10 Things I Wish a Facebook Meme Knew About the Church

Warning: Excessively long post. If I were a better writer and less actively involved in wrestling with the topic, I could write a lot shorter.I really wasn't going to post on this past week's Tempest in a Chickenfryer. As if we weren't polarized enough around the issue of marriage and what it means to society and to religion! The blogosphere has been a-boil with a dipping sauce comprising equal parts of vitriol, grandstanding, and pain, into which we dunk our nuggets of hard-fought belief … [Read more...]

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Everybody’s Friend, The Hermit

Just a brief post to share how happy it makes me that my friend The Hermit is also Kevin Lowry's (and many, many other people's) friend The Hermit.Brother Rex---when I was first introduced to him, I thought he was called Friar X, which was the coolest religious name ever---is a diocesan hermit in the Franciscan tradition. He's got a wicked wit, as Kevin notes, and a profoundly holy prayerfulness by which I am borne up every day, as are the many he holds in intercessory prayer. As a Tiber … [Read more...]

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Can the Catholic Church Survive? (You Betcha!)

 Two weeks ago, in the New York Times, Ross Douthat stirred up a bit of an ecclesial ruckus by asking "Can liberal Christianity be saved?" Douthat was moved to ask by viewing the news out of the then recently concluded General Convention of the Episcopal Church---news that confirmed the markedly liberal social and ecclasiastical turn the denomination has taken in recent years---alongside recently released statistics on the precipitous decline of membership, financial support, and … [Read more...]

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Oh, for [Delete Deity]’s Sake!–UPDATE 3

A friend posted this news item from the Steubenville, Ohio Herald-Star on her Facebook page, along with what I think is a remarkably restrained amount of dudgeon: STEUBENVILLE - City officials agreed Tuesday night to change the city logo after a Madison, Wis., organization threatened legal action.Law Director S. Gary Repella announced the decision following a 15-minute closed-door meeting with City Council members."We will be approaching Mark Nelson of Nelson Fine Art and Gifts and … [Read more...]

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Road Maps to the Kingdom: A Catholic Review of Tim Stafford’s “Miracles”

The material world does not need God’s miraculous interference; but God cannot deprive Himself of the power to interfere with it when He sees fit to do so. ~ Rev. Charles Coppins, SJ, A Brief Text-book of Logic and Philosophy, 1891The world may not need miracles, but those of us living in it often seem to. Some more than others.I welcomed the chance to review Tim Stafford's new book Miracles: A Journalist Looks at Modern-Day Miracles from a Catholic standpoint for the Patheos Book Club ev … [Read more...]

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Look Here! Of Monsters and Miracles–UPDATED

 In the wake of the Colorado shooting, as is common with any tragedy or disaster, we are hearing a lot about miraculous escapes: people who should have been in Theater 9 but weren't, people who turned this way and not that, people who listened to an inner voice telling them something was wrong, or who developed superhuman abilities to navigate toward the exits in the dark and the chaos.In one of the many mysterious ironies of Aurora, one of the dead, aspiring sports broadcaster … [Read more...]

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Magdalene the Magnificent

With the exception of that other Mary, the Mother of Jesus, she's the most famous woman in Christianity. (And in contrast to that other Mary, the most infamous.) Certainly, she's second only to that other Mary among artistic representations of the women of the New Testament. Her name in French, Madeleine, when run through the British mouth, gave us maudlin, which these days connotes a kind of boozy sentimental tearfulness, but originally referred to her penitential weeping. By extension, a … [Read more...]

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Bright Lines

 You know when you hear a word or phrase you've never encountered before, and suddenly it's everywhere? While listening to the SCOTUS arguments on the health care case, I first heard the phrase a bright line used in its legal definition: "a clearly defined rule or standard, leaving little room for varying interpretations," as Wikipedia has it. I liked that notion, and could even visualize it. In the months since, it seems I'm hearing it used by news commentators in a slightly different … [Read more...]

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