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...]

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...]


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