Virtuous Exemplars

My grandparents provided me with powerful examples of virtue which I would not have had had I grown up away from them. I was twelve years old the first time that I noticed that something about Granny seemed amiss. She and Gramps (my grandfather) had come over for dinner and were enjoying the pre-dinner appetizers that my mother had laid out in the living room. Granny allowed herself to be given a glass of wine before dinner, and had been… Read more

Son of God

  There is something of a vicious cycle in the world of Christian films. Pious people want to make a movie, but lack the necessary funds and skills. Undeterred, they make a movie anyway and rely on their message to make up for the lack of polish in other areas. So, most Christian films wind up cheaply produced, amateurish, and preachy. This in turn scares off others who might have the necessary technical know-how from even considering taking part in… Read more

In Defense of Distrusting Chickens

  Not too long ago I was approached by a gentleman who had read something about my farm in a brochure. He was concerned, he told me. Concerned that my attitude towards my livestock was “overly anthropomorphic”. He didn’t like that I named my pigs, or spoke to my sheep about the weather, or talked about my chickens as though they were in the business of forming conspiracies against the rest of the barnyard. Perhaps, he told me, there was… Read more

Jesus of Nazareth: A Savior with a Hometown

  Seamus Heaney. Wendell Berry. William Wordsworth. Robert Frost. In my childhood exploration of words and books, I discovered these poets weaving tapestries of grandeur with the homespun yarn of the mundane. They unearthed to me the vastness of space in the soil beneath their toes and the glorious weight of people, time and place in the familiarity of walls, wheelbarrows, and water. Recently I opened a book of prose that paints a similar picture of the practical and profound…. Read more

The Lego Movie

  Editor’s Warning: BEWARE – MASSIVE SPOILERS The Lego Movie has already been acclaimed as the greatest toy commercial ever crafted, but the reason for its success is that it is so much more than the mere money grab that we expected: it is actually a good movie. The film deals with challenging, topical issues and manages to take a more nuanced approach than the usual vapid platitudes one would expect in an animated children’s movie.  Within its hundred-minute duration,… Read more

Call the Midwife

  Jennifer Worth’s The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times chronicles the author’s experiences as a nurse and midwife amid the appalling conditions and unrelenting poverty of London’s East End in the 1950s. The book, which is part of a trilogy of bestsellers in the UK, is known mainly in America as the inspiration for the PBS show that “Downton Abbey” fans have turned to when they need their next costume-drama fix. Unlike that gorgeous Edwardian melodrama,… Read more

Religious Experience as an Assault on Autonomy

  There’s a fascinating discussion going on right now about the nature of religious experience, which was kicked off by Ross Douthat and has come to involve such diverse writers as Noah Millman and David Sessions. Douthat’s initial post was about an aspect of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age. One way to read Taylor is to say that people in a secular age have the same fundamental experiences as people in our religious past and simply interpret them differently. We experience the same reality, but reach different… Read more

Epic Mentality

  In my house, my wife Katie and I are hoping that using consistent, relaxing music around bedtime will help to create a sleepy routine for our seven-month-old daughter. You may be surprised to learn that current music of choice is a playlist of peaceful tracks from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. No, we don’t think little Teresa is learning anything from “Into the West.”  (Our parental delusions aren’t that acute.)  But as I listen to the music… Read more

The Liberal Arts and the Call to Die

          A week or two ago, I saw a friend post a link to a discussion between Robert P. George and Cornel West on the liberal arts. Having spent my time in certain intellectual circles, I was correct in assuming that Professor George would provide a robust and well-articulated commentary on the liberal arts from his Catholic, natural law understanding. Not being familiar with him outside of his appearances on The Matrix and The Examined Life,… Read more

“Be Perfect”

In his reflections on February 23rd’s Gospel reading from the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:38-48), Carl Olson draws attention to the ease with which a priest and his congregation glossed over Jesus’ words: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Perfectionism can lead to pride and personality disorders.  Better to acknowledge our limitations, and try to be “the best policeman, or fireman, or Indian chief, that we can be,” Olson’s priest advised in his homily.  This… Read more


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