could Quit You”

Last week, National Catholic Reporter published an essay by Joe Orso titled “The Power of the Dying Hierarchy Is An Illusion.” With lines comparing the Church leadership to a dying dragon and an impotent old man, it’s a challenging read, and easy to mistake for a rant. But Orso’s main point, that the Vatican and [Read More…]

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Of Mothers, Muppets and Sr. Margaret Farley

Maybe because she grew up hearing the Tridentine Mass daily, my mother has always had a passion for order that verged on the fetishistic. She could no more tolerate chaos than God can the presence of sin. If, say, I plucked her copy of Fear of Flying off the coffee table and failed to set [Read More…]

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