The Wrong Correspondence

The genius of Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" is the psychological reversal that occurs when the sensitive reader realizes that she's behaving like the lowest class of characters in the story: Nippers, Turkey, and Ginger, the absurd and bitter officemates of the enigmatic protagonist, Bartleby.Melville evokes an identical frustration in the reader as the one he describes in the story, amongst the furious colleagues of the scrivener who prefers not to. Only Bartleby and the Narrator, who … [Read more...]

Abortion Beyond Poli-Tricks

Rocha FUS 2013 talk poster

Just over a month ago, I gave a lecture at Franciscan University of Steubenville, sponsored by Students for a Fair Society, based on the work I've been doing for a short, forthcoming book on abortion, to be published by Patheos Press in 2014.Soon thereafter, Tristyn Bloom, a junior fellow at First Things, gave an excellent talk at Yale University, printed at The Federalist. The particulars of her talk are different --- and more diplomatic towards pro-lifers --- but the general trajectory is, … [Read more...]

Overzealous Evangelism Sucks

I think that one reason some people don't like Pope Francis is because he doesn't suck at evangelizing.I'm at the airport right now, sitting at my terminal, recovering from an experience I think we are all familiar with, in many different settings. In this case, it was an overzealous TSA worker in the airport security line.I don't envy the job: the recent furloughs, the hours, the uniforms, the thankless work, the fact that many people --- myself included --- think that this whole … [Read more...]

Disposable Pleasures

When my children see a movie they like, they want to see it again. Immediately. And again. Same with stories and books and most of life's pleasures."Read it again!"I love going to the movies. Always have. There is something about the whole ritual of movie-going. Add to that, I can afford to go, and get a drink and popcorn if I want to, when not too long ago I couldn't.This is what being rich is for me. Able to eat out and go to movies. Order pizza. Fishing, when it's warm. … [Read more...]

A Hellish Wit

When I see a billboard or bumper-sticker that reads "HELL IS REAL," I usually smile and wonder what, exactly, the person behind it is trying to convey. I also think the same thing when I overhear (or oversee, on Facebook) conversations about how important it is to believe in hell, sin, Satan, and eternal damnation these days. Even the more sophisticated debates and books, on soteriology and Von Balthasaar et al, strike me as being somewhat hard to parse out in terms of the real objective of th … [Read more...]

Boredom is Laziness

We live in a culture of boredom. It may seem odd that, within the most overstimulated society in human history, there is such rampant boredom, but I am not sure that this is quite as odd as it seems. These apparent --- and delightful --- contradictions are riddled across the flux of  life, in all of its forms.The real question is simpler and more direct. What is boredom and what can be done about it?Here is the situation: My two sons are generally occupied without interruption, but they … [Read more...]

“A Tell-All Insincerity…”

"A tell-all insincerity..." --- this phrase has prevented me from writing here lately.A dear friend, whom I respect enormously, thinks that most blogs are afflicted with, as he puts it, "a tell-all insincerity."He's right, of course.The quandary for me is that I also value self-disclosure. I've been obsessed with Augustine's Confessions for going on four years now. The response to my friend's challenge is not to shut down. The question is how to self-disclose and confess well, with … [Read more...]

Beauty Will Survive

Beauty may not save the world, but it can do more than that: beauty will survive.There is no reason to worry or feel insecure about the fate of beauty.Beauty will be okay.Beauty is, always has been, even in deep time, and the future will not be any different.This prediction cannot be supported, but it is true: beauty needs nothing to be.Beauty flirts with and seduces nihilism, with total hope.The universal beauty of things --- the world, history, eternity, and what may … [Read more...]

To Be Otherwise

Christ's passion begins with the simple fact that he knows he is the Son of God, and people routinely treat him otherwise.For the human person, this is a perverse form of suffering.It gnaws at our most potent temptations: pride, self-pity, vanity, envy, despair, selfishness, imbalance of every kind.This is metaphysical conceit.It is not born of falsehood, nor deceit.It begins with deep internal conviction, a self-knowledge of what is true."I know that I love my beloved, … [Read more...]

Update: Thank You, Fall Schedule, Books, and Album

It's been just over a year now that I've been blogging at Patheos. That year has coincided with our relocation to North Dakota. The winters here are long and brutal. Without Patheos --- you the readers, and the beautiful motley crew of writers at the Catholic Channel, Los Patheosi --- I don't know what I would've done.Thank you.I should especially thank Elizabeth Scalia, who gave me my shot and who puts up with my antics and promotes my stuff.*This Fall will be my busiest to date … [Read more...]