The Hard Grace of Receiving: Prayers for the Margaret Marys, All

When the story of the hard life and lonely death of former Duquesne University adjunct Margaret Mary Vojtko first lit up the Internet (prompted by labor lawyer Daniel Kovalik's September op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), attention focused on the harsh treatment of adjuncts by universities in general, and the supposed Grinchishly unChristian treatment of this adjunct by Catholic Duquesne in particular. Beyond tweeting #IAmMargaretMary in righteous solidarity, very few saw Madame Vojtko as … [Read more...]

Hans Kueng and the Grace of a Good Death

 Saw this Reuters story, Catholic rebel Kueng, 85, considers assisted suicide, today courtesy of my Patheos neighbor Frank Weathers, who's painting pillars and has no time to comment on those who like to pull them down. Hans Kueng, Roman Catholicism's best known rebel theologian, is considering capping a life of challenges to the Vatican with a final act of dissent - assisted suicide.Kueng, now 85 and suffering from Parkinson's disease, writes in final volume of his memoirs that … [Read more...]

Busting the Myth of Jesus-Myth Busting

When will writers bent on revealing the shocking / faith-shattering / never before heard or imagined / this proves you believers are stupid / all of the above facts about the "historical Jesus" ever learn that it doesn't matter? The worship and love Jesus' followers have for him, the witness and sacrifice and courage and charity he inspires in them, depend not one whit---not a jot or a tittle, to put it scripturally---on what passes for objective historical fact.The business (and it is big … [Read more...]

“Someone In the Family Is Suffering”

 While we in the US---Catholics, the media---are still parsing and praying over last week's papal interview, Pope Francis himself is wasting no time in issuing marching orders (H/T The Deacon's Bench). "Am I indifferent or is it like someone in the family is suffering?" he asked.He asked everyone to be honest with themselves and respond in their hearts: "How many of you pray for Christians who are persecuted" and for those who are in difficulty for professing and defending the … [Read more...]

Oh, Lord, Come by Here!: Letting Our Longings Out

 No matter how you spin it, the papal interview published last Thursday has prompted some remarkable soul-searching. When that seed fell on the good ground here in the Patheos Catholic neighborhood and environs, it was as though the spring rains had come to California's high desert. Something impossibly beautiful is blooming in the way that Catholics of all ages and conditions and walks of life and places on the gameboard are wrangling personally with what they hear in Pope Francis's … [Read more...]

The Parable of the Papal Interview

Hear this!A pope went out to give an interview. And as he talked, some of his words fell to the media, and those birds gobbled them up before they could even be heard.Others of his words fell to those who didn't understand his context. They received his message with joy, but the first time it occurred to them how difficult it would be to live by those words, their enthusiasm withered like seedlings in a drought.Some of his words fell among cranky people who believed those words … [Read more...]

The Demon in the Shadows: Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and an Adjunct’s Lonely Death

Two very different stories in my newsfeed this morning. Both are tragic. Each gets attention for the questions it raises about law and justice. But each has another, less obvious thread that compounds the tragedy, complicates the law, raises more troubling questions of justice. Each challenges us to respond to those questions, as Catholics, as Americans.We've all been watching the unfolding tragedy of Monday's mass shooting at the Naval Shipyard in Washington, DC. The victims are being named … [Read more...]

The Church and the Costa Concordia: A Lesson

 Righting the ship. If you've been following the efforts  to raise the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise vessel, grounded for nearly two years on an Italian reef, you know it was no simple operation. It took vision, commitment, lots of money and equipment and time.Righting the Church (which is, even for those of us who share Pope Francis's graced optimism, always in need of righting) is the much the same.It only takes one person---the Concordia's captain, who swears he didn't know … [Read more...]