Pope Francis Against Ideology

A short break in my ongoing attempt to Kickstart my debut album, LATE TO LOVE.*Today at, Ethika Politika, I have an essay — "Francis' Radical Realism: Performance v. Ideology" —  about what I am calling Francis' "radical realism."I trace this idea in three ways: (1) the words and deeds of his own pontificate, (2) the preceding progression of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and (3) in dialogue with the (surprisingly complimentary) thought of Alasdair MacIntyre and Slavoj Zizek.All o … [Read more...]

Profane Praise: On Estuary Music

The expression for 'fresh water' in Spanish is agua dulce — sweet water. I always liked that way of putting it. An estuary is a place where sweet and salty water meet and combine into a brackish ecology of life between land and sea.*I grew up in the sweet waters of the charismatic Roman Catholic Church, leading worship where open major chords strummed in 4/4 and unison choruses ended singing acapella, in men's and woman's parts.Over the last decade of my life, I've discovered and fall … [Read more...]

How to (Not) Destroy Catholic Art

  Catholic art is destroyed at the exact point in which it becomes necessary to have "Catholic" art.*The surging liturgical movement in the Roman Catholic Church over the past decade, often called "traditionalism," is not so much evidence of the strength of Catholic liturgy today but, instead, of its remarkable weakness. We do not see "traditionalists" emerge unless (a) there is no tradition to begin with or (b) until a real tradition is in danger. Otherwise, traditions, real ones, are s … [Read more...]

The Tree of Life: An Overview

   Characters: Father: Brad Pitt. Mother: Jessica Chastain. Adult Eldest Son: Sean Penn. Eldest Son (Jack): darker-haired, big eared, occasionally mean boy. Middle Son: dirty blonde, artist (guitar and painting), gentle boy. Youngest Son: sandy brown hair.   Scenes, in sequential order: The Two Ways: A prism flame in the darkness. Voice: “Brother. Mother. It was they who led me to your door.” The way of grace and the way of nature.Grief: Mother finds out that middle son has bee … [Read more...]

Reviewing The Faithful Traveler, on EWTN

  Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows that I strongly dislike two things: EWTN television and radio programming and Matthew Kelly's shoddy and sentimental Catholic give-away books.Diana von Glahn (above), host and co-creator of EWTN's The Faithful Traveler, surely knew this. She contacted me anyway, offering me a full preview of the latest season that will air from February 17-22, at 6:30 pm (and 3 am), featuring sites from the Holy Land.She called me out. I don't know h … [Read more...]

Deschooling RED: Beyond the Fear of Failure

In 1840, Horace Mann, the first Secretary of Education in the State of New Hampshire (and anywhere else in the United States), wrote these words in an article for the third volume of the newly-founded Common School Journal, on his beloved and controversial Whig project, The Common School Movement: Let the common school be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked to the efficiency of which it is susceptible, and nine-tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long … [Read more...]

Deschooling Religious Education, in Six Claims

1. Compulsory schooling came to the United States in the 18th century, during the Whig "common school movement," built on the Prussian model that was founded after the advent of the Prussian research university. The first compulsory schooling laws were passed in the late 1850's, in New Hampshire and New York. A lot of that movement was motivated by a defensive belief that parents could not be trusted to raise their children. This is where the legal concept of in loco parentis came from.2. … [Read more...]

Deschooling Religious Ed

The ideological assumption that 'schooling' and 'education' are synonyms, that they both describe the same exact thing, has sunk so deeply into our collective consciousness, that it is at this point ubiquitous. Common sense has gone insane.Homeschooling, for the most part, is nothing more than schooling in a home. The kitchen table replaces the desk, but the textbook and the formulaic curricula remain.So much of the dreary  institutionalization that measures-out time into Mondays, … [Read more...]

Reality and the Virtual: Relativity is not Relativism

My previous post on relativism has been mostly well received, to my great surprise. It has also been critiqued in some very useful and important ways, in comments and elsewhere. I am not going to try and write a direct response here; the comment box was actually quite useful and I don't care to add the complexity of rejoinders to what was already a long and tedious post.The most unexpected non-reply was from the great fighters of relativism, the culture warriors, who probably didn't have … [Read more...]

The Splenda of Truth: Remarks on Relativism

Those who are greatly upset by, and concerned about, relativism usually say that they are principally concerned about the truth. If this is the case — if indeed the ultimate aim is to defend the truth — then it would make sense to be upfront and honest about the truth of what relativism is and is not. Otherwise, there is something amiss and asymmetrical about the whole situation.Sadly, this messy lack of symmetry is where I see things today in discussions amongst anti-relativists. In fact, on … [Read more...]


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