On Being a Missionary


In the Evangelical Fundamentalist world in which I was raised our heroes were the missionaries. These courageous men and women gave up everything to go live in the jungle or some other God forsaken, rat infested place to preach the gospel. They went to the desert of North Africa, the jungles of Burma and countered [Read More...]

Historicism and Heresy


My article for Imaginative Conservative website this week is an examination of historicism–the idea that there is no over arching meaning to history, but that all is random.  I remember being delighted by the Sunday School teacher’s play on words when she retold the Old Testament sagas and explained that history was “His Story”. I was [Read More...]

Pope Francis Lectures the Europeans


Today’s article for Aleteia sees Pope Francis’ recent speeches to the European Parliament and Council of Europe in the light of his interest in end times. Most of all, Pope Francis engaged the Europeans with the underlying spiritual malaise of the developed world. Noting the cynical and weary attitude of Europeans, said there is a “great [Read More...]

Movie Popes

Sir John Gielgud as Pius XII

  My article for Aleteia this week catalogues the various portrayals of popes on film–from Jeremy Irons’ Alexander VI to Alec Guiness’ Innocent III Struck by the underlying drama of the papacy (and being somewhat of a movie buff), I began to explore the portrayal of popes on film. Some of the world’s finest actors [Read More...]

The General Thanksgiving


I do sometimes miss the Church of England and the Book of Common Prayer. For Thanksgiving Day here is Cranmer’s “General Thanksgiving” Have a great day! ALMIGHTY God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men;  We [Read More...]

Thanksgiving and Puddleglum


One of the simplest bits of evidence for the existence of God is the human instinct to give thanks. What is this strange impulse in the human heart to thank someone? We stop and pause on  the mountaintop and view the expansive sky  and we are swept with wonder and want to give thanks. We [Read More...]

The Fires of Ferguson and the Dynamic of Blame

The Fires of Ferguson

The violence erupting in Ferguson, Missouri is not really about racial tension or socio economic inequality. It’s not about class struggle or police brutality or social injustice. It’s a symptom of a much deeper poison which I call the Dynamic of Blame. Rooted within every human heart is the stain of original sin. Now, when [Read More...]

The Pros and Cons of a Married Priesthood – 2

Greek Catholic Priest and Wife

My problem in researching the married priesthood is that whenever I find a good argument against, I immediately come up with an equally good argument in favor. Here’s an example: “The married priest will not be able to devote himself exclusively to his vocation as a priest. He will either be so busy as a [Read More...]

A Married Priest on Married Priests – 1

The Longenecker Family at Fr Dwight's Ordination

What are the pros and cons of being a married priest? I’ll be writing on various aspects of this question over the next few days. Firstly, we need to get some huge red herrings out of the way. People say, “A married man will understand married people’s problems better than a celibate man.” On the [Read More...]

Anglicans Wonder Why No One Comes to Church on Sunday

Anglican Worship

  An article in the Daily Telegraph ponders why the number of people attending parish churches in England continues to plummet. While attendance at cathedral worship is up, the number of worshippers in the local churches is in free fall. The Anglicans, of course, are not the only ones. All the churches in the Western [Read More...]

A Married Priest on Married Priests

The Longenecker Family at Fr Dwight's Ordination

Last week I was asked by an editor at the New York Times to contribute a very short article as part of a forum on the issue of married priests in the Catholic Church. She asked me specifically to outline some practical reasons against having married priests. I did so, and thereby received a fair [Read More...]

The Radical Vision of the Christian Family

I was asked to comment on the marriage-family crisis in our society. This interview was published elsewhere last week. I thought it would combine to make a good blog post. Enjoy. Is there a marriage crisis in the United States? How would you characterize it? “Crisis” is a good word to use because part of [Read More...]

CSL and JFK – Two Jacks

Two Jacks

Today is the fifty first anniversary of the death of C.S.Lewis. He died, of course, on the same afternoon that JFK was gunned down in Texas. Both men were nicknamed “Jack” and that’s pretty much where the similarity ends. The two Jacks symbolize two different ways through the world. Jack Lewis stands for the world of [Read More...]

Padre in the NYT

Eastern rite priest with family

  I was asked to contribute this small piece to the New York Times on the subject of priestly celibacy. Catholics may think it nice and easy to support a married man with two children. But if the man and his wife are young and fertile, can Catholics support a large clerical family? Do they [Read More...]

Is “I Am Legend” a Christian Film?


My article for Imaginative Conservative this week is an analysis of the Christian symbolism and themes in the sic fi horror film I Am Legend The film conveys the tense dread of living alone in an abandoned city inhabited only by humans who have turned into monsters. The atmosphere of a New York that has become [Read More...]

Living in the Past in the Present

Wilbur Burnham designing a stained glass window

Part of being a Catholic is to live in the past in the present. What I am getting at is the idea that the universality of the Catholic faith means that it transcends not only particular cultural circumstances and particular locales, but it also transcends time. Think about it. At Mass the priest comes out [Read More...]

Are US Bishops Attacking Pope Francis?


My article for Aleteia this week asks whether conservative Benedict XVI appointed bishops are out to get Pope Francis. In a highly biased report, radical progressive Michael Sean Winters twisted the Archbishop’s comments into criticism of Pope Francis. Archbishop Chaput replied, “There are people who…deliberately want to twist the truth, and divide the Church, and [Read More...]

Is There a List of Mortal Sins?


One of the strengths and weaknesses of the internet age is that people write to strangers with personal problems which are often complex, but there is no context or background. So I’ll get an email out of the blue from someone I don’t know asking “What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? [Read More...]

I’ll Be Back


I’ve had a lot of other stuff to think about the last few days, and the head that usually thinks about churchy blog type stuff has been otherwise occupied. I haven’t given up though. I’ll be back. [Read more...]

Life is a Casting Off


What is it in me that likes the difficult sayings of Jesus more than the easy sayings? Everybody loves Jesus who says, “Let the little children come to me” and “Neither do I condemn you” But have you read the gospels lately?  Jesus’ teaching is much more forceful and strident than we like to remember. [Read More...]

Old Monk on Stability

Novice: I think God is calling me to join a different community Old Monk: As you go you will be taking the problem of this community with you. [Read more...]

The Vulnerability of Beauty

The Abbey of St Antimo, Tuscany, Italy - one of the inspirations for the new Our Lady of the Rosary

A friend of mine once exclaimed, “Oh, the vulnerability of beauty in a world of useful things!” What he was observing is the fact that beauty cuts across utilitarian and economic ideals. Of course a thing that is efficient and useful might also be beautiful, but something which seeks to be beautiful first of all [Read More...]