Remembering Papa, Barely

papa

As a nine-year-old, living in a different state from my Papa, I was fairly unmindful of him; he was more mythic than substantial. Even my memories of him are blurred around the edges, only coming into focus when I look at photographs of him. Tall, lanky, small wire-framed glasses, an ever-present pipe with that sweet [Read More...]

Becoming Neo-Pascalian: Diminishing Your Passions or Increasing Your Hunger

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In our last Neo-Pascalian conversation, I indicated that fragment 418 held yet another clue to the business of make-believe faith. There he addresses the one who “seeks a cure”—who recognizes his or her unbelief and wants to remedy the situation. That, I suggested, indicates the all-important role of desire. If you recognize that you are [Read More...]

A Trilogy of Celebrations: 1 + 1 + 1

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As a child, I only got two religious holidays—Christmas and Easter—and even then, they were minimally observed. That is, the language and meaning of the historical event was there, but the communal ceremony and physical expression and creative experience was missing. Sometimes Evangelicalism seems to unconsciously embrace a subtle form of Gnosticism in its rejection [Read More...]

If I Hadn’t Had Children…

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Mother’s Day is usually a day on which other people in my life think nice things about me (I hope), or I think of my own mother (always), and yet, perhaps this year it’s time to reflect on just exactly what on earth has happened to me. There are those mothers who anticipated the delights [Read More...]

My House: God’s Favorite Place on Earth

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(A Book Review) “Living after you have died is strange.” So Lazarus tells us. An understatement, don’t you think? Living before you have died is sometimes very strange, so after you’ve died has to be far weirder. Not many people get to tell that story. In God’s Favorite Place on Earth, though, Lazarus (via Frank [Read More...]

Becoming Neo-Pascalian: The Second Step Toward a Make-Believe Faith

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I want to begin this part of the conversation acknowledging a comment to my last post about a sense of need. Nick astutely writes: My big problem with “God shaped hole” arguments is that it seems to me that I would have to accuse an awful lot of people of living in, at the very [Read More...]

Becoming Neo-Pascalian: The First Step of Make-Believe Faith

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We are left with this all-important question: how do we get faith? How do we “make belief”? If we’re not lucky or blessed enough to have a Damascus-road experience, and, as Pascal tells us, we can’t reason our way to faith or merely don faith like a good habit, then what? What? If indeed there [Read More...]

Making Room for the In-Laws

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Marriage is the ultimate melting pot. Unless you’re one of those whose families knew each other well prior to their children marrying, if you’re married, you have probably had an experience something like mine. He was an Episcopalian; I was an Evangelical Free Churcher. He was from California; I was from Colorado. He was a [Read More...]

Easter: Tripping Over Joy

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The Easter season has only just begun. It will go on for another seven weeks, and then it will go on for eternity. This poem, for me at least, captures both its magnificence and its munificence, its great grace and its hilarity. There is a laughter that comes when we are deeply relieved at having [Read More...]

Becoming Neo-Pascalian: From Gambling Table to Altar

Coin-Toss

One of the concepts Pascal is best known for is his Wager, a longer fragment in Pensées (f. 418). Here Pascal brings his formidable mathematical mind, operating halfway between the gambling table and the altar, to the issue of faith, and plays with probability theory in the soul. It is such a rich and complex [Read More...]

Loving Mrs. Turpin, Loving the Grotesque

gargoyle eating snake

If I were less ordinary, reading Flannery O’Connor would be more fun. As it is, I inhabit the commonplace, and she lives in a different dimension, a place, as one critic put it, of living gargoyles. This makes reading her fiction a stressful and shocking experience. I imagine that, if she knew this, it would [Read More...]

Becoming Neo-Pascalian: The Third Order

MoonsOfJupiter

In our last Pascalian conversation, I left you with fire. And if you’ve had an experience like Pascal’s, perhaps you feel that all this blather about science and reason and blah, blah, blah is highly irritating. Fire is warm and bright and compelling. Science and reason is cold and comfortless. Can we really come to [Read More...]


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