The Culture Wars Are Over

It began when a mostly intelligent, cheeky, and sometimes rabble-rousing group of students I befriended at Wabash College found themselves short on fresh ingredients. Their publication, The Wabash Commentary, was born from the conservative side of the culture wars, the attempted counter-reformation to the 60's and 70's. Of course, at Wabash, an all-male liberal arts college founded in 1832, things were running a decade and a half behind --- and I consider this proclivity towards t … [Read more...]

The Sacred Excess of Christmas

Dear Fellow Catholics,Merry Christmas! Cristus natus est!It's party time. A time to feast and laugh and sing and make merry.A time to forgive debts and loosen belts. A generous time. A time to give and receive.There is a rigor to this holy season. It's a twelve day party. Stamina and grace are key. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Christmas is not a single day; it is plural. A season that began on the Feast of the Nativity and will continue until Epiphany.Are you pre … [Read more...]

Those Immune to Violence Arm and Disarm

My late Tio "Manino" (short for Marcelino) had an bottle of Mexican brandy beside his recliner. Presidente. He was well into his eighties, past his drinking prime, so I asked what it was for. He replied that, with all the break-ins and robberies and murders that were commonplace in his neighborhood, especially ones targeting the elderly, he had come up with a strategy: if a thug entered his small trailer-house he'd tell him there's nothing to be stolen, nothing of value, but he'd invite the … [Read more...]

A Quiet Joy, I Suppose

The easy excuse is "I've been grading." But it's not true. I write most when I'm busy. My productivity thrives on pressure. I've run up on a shore of some kind, somewhere. I don't know what to call it yet. A disposition just shy of melancholy. Paralyzing, in a satisfying way. When sleep finally conquers and washes over you and knocks you out and brings you the rest you need. That sort of paralysis. A surrender of sorts. It's kept me from writing and arguing. It's made me feel a few things, but … [Read more...]

The Politics of Guadalupe

In loving memory of Fr. Sam Homsey C.PP.S. (1910 - 2004) As a teenager, I played basketball on a small cement slab behind the parish rectory where we lived. My Dad was the pastoral coordinator at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church (in Brady, Texas) at the time. I was told that the place I played at was once the entryway for a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. In that small chapel, there would be Spanish-language Masses offered for the Mexican faithful who attended Mass in Spanish. I d … [Read more...]

Dear (New) Atheists, Meet Zizek and Paglia

I am writing beneath about 200 pages of final papers I have to read and grade, so this week will be mostly videos and a special something I have planned for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.I plan on going into some depth on this subject later, so consider this a primer of sorts. Many atheists on Twitter (and some at the Patheos atheist channel) seem to rely on rather narrow governing assumptions about what atheism is. Most of them replicate lots of the insults, and some of the substance, … [Read more...]

A Shepherd Must Be

The man who writes longhand, Pope Benedict XVI, has a Twitter account. Eight of them, to be exact. Maybe more? @Pontifex, in every tongue. What will he say? What will he Tweet? Will he type? What? Questions create hashtags: irreverent, obscene, loathing, adoring, pious, honest, curious, silly, cute and clever. Asking, ridiculing, wondering, defending. Why would he come here, to this wild place? Why dwell in virtual reality, this projection, this wastebasket for time and thought? What brings … [Read more...]

Haw Wins: Pagan Christianity and the New Apologetics

In my recent reflection on James Wellman's book on Rob Bell, I tried to steer away from dismissing Bell altogether. I tried to be generous without being dishonest. I'm not sure if I did that, but I was left with an aloof sense that I didn't really have my say. "Oh well, no need to always be so critical." I moved on to my next book assignment: From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart. In it, I found nothing less than a complete take-down of the religious fads that Rob Bell and others have come to … [Read more...]

Two Notre Dame Rebuttals

My post yesterday defending Notre Dame produced a mostly interesting comment box --- including some classic Petrine wit. I also received several e-mails, all of them very thoughtful and honest, regardless of their opinion on the matter. As a result, I realize that I ended up casting too wide a net, trapping fish I never intended to catch, and also weaving a net with too wide a mesh, conveniently letting certain fish pass through that perhaps do not deserve it.And then there is this: Sycamore … [Read more...]

When a Roman Catholic Reads About Rob Bell, What Does He See?

A few years ago, while I was in graduate school, I sang and played guitar for the contemporary services at Peace Lutheran Church in Gahanna, Ohio. After being there for nearly a year, the assistant pastor introduced me to Rob Bell. He gave me a copy of Velvet Elvis and told me I could keep it if I gave him a full report. (A review. The same thing that got me to read this book.) He wanted to know what I thought. I did my duty. Pencil in hand, I worked through the whole book in an hour and a half. … [Read more...]


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