I’ve been thinking about this word a lot recently, in part because we read The Long Loneliness for a class of mine. It’s a text I’ve read before (and, in fact, that I recommended for this seminar) and that I hope I’ll read again. One question really seemed to trip everyone up: what to do about pacifism? You see this came up right in the wake of the Parkland Shooting. As we all know, this brings out the strongest opinions… Read more

I encounter this all the time. One man’s “righteous zeal” seems to another an unjust burst of rage. We call out the “false humility” of some, while their defenders will stand up for such a person’s unbelievably modesty and prayerfulness. It plays out left and right within any community, not least among Catholics. One could pick from about a million different examples, especially within the world of Catholic blogging. I’ll stick to one in the hope that it might illustrate… Read more

It’s no secret that I love Dorothy Day. She has helped me make sense of a Church that can often seem riven by division, academic equivocation, and a strangely-conservative politics. I don’t see much negative about Day, but she’s long been subject to criticism: she was a liberal (never mind her Anarchism and avowed anti-capitalism), she hated the sexual ethic of the Church, she opposed what it means to be an American. Her Byzantine analogue (and who knew she had… Read more

Journalist: What about your intellectual and cultural journey? Althusser: I encountered two men. The first one was Jean Guitton, who was a catholic philosopher, a friend of Pope Saint John XXIII and a close friend of Pope Paul VI. He helped me complete my dissertation. The other was a professor of history, whose name was Joseph Hours. He was a wonderful man. During the years 1936–1939, he talked to us about all that had happened: the war, the defeats, the… Read more

  No, not the pope, but the friar. St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order. That’s who I have in mind as I dredge up what seems like a half-dead, but still gasping, conversation about Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option. Why now? As many of you know, I work on medieval mysticism. This means that I have to spend time (and I ought to spend more time) reading about the history of the Middle Ages. Recently, I was… Read more

A few summers ago (it’s terrifying to me that it’s been that long), I was living in Freiburg in southern Germany. A friend and I took a train out of the city and found ourselves going the wrong way. We got off, but, since no new train would be coming by for some time, we ended up disembarking near a rural village and walking around for a bit. It was the sort of experience I can only imagine being possible… Read more

Forgive me what might seem a non-sequitur. As a kid, I’d always greet the new year with my grandmother; we’d watch the Honeymooners and bang pots and pans. Above all, though, we’d watch the annual Twilight Zone marathon. It being about the new year, I was interested to hear from a friend about an episode I can’t recall ever seeing before: “What You Need.” I’ve always loved the show, so I went home and watched this particular, unseen 25-minutes of… Read more

“Live without cares, judge no one, vex no one, and honor everyone.” – St. Ambrose of Optina “There is your brother, naked, crying, and you stand there confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering.” – St. Ambrose of Milan I often say it, but I’ll say it again: it is the martyrs, confessors, and riff-raff who keep Christianity alive in my heart. By profession, I’m a “scholar”; much of my life is spent reading arcane texts, quibbling over… Read more

Christmas time is when we cry out in joy at the announcement of a birth that goes by many names: the Incarnation, the Nativity, the Coming of the Lord. But, as the coming Feast of the Holy Innocents may remind us, death and life are never far apart. Christmas carries with it the stark price of children’s blood and the Incarnation inevitably leads to Golgotha, only to be reversed in the rising on the third day. It is in this… Read more

In the West, today marks the Feast of St. Stephen, deacon and first-recorded martyr. Tomorrow, for those Eastern Churches using the Gregorian or Revised Julian calendars (including my own Ruthenian Church), will bring the same celebration, a day to reflect on the first man to “fight the good fight,” to win the stephanos, the crown of martyrdom. December 26th is a state holiday in many countries, especially in Europe, a day to mark the ongoing joy of the Christmas Season,… Read more

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