September 20, 2018

Given the recent news about the sexual abuses committed in seminaries, I’ve been thinking a lot about elitism. It seems to me that these particular clerical abuses were not only the result of moral depravity, but also a thirst for power and status. In other words, they were about “the Inner Ring.” C.S. Lewis and “The Inner Ring” In 1944, C.S. Lewis gave the Memorial Lecture at King’s College, at the University of London. In this talk, he describes our… Read more

September 15, 2018

Why on earth would we celebrate Our Lady of Sorrows? How could the pain she felt at the foot of the Cross be a feast? This feast recalls the seven scriptural references to Mary’s great suffering. Not only did she bear enormous burdens, she “kept all these things in her heart,” (Luke 2:51) contemplating and reflecting on them. The Sorrowful Mother teaches us that a capacity to accompany demands a capacity to hurt. A powerful love goes hand in hand… Read more

September 13, 2018

You could describe me as a beauty junkie. I crave it, and seek it out out at any cost. Yesterday, I endured a grueling 18.7 mile hike in the mountains in western Montana just to appreciate the view from the summit. I need beauty because it places everything in perspective. In the words of Shakespeare, beauty reminds me that there is “more in Heaven and Earth” than I could dream. It is through beauty that the human heart is led… Read more

September 9, 2018

What does neuroscience have to do with faith? Can it aid our self-understanding as religious people? Or will the new Scientific Revolution destroy the illusion of religion? Philosopher, neuroscientist, and skeptic Sam Harris certainly thinks so. In his book Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, Harris writes: The feeling that we call “I” is an illusion. There is no discrete self or ego living like a Minotaur in the labyrinth of the brain. And the feeling that there is —… Read more

September 6, 2018

I decided to read a Tom Wolfe novel recently. First of all, as a tribute to his life. Secondly, because I discovered he was fascinated by neuroscience (as all the best people are). I was curious to find out if he addressed the philosophical implications of brain research, so I picked up I Am Charlotte Simmons. I Am Charlotte Simmons: the plot The novel’s protagonist is a wholesome 18-year-old girl from Sparta, a tiny rural community in the mountains of North… Read more

September 2, 2018

I’m not prepared to share my words about the atrocities spelled out in the Pennsylvania report. For now, my aim is to enter into the suffering of the victims. In the words of Pope Francis, “may fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled.” In this process of listening, I cannot help but draw from my studies of trauma. As a scientist, I know the neurobiological and psychological consequences of… Read more

August 30, 2018

Growing up, I was never the athletic one of the family. While my siblings excelled in all things sports, I was always the last one picked for the team in gym and the slowest one to finish the race (if I finished at all). I convinced myself that I has “bad knees,” that I was just “not built” for sports, and gave up before even trying. Now, though, I can keep up with my family on 100-mile bike races, deadlift… Read more

August 26, 2018

We live under a dictatorship. No, I’m not talking about Trump. I’m talking about noise, external and internal noise that damages our brain function and our spiritual life. The dictatorship of noise The postmodern person, according to Robert Cardinal Sarah, lives under a dictatorship of noise. In a long interview with French journalist Nicolas Diat, entitled The Power of Silence, Sarah takes on the worldly powers that strip us of silence. “Noise surrounds us and assaults us. The noise of ceaselessly… Read more

August 23, 2018

When I agreed to write for Patheos, I didn’t think I would have to rehash the evolution debate. But, a couple weeks in, I’ve come to admit I was wrong. It’s going to be quick, but I need to say it. Disclaimer: in this post, I link to works by theologians and scientists (who are much smarter than I am). I don’t agree with everything they say but I find these works quite valuable for understanding the unity of evolution… Read more

August 19, 2018

This summer, I’ve been going to daily Mass at a parish down the street from my internship, where the youngest folks in attendance are baby boomers. Once the little old ladies got over their shock (“a YOUNG person! at DAILY MASS!!”) they began welcoming me with open arms – literally. During the Sign of Peace, a few walk over to my pew and embrace me with sincere affection. I’m not weirded out by this, because at Notre Dame it’s standard… Read more

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