Pope Francis, Our American Pope

I just arrived in Portland, Oregon. It was a long, beautiful train ride. My pope alarm was rendered useless by rural Montana, but I eventually got the word, narrated over the phone by my wife. Since then, I've consumed news in the patches of 3G service available.Needless to say, I'm not very well informed. But I do hope to read some of his works in Spanish and provide some commentary in the months to come, before the translations begin to pour out. As usual, this isn't journalism. Just … [Read more...]

Papal Indifference and The Will of God at the Bowling Alley

I don't care who our next pope will be. I find the fanfare understandable and laudable at times, but mostly lackluster. Even slightly annoying. I think a Patheos blogger already wrote about that.Here and there, in conversations I've had lately, I've mentioned that globalizing the papacy makes me uneasy. I think I prefer Italian popes. But I really don't care. I suspect that comment is just to make conversation interesting.I've even found myself indifferent to the papacy in general. I mean, I … [Read more...]

Economics Makes Us Crazy

I have no misgivings about, nor apologies for, my near total ignorance of economics. I don't know the special terms nor do I possess insight or erudition about its governing concepts and intellectual history. Sure, I've read a thing or two. But nothing technical. In the very little I have read, especially around election time, I get the impression that the application of econometrics to business and politics are, more often than not, inexact or flat out wrong.Economics as we (don't) know it, … [Read more...]

Benedict XVI: A Portrait of Humility

I was a senior at Franciscan University of Steubenville when Pope John Paul II died. It is hard to describe the rich melancholy that hung in the air that day. The anxiety and uncertainty. The sorrow. We, the students, had only known one pope for our entire lives. It was a sad, disorienting day.We should have seen it coming, and of course we did. Everyone did. I recall the indignation I felt when the media, and sometimes other Catholics, would call for him to resign because of his poor health. … [Read more...]

“White History Month”

Two years ago, during my first year of teaching at Wabash College, I was invited to give a "Chapel Talk," a weekly lecture on the speaker's choice. Since I have a natural aversion to controversy, I wrote and delivered the following talk on a bland and safe topic: Black History Month and the notion of race.Since it's February again, I share it here in video and text. I have not done much more work in the philosophy of race since writing this talk, but I do hope to return to it sooner than … [Read more...]

BREAKING NEWS: USCCB to Think About HHS Amendment Sanely and Without the Advice of Drudge, Huff Post, or Alike

February 1, 2013 ---In a shocking press release, United States Conference of Bishops made several unexpected moves in response to the Obama administration's proposed modifications to the HHS mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, known by many as Obamacare. In a brief three-sentence memo, Cardinal Timothy Dolan implied a number of cryptic, esoteric, and ridiculous things. Two of the three sentences were particularly disconcerting to American Catholics: We welcome the … [Read more...]

Guns AND Religion?

During Obama's first go-round in 2008, there was a big flare-up surrounding his comment about rural voters bitterly clinging to guns or religion. It was the equivalent of Romney's inelegant 47% remark from this past fiasco election.I've already gone on the record about guns here: "Those Immune to Violence Arm and Disarm." I hope I made myself clear. I am not impressed or persuaded by either side of the Newtown-fueled gun aftermath. I wrote, "I don’t have any solutions because I remain u … [Read more...]

Abortion or Religion? A Quandary

When I taught at Wabash College, there was a Protestant non-demoninational congregation down the road that had a strong presence on campus and was well-known for its anti-Catholicism. Rock Point Church. They were especially prominent among athletes---I personally know of two (former) Catholics whom they convinced to leave the Church. I didn't mind the evangelical side. We do that too. It was their toxic pulpit, ringing with an aggressive, Jack Chick-style of  rhetoric, replete with the usual … [Read more...]

The Culture Wars Are Over

It began when a mostly intelligent, cheeky, and sometimes rabble-rousing group of students I befriended at Wabash College found themselves short on fresh ingredients. Their publication, The Wabash Commentary, was born from the conservative side of the culture wars, the attempted counter-reformation to the 60's and 70's. Of course, at Wabash, an all-male liberal arts college founded in 1832, things were running a decade and a half behind --- and I consider this proclivity towards t … [Read more...]

Those Immune to Violence Arm and Disarm

My late Tio "Manino" (short for Marcelino) had an bottle of Mexican brandy beside his recliner. Presidente. He was well into his eighties, past his drinking prime, so I asked what it was for. He replied that, with all the break-ins and robberies and murders that were commonplace in his neighborhood, especially ones targeting the elderly, he had come up with a strategy: if a thug entered his small trailer-house he'd tell him there's nothing to be stolen, nothing of value, but he'd invite the … [Read more...]


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