Ghosts in the Bible: The Old Testament

Samuel Appearing to Saul (Fuseli 1777)

Ghosts posed a problem for the early Church because they seemed to reflect a holdover of pagan belief and superstition. Yet reliable witnesses continued to report encounters with what to appeared to be spirits, and witnesses were not so easily dismissed as they are now. As we head into Halloween, I hope to do a [Read More...]

The St. Rose Safety Patrol is Expecting Rain

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Lots of rain. Competition in the Gorton Fisherman Lookalike Contest was always stiff at St. Rose’s (St. Rose School Safety Patrol, Belmar, NJ: 1956. Photo from Robert Pringle).   [Read more...]

Christ the Apothecary

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There is a minor tradition in art of depicting Christ as the Divine Pharmacist, an Apothecary of the Soul, mixing and compounding the medicine for mankind. In this illumination from a 16th century manuscript, He is shown writing out the prescription to treat original sin. There’s no word on whether Adam and Eve had a co-pay. [Read more...]

Three Nuns Raped, Decapitated

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Xaverian missionary sisters Lucia Pulici (age 75), Bernadetta Boggian (79), and Olga Raschietti (82) were raped and murdered at their convent in Bujumbura, Burundi over the weekend. (The Xaverian Missionaries are denying the rapes, which were  reported by Godefroid Bizimana, Deputy Director General of Burundian police. It’s currently unclear whether two or all three of the nuns were decapitated.) [Read More...]

How Social Media Is Messing With Your Brain

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The hard thing about social media is to use it without being used by it. I like it just fine to keep in touch with friends, family, and a network on fellow travelers in a variety of interests. It gives me a place to post pictures of my dog, like this: Oh stop, you know [Read More...]

The Dixie Trinity?

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Painting by Clyde Broadway. [Read more...]

Ancient Christian Text “Charm” Found

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A 1500 year old fragment of papyrus was discovered University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library. One side is a piece of “scrap paper”: a receipt for payment of a grain tax. On the other side of the receipt someone had written Biblical passages from the Psalms and Matthew, including a passage from the last supper. The paper [Read More...]

Seven Quick Takes: Things I Saw On Vacation

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We don’t vacate much here, and when we do we try keep it to driveable locations where there’s something to do. The beach vacation is simply a mystery to me. I don’t understand the appeal of flying somewhere to sit on a beach and work on my melanoma. I don’t even like beaches. These criteria [Read More...]

The Lord’s Prayer Turned Into Prayer To Hugo Chavez

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Venezuelan socialist party (PSUV) delegate Maria Estrella Uribe rose to the microphone at the party conference on Monday and said this: “Our Chavez who art in heaven, the earth, the sea and we delegates, hallowed be your name. May your legacy come to us so we can spread it to people here and elsewhere. Give [Read More...]

The Tunics of St. Ambrose

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The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan, first consecrated in 379, was built by St. Ambrose at a site where Christians had been executed. For at least a thousand years (and almost certainly longer) the church has held several silk tunics which tradition associates with the great saint and Father. Now, a team of archaeologists from [Read More...]

The Angry St. Thomas Aquinas Metal Balloon Animal Sculpture

Thomas Aquinas: Terminator

During our travels, we attended mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Church at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville). This hulking monstrosity squats outside like an angry sentinel daring people to be Catholic. My son dubbed it “St. Thomas Aquinas Prime” and wondered if it was made of transformium. The parish is actually quite lovely and thriving, [Read More...]

Internet, Meet Ivy

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Ivy, meet the Internet. They love cute puppies more than porn and selfies combined. I’ve been wrapping the summer up with a vacation: boating, Mount Vernon, Spy Museum, Shakespeare, and other to-ings and fro-ings. Overall, a rousing success, ending with a new addition to the family. Because I don’t want to let the internets down [Read More...]

“I shall be called John Paul”

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On this day in 1978, the newly elected John Paul I explained his choice of name: Yesterday morning I went to the Sistine Chapel to vote tranquilly. Never could I have imagined what was about to happen. As soon as the danger for me had begun, the two colleagues who were beside me whispered words of [Read More...]

Ophelia’s Funeral: Suicide and The Church

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Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Public Square 2014 Summer Series: Conversations on Religious Trends. Read other perspectives from the Patheos community here. In 1915, my great grand-aunt Emma Annie Rabig died at the age of 24. I have a copy of her death certificate. Next to “Cause of death” is written “Body viewed.” Nothing more. There’s a [Read More...]

Real Catholic Men Can Play Games

The 40 Year Old Virgin

A couple weeks back I read something by a priest arguing that Real Catholic Men should not play videogames. The article was pointless and ill-informed, and proved mostly that the author had not one single solitary clue about his subject matter and only the vaguest notion about “videogames” and the people who play them. We were treated [Read More...]


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