Survey Now Open: Listen To Me, Catholic Mothers Edition

I've lost my patience with church people who just won't listen to the real stories of the Catholics and not-quite-Catholics they are supposed to be serving.  So I'm starting a survey series, and survey #1 is for Catholic mothers.  If you're a mother and you consider yourself Catholic, then you're part of that group, even if you're not a very good Catholic.  (As you'll see, the questions reflect this.)You can find the form here.  The only required question is whether you are willing to have yo … [Read more...]

So, Jennifer, How Do You, Ahem, Pray?

Over at Tom McDonald's blog today, you can find out all kinds of things about how I pray.Something I mention but don't elaborate on there, because I didn't want to overwhelm a perfectly good blog:The reason writing is so bad for praying is that there's always a story or an argument in my head, and it can absolutely own me.  Arguments aren't too terribly bad, in that you can get away with sort of "bringing them to the Lord," which is part prayerful reflection and part excuse to keep … [Read more...]

More Bad Arguments: The Good Man Defense

Moving beyond any particular example of terrible writing, I want to address a non-argument I've seen circulating among Catholics of good will lately.  If you're going to be Catholic, set yourself firmly in favor of the truth.  If you're going to set yourself in favor of the truth, you need to know a non-argument when you see it.Again, I'm writing here not to philosophers, but to ordinary internet people like myself. Good Guys Do Bad Things Here's an example of a typical round.  Sam Rocha wr … [Read more...]

Is There a Rational Argument in Favor of IVF for Church Employees?

In discussing the recent scandal out of Notre Dame's theology department, a question arose: Would it be possible for Joel Baden and Candida Moss to have argued well against the Catholic position on IVF?  That is, is there another way they could have challenged the Catholic position that would have shown them worthy opponents?I think there is, and I'm going to walk you through my thoughts on that. Before we begin, let's go over some preliminaries:1. I don't for a moment question any as … [Read more...]

As Morning Breaks: 2015 Gospel Reflections for Every Day of the Year

Now out from As Morning Breaks, Daily Gospel Reflections.  It's available as a Kindle book (very affordable - $2.99), but FYI if you want to get this as a gift for someone, it's not necessary to own a dedicated device in order to read it. Any PC, tablet, whatever, can read Kindle books, just download the free software from Amazon.  What's in the book?  A reflection on the daily Gospel reading for every day of 2015.  This is from the team at, so if you … [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...]

Social Media for Self-Promotion: What’s Acceptable and What’s Just Plain Obnoxious?

Over at Catholic Writers Guild this month, I'm talking about social media for writers.  I start with some comments on why marketing matters, and why it can be a struggle for Catholic authors: For about 5% of authors, marketing is a delight: A chance to get out of the writer’s box, meet people, chat, share the exciting news.  For the rest of us, it’s a chore.  I’d rather be writing.  I’d rather be holed up in my hermitage minding my own business.  I don’t want to bother people.Many of us Cath … [Read more...]