Wanted: God—Dead or Alive?

305880083_7cf2d7bf10_mIf you practice a religion faithfully—faith-fully—, why do you do this? And why is it this particular religion that you practice?

“The embarrassing fact is that most religious people seem to believe in a religion for no better reason than that their parents believed in it.” So states poet and literary critic Adam Kirsch in his review-essay “Is Reason Enough?” in The New York Review of Books (April 23, 2015). [Read more...]

What Cannot Be Fixed

Fixed1I remember the time when “entropy” was all the rage. It must have been in the late twentieth century, that dark era when the world seemed in inexorable decline.

Everyone was talking about “entropy,” how everything was inevitably caught in a process of deterioration, disorder, decay. There was sound physics behind the concept—in the theory of thermodynamics. But as popularly used, “entropy” was not a technical term but a loose vision of the crumbling of culture, of the unavoidable disintegration of our lives and of all meaning. [Read more...]

Las Madres: Art and Death in the Arizona Desert

pic“The artist is a beggar because she is empty, waiting to be filled. But the artist is also… someone who is driven to go out to the margins of society in order to learn what the margins can teach those at the center.”

When I’d read these words in Greg Wolfe’s editorial in the current issue of Image (#84), I immediately thought of fiber artist Valarie James. Living in the desert of southern Arizona, James hasn’t had to go far to get to society’s margins. When she walks her dog near her home, she finds objects left behind by Central American migrants who have risked their lives—and often lost them—as they traverse the harsh desert mountains seeking safety and the dignity of work in the United States. [Read more...]

Jesus Through Poets’ Eyes

15416184450_c48e41f5e6_mIn my Catholic faith, Easter lasts for seven weeks, until Pentecost; so I’m not too late with this little Easter offering. This year for Easter, instead of hunting for colored eggs, I hunted through my book The Poets’ Jesus for some of the many ways that poets have seen Jesus over the centuries. I found hundreds; but here, lined up chronologically in their carton, are a key dozen.

As indeed He sucked Mary’s milk
He has given suck—life to the universe.
As again He dwelt in His mother’s womb
in His womb dwells all creation.

This eye-opener comes from fourth century Syrian poet Ephrem, for whom the Incarnation marvelously turned everything in the universe upside down—here, imaging Jesus as mother. [Read more...]

The Kiss of Judas

Giotto_KissOfJudasWhen Judas approached Jesus in the Garden and kissed him, how do you think Jesus responded? Oh, we know what the gospel says:

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas…arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ (Matthew 26:47-50

So Jesus responds by calling Judas “Friend.” (In every Bible translation I’ve seen, Jesus calls Judas “Friend” here.)

[Read more...]