“No Exit Catholicism” at Ethika Politika

I've been considering the role of more indirect and oblique routes in building a sense of personal and social Catholic identity for some time now. The main reason, that I don't share in this essay, is intimate and personal. It was this cultural Catholicism, in my own genealogical ties to the Church the beauty of the Liturgy, that kept me Catholic at a time of immense and serious doubt.It was as if I could not fall away, no matter what I decided or how hard I tried. It was strangely comforting … [Read more...]

Don’t Miss “The Image of God,” Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, in Portland, OR, two of my great loves — Terrence Malick's masterpiece, The Tree of Life, and Augustine's Confessions — will be combined into a very exciting event, led by  John O'Callaghan, professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.The event is "The Image of God: Malick's Tree of Life and Augustine," tomorrow, March 22nd, from 3 to 7 pm, in Buckley Center Auditorium at the University of Portland.For those of us who are not able to attend, the event is being live-s … [Read more...]

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 fallen in … [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 been killed in … [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, TGIF's, … [Read more...]