“Domestic Tranquility”: I review Andrew Cherlin on working-class families

for the Weekly Standard:When the sociologist Timothy Nelson asked low-income men who didn’t live with their children what the ideal father was like, eight of them spontaneously mentioned the same man: Ward Cleaver, the dad from Leave It to Beaver. That might make sense if Nelson’s interviews had taken place in the 1950s-60s, when the show aired; but these men were interviewed in the late 2000s. Why did they hark back to a man old enough to be their own grandfather? Maybe it is because the … [Read more...]

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“America’s Imperial Mental Illness”: I’m in AmCon

reading Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. I finally got around to Ethan Watters’s 2010 Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche, an exposé of the exporting of American concepts of mental illness.Watters writes with justified outrage about the corporations, humanitarian organizations, and mass media which have acted as pushers of both drugs and therapies. He depicts charities descending on post-tsunami Sri Lanka, ignoring local cultural practices and ba … [Read more...]

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“Do Catholics Have Crisis Pregnancies?”: Moving Post

(although the answer will not surprise you!) Let me tell you about a woman I know.  She is a cradle Catholic and firm pro-lifer, happily married to a supportive and loving husband.  She lives in a modern apartment in a safe, friendly neighborhood, and her family’s income is enough to provide for their necessities and a few luxuries too.  She has a wonderful support group of like-minded family and friends.  But last year, she became unexpectedly pregnant and it was one of the biggest crises she e … [Read more...]

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“An Open Conversation on Mixed-Orientation Marriage”

over at Theology in the Raw. Up-front about the suffering they've experienced; also challenging to the churches: We’ve received a lot of well-meaning advice that has turned out to be very harmful, but possibly the worst is to avoid other LGBT people. The assumption and fear is that if Brian befriends another gay man, of course he’ll cheat. While there is wisdom in maintaining some physical, emotional, and relational boundaries, isolating oneself completely is extremely harmful. Brian’s frien … [Read more...]

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“Marilynne Robinson in Montgomery”

This essay takes a while to get going, but it's a good, steady look at the way aesthetics and theology can lead us to flatten human experience--especially when "us" is white Americans writing about race. As somebody with a very "suffering and humiliation keep you close to Christ, you should consider them sometime" spiritual style myself, it was good to get a reminder of the way that kind of spirituality can cut against a communal pursuit of justice. As somebody who loves Robinson's books, it was … [Read more...]

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“A Meditation on the Bloody Octave of Christmas”

Reposting this piece from 2012 by Msgr Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington: Many are shocked to walk into daily Mass on December 26 and instead of hearing more of the “Baby Jesus” we are confronted with Martyrdom, “The Feast of Stephen” is ancient on the Church’s calendar. More ancient than the Christmas cycle and hence it was not removed to another time. Bu the martyrdom does not stop there. We are in the midst of the Christmas Octave, an Octave filled with blood as we shall see.more; an … [Read more...]

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Wedding Crowns and Solidarity in Struggle: A “Gay and Catholic” Book Extra

I've been to two Orthodox Christian weddings so far, and my favorite part of them is the crowns. Both bride and groom are crowned during the ceremony. As with the breaking of the glass in a Jewish wedding (probably also my favorite part, though the chair-bouncing which terrified my father at my sister's wedding may take first place there) I'm guessing there are multiple meanings to this symbol, but the one I've heard most often is that these are the crowns of martyrdom. They're meant to remind … [Read more...]

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