Patheos Prompt: Why I’m Catholic?

Patheos wants to know why I'm Catholic, in 200 words. The most honest answer is this: I don't know---who really knows why they are who they think they are? I don't have evidence or arguments, just a hodgepodge of experiences and feelings and thoughts and circumstances and guesses and doubts and fears and beautiful things and love and my family and pain and suffering and stories and fortune and hope. The better, shorter, and even less satisfying one-word answer: Grace. (You should read … [Read more...]

A Hot Mess: Marriage, Derrida, Nabokov, and Whatnot

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I don't really understand what the same sex marriage hullabaloo is about. I can understand it at a personal, anecdotal level. I know a great many people who are upset and concerned and animated about this issue. But I do not have a clear grasp of what is really going on.As a Roman Catholic, I understand marriage as a sacrament. I'm not even sure what it means to be "married" outside of the sacrament of marriage. I guess filing taxes is the only place where it makes some concrete sense to … [Read more...]

Franciscan Theatrics: Papa Francisco’s Gangsta Ways

"Show, don't tell." This could be the Franciscan evangelical motto. The Franciscan tradition is rooted in story, stories of Father Francis doing crazy, wild, and beautiful things. St. Francis was, in many respects, a fool. He saw things in the most literal, direct ways. A childlike artist.Finger painting.When called to rebuild Christ's Church, Francis began with his hands. Only later did he realize that the work was not a brick and mortar affair. This is the man who placed a manger under … [Read more...]

Pope Francis, Our American Pope

I just arrived in Portland, Oregon. It was a long, beautiful train ride. My pope alarm was rendered useless by rural Montana, but I eventually got the word, narrated over the phone by my wife. Since then, I've consumed news in the patches of 3G service available.Needless to say, I'm not very well informed. But I do hope to read some of his works in Spanish and provide some commentary in the months to come, before the translations begin to pour out. As usual, this isn't journalism. Just … [Read more...]

Papal Indifference and The Will of God at the Bowling Alley

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I don't care who our next pope will be. I find the fanfare understandable and laudable at times, but mostly lackluster. Even slightly annoying. I think a Patheos blogger already wrote about that.Here and there, in conversations I've had lately, I've mentioned that globalizing the papacy makes me uneasy. I think I prefer Italian popes. But I really don't care. I suspect that comment is just to make conversation interesting.I've even found myself indifferent to the papacy in general. I … [Read more...]

The Teacher-Centered Classroom

Last week I gave two talks at Wabash College. The second talk was unfortunately not recorded. The administration at Wabash College seems to find very serious and somewhat technical lectures on aesthetics, philosophy, and teaching very dangerous these days---so much for the liberal arts. I recorded the noon talk, and the very interesting discussion that followed, myself; here it is, for those who might be interested: The Teacher Centered Classroom. Next week, I'll be training to Portland, OR, t … [Read more...]

Beyond the Funk: Prayers for Quvenzhane Wallis UPDATED

Last night on Twitter, during the fanfare of the Oscars, the satirical news publication, The Onion, posted a perverse tweet about nine-year-old actress, Quvenzhane Wallis, from Beasts of the Southern Wild. The tweet referred to the beautiful young girl using the C-word.The intent was clear: juxtapose the most adorable person at the Oscars with the most revolting description imaginable---and get lots of attention. Well they got it and now they seem to regret it. They removed the tweet, which … [Read more...]

Solidarity in Vulgarity: The Funk in Racist Jokes (A Reprise)

As a sequel to my previous Black History Month re-post, "White History Month," from earlier this month, here is an essay I published in the X-Position, the journal of  The Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies at Wabash College, last year. Enjoy!  Solidarity in Vulgarity: The Funk in Racist Jokes“I don’t want your stupid ethnic dances, I want dirty jokes!”-Slavoj Zizek“Gonna have a funky good time, gonna have a funky good time!”-James Brown“The man of knowledge must b … [Read more...]

Is God an Introvert? A Review of “Quiet,” by Susan Cain

Michael Richmond was not my student, with the exception of his senior comprehensive oral exam. I was his examiner for his major in philosophy. He was a English and philosophy double-major. It was early. He was terribly nervous and clumsy and had trouble identifying a simile, and muttered through he details of Kafka's Metamorphosis. I asked him odd questions about the absurd and tried to get him to say something interesting. He left the room as soon as he could and earned a deservingly average … [Read more...]

On the Death of Matthew Crawley

There is something about season three of Downton Abbey that I really liked.Something dark.I preferred it to season two: I found the war, albeit historically important and a perfect ending to season one, rather distracting and flimsily tethered together. Although I did cry for the sentimental ending.I still think season one was almost perfect.I didn't cry when I intuited that Matthew was going to die nor when the thick fake blood massaged his ear and face and confirmed his … [Read more...]


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