Something Beautiful for Christmas: Marriage, Faith & Alzheimer’s by Larry Peterson

Up at Catholic Writers Guild today, Larry Peterson is stealing the show with his beautiful essay on his first Christmas with Alzheimer's under the tree: The past ten years of her life seem to have literally vanished from her brain. She does not remember us getting married. (We were both widowed and married eight years ago. She has no clue.) So she asks me if we are really married. I show her our marriage license and pictures from our wedding. She is shocked. “I can’t believe it, ” she says. We r … [Read more...]

10 Reasons It’s Safe to Come to Mass this Christmas

You've no doubt seen Saturday Night Live's chillingly (hilariously) accurate tour of what you can expect at Mass this Christmas, but you might still be thinking, Hmmn.  Is it really a good idea for someone like me to go to place like that?  With Jesus in it and stuff?The answer is yes.  Here are my top ten reasons why:10. It really is the Church for anybody at all.  There might be other religions where you're expected to have your act together from day one.  Catholics, on the other hand, … [Read more...]

Why Can’t We Do Evil that Good Might Come of It? Even to Save a Life? – UPDATED

Erin Arlinghaus challenged me (update below) to explain why it so important for any ethical system, religious or otherwise, to be built on the principles I explain here.  I'll recap them quickly, but check the tutorial for more examples and explanations.Principle #1 is "Double Effect" or "Parallel Effect."  What it means is this: It's okay to do something good, even if there's a chance that something bad might happen.  Without this principle, you literally cannot act.  Everything you do bears … [Read more...]

Debate, Dissent, and Dishonesty: What Makes a Good Argument, and What’s Just Embarrassing?

In discussions surrounding Notre Dame's staffing problem, a question was posed: When is an argument part of an honest debate, and when is it more like the intellectual equivalent of something stuck to the bottom of your shoe? Here's a tutorial.  It's not a philosophical treatise, it's written for ordinary arguers. Debate We can say that we are debating a question when two criteria are met:We are discussing a matter that is open to discussion. We are in fact trying to arrive at an i … [Read more...]

Hating the Holidays as the Precursor to Happiness

You're supposed to be happy now, because it's the holidays.  The rest of the year, a civil disposition generally suffices.  But for the next eight weeks, if you aren't madly in love with every gift, every canape, every delightful holiday fete . . . you aren't just an ungrateful wretch, you're a menace to society. There are Good Reasons to Hate the Holidays The thing about the modern holiday season is that it's come unmoored.  We don't celebrate Thanksgiving, we celebrate Thanks-Getting -- he … [Read more...]

In Favor of Incompetent Housewives

 Your must-read column for today is Calah Alexander's essay on what it's like being part of the current generation of incompetents, "Those Pathetic Millenial Moms.". . .  I was raised by a loving, attentive mother who stayed home until I was in high school. But culture is pervasive. Kids learn it through osmosis, and unless you lock them in a fortress, they’re gonna pick up on it. “Stay-at-home-mom” had a negative connotation for me from the time I began hearing “mom” qualified as su … [Read more...]

The Grace of No #GraceofYes

Jen Holding Grace of Yes by Lisa Hendey

I've joked all summer that I need Lisa Hendey to write me a companion volume to her new book, The Grace of Yes.  It would consist of a single index card with the word NO in giant letters.   She assured me: There's a chapter for you. So when my copy of the The Grace of the Yes arrived, I stared at it nervously for a minute, then quick checked the table of contents.  Chapter 7: The Grace of No.  Written for people like me.  I flipped straight to it, like an alcoholic racing past the bar towards th … [Read more...]