The Idolatry of the Year Zero

It is common to the religious mind and, indeed, to the human mind, to harken back to some lost Golden Age, a past time of perfection, from which everything is a story of decline. Christians are not exempt. It is a common temptation of all Christians to try to set a Year 0 somewhere and view their religious mission as restoring this lost Paradise.Traditionalist Catholics put this Year 0 in 1955, or perhaps 1655 or 1255. Protestant Christians put their Year 0 in 1517, or some imaginary c. 100. … [Read more...]

What Does Being A Christian Warrior Mean?

In French Catholicism, every year, there is a thing called the Pilgrimage of the Family Fathers. It's exclusively for, well, fathers. Each participating parish puts a group together and they converge on a church in Paris, and then we all do a procession towards the Sacré Coeur.This year was the year after the massive French protests against same-sex marriage. The next bête noire of this movement was a plan by France's Socialist government to teach "gender studies" in school. Before we set out … [Read more...]

Whence Mimetic Desire?

As frequent readers will know, I am a follower of René Girard and his mimetic theory. (For the uninitiated, good summary by Joe Carter here.)Girard's theory starts with the concept of mimesis or mimetic desire: humans imitate each other (like animals, we are mimetic), and in particular we desire what others desire, and we learn to desire by imitating others.A question mark I've always had was what comes "behind" mimetic desire or, in other words, what is it that makes mimetic desire the f … [Read more...]

Wanted: Young Bishops

In our icons and stained glass windows and statues and portraits, Paul is always portrayed as an old man, with that famous bald plate and long beard. But when Paul was called on the road to Damascus, he was in his mid-twenties. We have almost no iconography of young Paul.I don't think it's unfair to say, speaking neutrally, that the Church hierarchy at present is a gerontocracy. Pope Francis is 77. Cardinal Maradiaga, head of the Pope's "G8" council of cardinals, is 72. Cardinal O'Malley is … [Read more...]

The Scandal of Wealth vs the Scandal of Poverty

Jacques Attali is one of, perhaps the most fascinating French intellectual alive, one of our few polymaths left, with enormously wide-ranging interests. Attali is an economist and a futurist with a keen interest in the history of ideas.While tooling around on YouTube, I found out that Attali gave a speech (in French) outlining his thesis on the origins of capitalism. As Attali tells it, as soon as you had organization, the state created the market to get its wealth (shades of Polanyi) but … [Read more...]