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 criminals. … [Read more...]

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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 his … [Read more...]

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Why I’m Not Writing About the Trayvon Martin Case

The easy, short answer is that I don't have time. It really is that simple, too simple. Unclear.I worry that some of my more critical readers have confused the difference between simplicity and oversimplification.Of course things often reduce to a simple core reality. At the same time, these simple things can rarely be accounted for with "simple" talk. Perhaps silence is best. But that leaves much to be desired, too, sometimes.I value clarity as a form of fidelity. For me, to be "clear" is … [Read more...]

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LIVE FREE AND DIE

Libertines, everywhere. We have conservative libertines, liberal libertines, secular libertines, and religious libertines. We have reactionary libertines, sexual libertines, social libertines, cannabis libertines, economic libertines, and anarchist libertines. Groupie communitarian libertines, solo individualistic libertines, populist proletariat libertines, and ironic aristocrat libertines. Indigenous sovereignty libertines, nativist isolationist libertines, border-crossing pragmatic … [Read more...]

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Mercy for Gosnell, For Us All

I tend to ramble and write down all the details, leaving them fussily thrown about, in piles and pieces and mess, for you to make sense of. A lot of that is by choice, trying to copycat this or that brilliant writer who has true randomness in her prose, a trait that I fiercely envy. But some of it is just the way this stuff comes out. Editing is tough work, mainly because there is a lot of stuff that, even though it's not perfect, it is as good as it will get.On Friday I felt the way I tend to … [Read more...]

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Beyond Abortion: Gosnell and a New Dark Age

My sister delivered a healthy baby boy the day before yesterday. When I called to congratulate her, I asked to be spared from the details. When my wife gave birth to our second son, I was the one about pass out during the epidural.This past November, when I saw the headlines about Savita, I tried to ignore it because I have no stomach for delivery room gore. When I did read the stories a day later, my response was angry and indignant. I was pissed. Pissed, but hopeful. I thought we could move … [Read more...]

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Immigration Seen Through Catholic, Pastoral Eyes

No one, I think, wants to read a blog by a Texican all about present-day, US immigration debates. Too predictable, right?Not quite.Although I was born in a bordertown (Brownsville, Texas), I do not come from immigrant ancestors, in the recent immediate sense of the issue. My maternal and paternal Hispanic families pre-date the United States' aquisition of the southwest. To borrow Gloria Anzaldúa's expression: the border crossed us, literally.Nonetheless, the issue of immigration strikes me … [Read more...]

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“Google Nose” Smells Funny and Familiar: A Sun Blemish

People got offended by Google's choice to feature a sketch of Cesar Chavez today, Easter Sunday. I have very little to say that First Things editor, Matthew Schmitz, didn't cover in his excellent and timely blog post, "Why It's Fitting to Remember Cesar Chavez on Easter Sunday."Those who remain unconvinced, should read "The Passion of Cesar Chavez," published in Crisis Magazine almost a year ago.The lesson is this: if there is an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel, then doing otherwise is, w … [Read more...]

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Pope Francis’ First Audience and Missing the Point

Two things.First, Pope Francis' remarks at today's audience are simply remarkable and in perfect step with the early weeks of his pontificate. Here is an excerpt: Jesus lived the daily realities of most ordinary people: He was moved by the crowd that seemed like a flock without a shepherd, and He cried in front of the suffering of Martha and Mary on the death of their brother Lazarus; He called a tax collector to be His disciple and also suffered the betrayal of a friend. In Christ, God has … [Read more...]

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A Hot Mess: Marriage, Derrida, Nabokov, and Whatnot

I don't really understand what the same sex marriage hullabaloo is about. I can understand it at a personal, anecdotal level. I know a great many people who are upset and concerned and animated about this issue. But I do not have a clear grasp of what is really going on.As a Roman Catholic, I understand marriage as a sacrament. I'm not even sure what it means to be "married" outside of the sacrament of marriage. I guess filing taxes is the only place where it makes some concrete sense to … [Read more...]

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