In Which I’m Inspired by Direct Mail. Really.

I just finished The New Evangelization: 2003 - 2013 Missionary Letters, which is basically a collection of fundraising letters from A Simple House, an intentional Catholic community which practices "friendship evangelization" among the poor in DC and Kansas City, MO. It's a genuinely moving book with solid reflections on the theory and practice of charity. There are good explanations of why the authors focus on friendship as vs. efficient meeting of material needs, and there are countless … [Read more...]

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From an Interview w/Rene Girard

in First Things: In a way, Christianity is the end of archaic religions because it reveals that the victim is innocent. When you understand Christianity correctly in its closeness and distance from archaic religion it is the same structure, the scapegoat phenomenon, that Jesus is victim of. Yet the text is intended to destroy your belief in scapegoat phenomenon instead of using it in order to have sacrifices. more … [Read more...]

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“Coming Out Catholic: The Movie”: Me at AmCon

on a truly excellent film: At the Level Ground film festival the other weekend, I got to see “Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” a truly moving and well-made documentary—and an example of the movement I described in my “Coming Out Christian” piece.“Desire” lets three gay or same-sex attracted Catholics tell their stories. It’s not confrontational or argumentative; the overall tone is tender and reflective. I saw it twice, and it evoked both laughter and sniffles from the audience.And the … [Read more...]

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The Sleazy Moral Greatness of “Phone Booth”

Last night I watched Phone Booth, the 2003 thriller (brilliantly directed by Joel Schumacher, for real) in which an unseen killer traps Colin Farrell in a public phone booth and makes increasingly painful demands. It's terrifically intense--I couldn't look away. The high concept is so great: the man suffering in public, while nobody around him has any idea what he's going through. Both Farrell and his character are fun (he's a publicist, rather than a human being) and, by the end, surprisingly … [Read more...]

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From “Priests Among Men,” by Emmanuel Celestin Cdl Suhard

a reader notes that MacIntyre may have been paraphrasing or quoting this guy: To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist. from here with some rough historical context … [Read more...]

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From John Cardinal Newman, “Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. 4”

from Sermon 20: Consider for an instant. Let every one who hears me ask himself the question, what stake has he in the truth of Christ's promise? How would he be a whit the worse off, supposing (which is impossible), but, supposing it to fail? We know what it is to have a stake in any venture of this world. We venture our property in plans which promise a return; in plans which we trust, which {301} we have faith in. What have we ventured for Christ? What have we given to Him on a belief of His … [Read more...]

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“Inside the Cloister”: Casey N. Cep on Joy Within the “Jesus Cage”

in the New Yorker: ...The community at Rockford, one of around fifty or so in the United States, was organized in 1916. It was first housed in a Victorian home, then in a former sanitarium. In 1962, it moved onto its current fourteen-acre campus. The Poor Clares at Rockford observe extreme poverty, by fasting and going barefoot. Theirs is a contemplative order, meaning that, unlike active orders, they separate themselves from the world, embracing solitude and silence, devoting themselves to … [Read more...]

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