An Aesthetic Critique of Youth Ministry: Miley Cyrus vs. Bonnie Raitt

MARC BARNES' CRITIQUE OF YOUTH MINISTRY has, predictably, gone viral. Today there is a measured and intelligent response posted at Fr. Robert Barron's site, The Word on Fire, written by Fr. Damian J. Ference.This back and forth reveals many studious and sophisticated things: church documents and properly understood Catholic teaching and tradition. The important stuff.The only thing I will add to that discussion is this: there is no reason to assume that, if parents are the primary educators o … [Read more...]

From the Bottum Up: The Pathos of Joseph Bottum

Yesterday, at Commonweal, the former editor of First Things, Joeseph Bottum, published an essay, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, that claims to make "A Catholic's Case for Same-Sex Marriage."The essay is not the sort of thing one is used to reading on the internet these days. It twitches and rewinds and plods along, filling time to avoid the break-up talk. It requires patience and, oddly enough, an ability to set a hot button issue aside for a moment and give Bottum a chance to speak his … [Read more...]

Two Faces of Credibility

There are two competing lines of thought, etched in my mind, oscillating back and forth, affecting the way I feel about myself and my work. When they are separated and speak univocally, they ring true, but too harsh. When they are taken together, as a whole, they verge on being boring and forgettably balanced or, even worse, contradictory.I am allergic to credentialism, clericalism, and all easy appeals to authority. This is a reality I experience internally and externally. The former is the … [Read more...]

Compulsory Schooling and Preventative War — Or, Why Children Have to Go to School

In the secular liturgical cycle of the American year, two seasonal certainties stand out: going to school and filing taxes. In the late summer and early fall, we send our children to school under penalty of law. (Even students at charter, private, or home schools are still under the same structural authority, leveraged by truancy laws, as those who attend public schools.) In the late winter and early spring, we file taxes under similar legal compulsion.We all know that truancy and tax evasion … [Read more...]

Why We Do Not Have Free Will

Patheos is hosting a symposium on the question "Do we have free will?" --- one the classic questions of philosophy, psychology, and the humanities in general, a question rich in religious significance and theological implications, a ridiculous question.I'll take a shot at it.My reply is very simple, albeit perhaps deceiving in its point of emphasis.We do not have free will.The positive way to put it would be to correct the original question and posit the following as an … [Read more...]

Are You Not Entertained? (Or, How Fr. Z Beat Me at Our Own Game)

There is nothing subtle about what happened to my blog this weekend. It exploded.Against all norms --- i.e., weekends are supposed to be quiet and forgettable --- and expectations, my post on Fr. Z took off and indicates that July 2013 will be a record month.My pragmatic feelings about this are wholly positive. The end of summer teaching term brings a pay gap. I could use the spare change that the extra web-traffic generates on the Patheos payment model.But I have other feelings about it, … [Read more...]

Father Z Equates Catholic Bishops at WYD 2013 with Nazis UPDATED

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, also known (and hereafter referred to) as "Fr. Z," will surely dispute the claim of this headline, however, this post will show that the proposition "Father Z equates Catholic Bishops at WYD 2013 with Nazis" is true, by examining the words used by Fr. Z in today's post at his web log, "Your Excellencies? REALLY?!?"Fr. Z's post begins with the YouTube video (below) of a large group of Catholic Bishops, dressed in ecclesial attire, rehearsing hand movements to an upbeat re … [Read more...]

Pope Francis endorsed MY book, too!

For some time now we've all seen how much Pope Francis reiterates the central theme and problem of idolatry treated at length in Elizabeth Scalia's book, Strange Gods. He even "endorsed" it! (I endorse it too, by the way, and hope to give a full review of it here very soon.) Nathaniel Peters agrees in his recent review of Lumen Fidei, at First Things.Much to my surprise and delight, I discovered that Francis took time to endorse my own book, A Primer for Philosophy and Education, too, during … [Read more...]

Why I’m Not Writing About the Trayvon Martin Case

The easy, short answer is that I don't have time. It really is that simple, too simple. Unclear.I worry that some of my more critical readers have confused the difference between simplicity and oversimplification.Of course things often reduce to a simple core reality. At the same time, these simple things can rarely be accounted for with "simple" talk. Perhaps silence is best. But that leaves much to be desired, too, sometimes.I value clarity as a form of fidelity. For me, to be "clear" is … [Read more...]

Criticizing Criticism and The Blue Evangelization: A Rejoinder

Read this first. This post is about that post. +++ It is not my first time being (mis)understood as a curmudgeon, provocateur, and a snob. I'm sure it won't be my last and I am not proud of that. I'm actually quite ambivalent about it. Polemics are a refuge for me, I feel at home in a debate. It comforts me. But I also grow weary and bored of the routine. More than anything else, debate is a routine. At best it is a subtle dance, at worst it is an exercise in shame and humiliation --- not unlike … [Read more...]


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