Early in his career, Bob Newhart won several Grammy awards (including “Album of the Year”) for his his debut comedy album, “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart”.
Something about David Mills’ new blog at Patheos reminds me of that album. It’s look is deliberately buttoned-down and unfussy. There are no extraneous photos, and nothing is presented to you but the Mind of David Mills.
Whether you think that mind buttoned-down or not is of course a matter of perspective. Some may remember Mills from his masthead days at Touchstone and First Things; some might remember in particular his popular, often wryly observant, First Things column called “While We’re at It”.
Mills and his wife and four children were received into the Catholic Church in 2001, a story he shared at The Coming Home Network.
He is the author of two books, and hosts his newspaper writing and such over here at CatholicSense.org, and now he is blogging here at Patheos, where he has quickly set his mind and sensibilities to work on the distinctions between shofar and clarinet, his concerns about possible reforms to our teaching on marriage and divorce (“Orthodoxy does go farther than the Catholic Church teaches Scripture allows, but the rules aren’t nearly so lax as these advocates of liberalizing marriage claim.”), the Holy Eucharist as meal, the social “problem” of having a large family and, excerpted here, ambivalent war criminals:
Maybe we just expect our monsters to be consistent. The man who hates and then kills, he makes sense, because he acts on his feelings. But the man who sympathizes, who sees the other man as a fellow human being worthy of regard and care, and then kills him anyway, he doesn’t make sense. Or maybe he does make sense, and the sense he makes tells us something horrifying about the nature of evil.
Rod Dreher has called David Mills “a gift” and writes
“[He is] one of the most intelligent, most gifted Christian writers and editors in the country — something that is clear to most people who read him and read the magazines he has edited. What may not be clear to those who don’t know David personally is that he is a man of wisdom, integrity and uncommon moral courage. I’ve seen this in him in various ways over the years, but what comes to mind this morning is an occasion in the past in which he stood up for me at a time and in a place where it was hard to do. It was an instance where it stood to win him no friends, and in fact potentially earn him powerful enemies. I’ve never forgotten it.
I know more than one writer who has said something similar of Mills. It is a distinct pleasure to have such a great writer blogging, while he’s at it, here at Patheos.