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...]

When Prayer Goes Wrong

I think I fasted on Saturday. It didn't feel very penitential, but I was also very busy and didn't have much time to do a good job. But I did the basics. Followed the rules.I was teaching a course in Fargo, an hour south of Grand Forks, for a doctoral cohort of school administrators. The reading for the day was Marx.I like to pray for things with Gethsemane in mind. Job, too. I can only imagine the apostles, praying to God, begging for their Rabbi to be spared. They didn't understand, … [Read more...]

Christ, the Prisoner: Webb on Von Balthasar and Prison Ministry

  Stephen Webb has written a short and powerful reflection on Christ's descent into hell at First Things today. The post reads in the style of a testimonial homiletic. Short, imaginative, rooted in scripture, and personal. Moving, too. Webb begins by disputing Von Balthasar's thesis in  Mysterium Paschale through his own alternative reading of Christ descending into hell as a prisoner. A preaching prisoner.He writes, Jesus, after all, was condemned as a criminal and died between two cri … [Read more...]

An Aesthetic Critique of Youth Ministry: Miley Cyrus vs. Bonnie Raitt

MARC BARNES' CRITIQUE OF YOUTH MINISTRY has, predictably, gone viral. Today there is a measured and intelligent response posted at Fr. Robert Barron's site, The Word on Fire, written by Fr. Damian J. Ference.This back and forth reveals many studious and sophisticated things: church documents and properly understood Catholic teaching and tradition. The important stuff.The only thing I will add to that discussion is this: there is no reason to assume that, if parents are the primary ed … [Read more...]

From the Bottum Up: The Pathos of Joseph Bottum

Yesterday, at Commonweal, the former editor of First Things, Joeseph Bottum, published an essay, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, that claims to make "A Catholic's Case for Same-Sex Marriage."The essay is not the sort of thing one is used to reading on the internet these days. It twitches and rewinds and plods along, filling time to avoid the break-up talk. It requires patience and, oddly enough, an ability to set a hot button issue aside for a moment and give Bottum a chance to speak … [Read more...]

Two Faces of Credibility

There are two competing lines of thought, etched in my mind, oscillating back and forth, affecting the way I feel about myself and my work. When they are separated and speak univocally, they ring true, but too harsh. When they are taken together, as a whole, they verge on being boring and forgettably balanced or, even worse, contradictory.I am allergic to credentialism, clericalism, and all easy appeals to authority. This is a reality I experience internally and externally. The former is the … [Read more...]

Compulsory Schooling and Preventative War — Or, Why Children Have to Go to School

In the secular liturgical cycle of the American year, two seasonal certainties stand out: going to school and filing taxes. In the late summer and early fall, we send our children to school under penalty of law. (Even students at charter, private, or home schools are still under the same structural authority, leveraged by truancy laws, as those who attend public schools.) In the late winter and early spring, we file taxes under similar legal compulsion.We all know that truancy and tax … [Read more...]

Why We Do Not Have Free Will

Patheos is hosting a symposium on the question "Do we have free will?" --- one the classic questions of philosophy, psychology, and the humanities in general, a question rich in religious significance and theological implications, a ridiculous question.I'll take a shot at it.My reply is very simple, albeit perhaps deceiving in its point of emphasis.We do not have free will.The positive way to put it would be to correct the original question and posit the following as an … [Read more...]

Are You Not Entertained? (Or, How Fr. Z Beat Me at Our Own Game)

There is nothing subtle about what happened to my blog this weekend. It exploded.Against all norms --- i.e., weekends are supposed to be quiet and forgettable --- and expectations, my post on Fr. Z took off and indicates that July 2013 will be a record month.My pragmatic feelings about this are wholly positive. The end of summer teaching term brings a pay gap. I could use the spare change that the extra web-traffic generates on the Patheos payment model.But I have other feelings … [Read more...]


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