Within Christianity, there are several theories of the meaning of the Cross and Resurrection. I think no single theory can fully account for this great mystery, but that each theory gives us a lens that together paint an impressionistic picture. We hear a lot about penal theories of the atonement, from Calvinistic friends, but this is also a theory that, under some forms, is present within Catholic Tradition. And we hear about Christus Victor, which is very important. The one… Read more

Maybe you’ve heard the news that New York’s late Cardinal Archbishop John O’Connor was of Jewish descent. This news has had an unexpected impact on me, because lately I can’t stop thinking of a religious figure who has had a tremendous impact on my life: Aron Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, late Cardinal Archbishop of Paris. Lustiger was a Jew, born into a Jewish family, who converted to Catholicism as a teenager, and never renounced his Jewish identity, to the contrary seeing… Read more

I just got back from teaching catechism at my parish. The theme was the Resurrection, but in order to talk about the Resurrection and be able to say anything, you have to talk about the Crucifixion and the nature of Christ. “Why did Jesus go to the Cross?” Most of them had heard that Jesus went to the Cross to save us from our sins. “Okay, but how does Jesus going to the Cross save us from our sins? What’s… Read more

A while back (a few weeks ago, so eons in Internet time) there was a big debate among Catholic Patheosi on how we should do catechesis. I wasn’t a Patheosi at the time so I just threw a few spitballs. But it seems to me that I (and we) skipped a step. Before we ask how we catechize kids, we should probably ask what for. “To make disciples for Christ!” Well, ok. I’ve been in the frontlines of catechesis, in one form… Read more

This is a thing that people around the blogosphere have been doing, so I thought I’d join in. I think it might also be useful as an exercise to motivate myself to keep reading more and blogging more about it. In this spirit… The Bible. Funny, right? This year I’m doing more of an effort to read the bible thoroughly as a book, instead of by excerpts and through the daily Bible readings and the Liturgy of the Hours. Right… Read more

Fourth (and last) in a series. Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.  4. Mary Tells Us About The Generosity Of God The Marian dogmas are all about the generosity of God–as the Canticle of Mary shows so powerfully. A friend of mine who’s also an amateur theologian once said to me about the Marian dogmas, which he dislikes, in essence: “If it’s not about the kerygma, then we shouldn’t really talk about it too much or make pronouncements.” This… Read more

Third in a series. Here’s (1) and here’s (2). 3. What Mary Tells Us About Ourselves (i.e. Reflection On The Immaculate Conception) An objection I encounter over and over again to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is that it makes Mary unrelateable, and “supernaturalizes” her in an unseemly way. In the arresting, powerful phrase of my late friend and intellectual mentor Vladimir Volkoff, “If Mary is free from all sin, she is no longer my little sister.” This isn’t… Read more

Here’s the first post in this series. What Mary Tells Us About The Church In the words of the Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky, words that Catholics can very much take as their own, Tradition is “the life of the Spirit within the Church.”  The faith is “ever ancient and ever new”; it has been delivered to the apostles “once and for all”, and yet we ceaselessly grow in our understanding of it. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,… Read more

In the previous column, I outlined how I think Catholic theology should look at markets: as avenues for co-creation and service. Here, I want to draw out two implications of that view that I think are very important for having the proper view of markets. 1) Positive sum exchanges. It is simplistic, but it is worth keeping in mind the lesson from economics 101 : in any economic transaction, both participants are better off, otherwise we wouldn’t have traded. The… Read more

Item 1 in a Four-Part Series. There’s a trend in post-Vatican II Catholic theology of sort-of ignoring Mary and ignoring the Marian dogmas and the Marian devotions, and sort-of leaving them to the side. Partly this comes from a very good intention of keeping Christ and the kerygma at the center, which is certainly where He should be (of course, the notion that keeping Christ at the center is incompatible with Marian devotion falls away once you realize that Jesus… Read more

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