Correcting a Correction of Evangelii Gaudium, para 54. UPDATED

It is very annoying for this to be the first thing I say about Pope Francis' rich and inspiring apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, but this post at Catholic Culture demands it. The post asserts that there is a "key error in translation" in the English version, although the author himself relies on Google translate --- hardly an authoritative source for translations.The author also tips his hand when he parenthetically questions why these errors "always seem to tilt in the same … [Read more...]

Discussion on the Mount?

Over at First Thoughts, there is a post titled, "The Lecture Works, and It Always Has." Although it oversimplifies the issue, it does a good job of bluntly stating the obvious fact that there is something about the art of lecturing that will not soon go away.I think lectures will endure in human life --- they are highly effective ways of communicating, and can be quite beautiful and transformative --- but they may be banned from many of our colleges and universities someday. There are many … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]


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