Philosophy in a Trout Stream

Over the past two summers in rural Indiana, I rekindled my life-long love of fishing. Last summer, just before our trek up north, a student told me about a small river nearby where trout were released and could be caught by special permit. Having grown-up fishing for rainbow and brook trout in southwest Colorado, I jumped at the chance. He picked me up the next morning; I got my trout stamp, and we were off.We arrived and decided to work our way with the current through a section of water that … [Read more...]

(Un)Fashionable Nostalgia

I grew up wearing second-hand clothes. And hating it. Shopping was always ritual in humiliation. The psychology of used clothing, at least when you’re in high school, is all about branding. If I could buy a brand that was popular enough, Goodwill would always outdo Wal-Mart.When I didn’t find the right brand, when the cool clothes just weren’t there or didn’t fit, I'd go for the obscure names and console myself with the conviction that my obscure threads were actually cooler than cool. I suppos … [Read more...]

Mercy for Gosnell, For Us All

I tend to ramble and write down all the details, leaving them fussily thrown about, in piles and pieces and mess, for you to make sense of. A lot of that is by choice, trying to copycat this or that brilliant writer who has true randomness in her prose, a trait that I fiercely envy. But some of it is just the way this stuff comes out. Editing is tough work, mainly because there is a lot of stuff that, even though it's not perfect, it is as good as it will get.On Friday I felt the way I tend to … [Read more...]

“Google Nose” Smells Funny and Familiar: A Sun Blemish

People got offended by Google's choice to feature a sketch of Cesar Chavez today, Easter Sunday. I have very little to say that First Things editor, Matthew Schmitz, didn't cover in his excellent and timely blog post, "Why It's Fitting to Remember Cesar Chavez on Easter Sunday."Those who remain unconvinced, should read "The Passion of Cesar Chavez," published in Crisis Magazine almost a year ago.The lesson is this: if there is an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel, then doing otherwise is, w … [Read more...]

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 Unamuno's … [Read more...]

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

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 the … [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

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 mean, 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, to g … [Read more...]