On Racism in the American South and the Shock of the Charleston Shootings

When I first heard about the murders at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church down in Charleston, the news was barely onto it.  So I went where the reporters were going, which is #CharlestonShooting on Twitter.  It's a hashtag that's been used before, for a different white-on-black shooting.  If you peruse the comments with any sense of interest in your fellow man, you'll note the race theme real quick.  At this writing,  half a day later, all the evidence is pointing towards an unequivocally hate- … [Read more...]

Three Signs It’s a Sexual Abuse Cover-Up and Not Just an Innocent Misunderstanding

In yesterday's installment in this series on preventing and stopping sexual abuse, I created three pairs of fictional scenarios.  Scene A was a typical case of ordinary parish life mishaps; Scene B was covert sexual abuse.  Today I want to explain how I crafted those pairs, and what the hallmarks of covert abuse were that I put into all the Scene B's.Let's pause here and encourage you to read up on this subject elsewhere.  My analysis below isn't based on statistical modeling, and I don't ha … [Read more...]

Phone Before You’re Sure: Why Stopping Sexual Abuse Requires Early Police Involvement

Yesterday I wrote this, and you might be wondering why: You can talk to an officer at your local police station and describe the situation first before naming the perpetrator, if you are unsure whether a crime is actually taking place. Isn't it obvious if sexual abuse is taking place?  The answer is no, not always.  Today we're going to look at why that is, and why you should go ahead and make an inquiry with the police about a questionable situation if you're unsure.(And no, this isn't p … [Read more...]

What Not to Read When You’ve Got a Rash

I don't have a rash, so I can read this book:Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Guwande.What it is: Published in 2003, so technically it's sort of old, in medical-technology years, but no, not really I don't think so, the book is a discussion of the imprecisions and hazards of practicing medicine, told from the point of view of a freshly-minted surgeon.You get a combination of riveting stories (including a time Dr. Guwande really screwed up), statistics, … [Read more...]

Love, Death, and the Communion of Saints: There are Movies for That

My chief occupation this Memorial Day was doing things to prevent my lungs from making interesting squeaky sounds (no, really: the squeaking was fascinating -- and harmless, as it happened, which adds to the appeal), and that means watching movies. These are the ones that are worth your time, and I'm looking at you, Julie Davis. Still Life A decade or so ago I inherited a collection of poetry, one of those mass-market-intellectual anthologies that was so popular back when all we had for the … [Read more...]

The Perverse Pleasures of Chronic Illness: Ordinary Colds

Late this afternoon I gave up all pretense that my runny nose might be allergies and conceded the ugly truth. It's a cold.  Minor disappointments follow: Missing the Pentecost sequence again (I hate that), missing the chance to go to Mass on Memorial Day again (double hate).Now what usually happens when you are a sickly person who comes down with some kind of common complaint is that people who love you immediately inform you of all the reasons you are responsible for your fate:You've be … [Read more...]

Is there a Christian Answer to the Transgender Problem? How about BIID?

I've written on the topic of transgender Christians before, see the last two links in the list below.  Today I want to answer a few questions that came up in the course of a private conversation concerning both gender dysphoria and body integrity identity disorder.  The two are related in that both involve a sense that one's (otherwise ordinary) body is profoundly wrong-as-created.  The two are also related in that the moral (and thus physical) response to both conditions is essentially the sa … [Read more...]