For Post-Christmas: Unwrap a Bit of Silence

My Photo, 1995

The silence of which we sing so wistfully at Midnight Mass, is at an all-time premium at Christmas; it is so difficult to find a silent night, let alone sit within one and become immersed in it, that the possibility of a seasonal soothing of the heart—a quieting of the grief of the world—seems the stuff of illusion and myth.Christmas has, in too many ways, become the equivalent of an overdone theme-park vacation. By its end, one is knock-kneed with exhaustion and desperately in need of a gen … [Read more...]

Mothers and Sons: The Atomic Truth

My image, taken at Christmas 2014

My husband, sitting across the table at breakfast, pointed to a lovely photograph in today's Wall Street Journal: under a heading, "In Detroit, Christmas Means Volunteering for Many Jews, Muslims" was an image of two women, one wearing hijab, working together in the kitchen of Congregation Beth Shalom, to feed the homeless on Christmas Day.The article is not online but there are other sources telling the story.The press is so frequently negative about religion, particularly about … [Read more...]

Obama and Francis: Authoritarianism is Bad, Until it’s Fine

So, I'm watching Obama single-handedly alter our relations with Cuba, and we're reading from Politico that the president is feeling liberated and ready to be the president he always wanted to be -- that is, a president who doesn't deal with Congress and pretty much does as he damn pleases.I used to say Obama didn't want to be president, with all of its haggling and jawboning; he just wanted to be the ceremonial prince, making speeches about end-results. Seems, though, that what he has always … [Read more...]

Middle Aged Women and the Challenge of Laughter

In my neighborhood there are a couple of women, about 50 years of age, who will several times a week take a noonish walk about the block.This morning they were early and one of them must have said something hilariously funny to the other. As I … [Read more...]

Telling National Review What I’m Thankful For

Over at National Review, they asked a few folks to share what they are truly thankful for, in the Year of Our Lord, 2014. Given my grouses about the holiday, my answer might surprise some:This Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks to God for the lives of my in-laws, one a daughter of Sicily and the other the son of immigrants. They are either approaching age 80, or on the other side of it, and 2014 has been the first year either of them have had to deal with a serious health issue. As ever, they … [Read more...]

“Gradualism is Another Word for License.” No, It’s Not.

I keep seeing these same six words all over social media:"Gradualism is another word for license."Think so? Really? No possibility that it is the process of grace, working within us?So, no grace at work, here? an atheist-turned-nun: I was attending Mass for an entire year before I went to confession. I don’t make excuses for myself. My soul was not in the proper state to be receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, but it took time for grace to work in me in order for me to realize t … [Read more...]

The End of the Beginning

So, here we are - my time as a guest blogger here at the Anchorhold has come to an end.I have to emphasise the extent to which this whole thing came as a bolt from the blue - a random act of grace. I emailed Elizabeth to get Leah Libresco's email address because I was trying to see if she'd give a talk while she was visiting Ireland. Leah ended up doing the talk (we're still talking about it), and I ended up doing a guest post for her blog while she was over here. Then Elizabeth invited me … [Read more...]

Why Does Moral Absolutism Work (Some of the Time)?

written in stone

Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam recently had a very cordial exchange on the merits of legalising prostitution – so cordial, in fact, that they were accused of doing Twitter fights wrong.Salam was making a reluctant case based on harm reduction, which followed a familiar pattern: “people are going to buy sex anyway, and legalising it will make things safer for those selling sex.” Douthat, in defending the Swedish model (where selling sex is not criminalised, but buying is) made two arguments. Th … [Read more...]

Christian Right? Christian Left? It’s Great to Have a Christian Anything

I’ve written two posts worth of thoughts on the idea of an authentically Christian left-wing political movement, and they’ve mostly consisted of cautions and warnings – obstacles to be overcome, temptations to be avoided.That may run the risk of under-emphasising how glad I am that people are thinking about such a movement, and indeed, how glad I am that it’s possible for people of all political stripes to unabashedly talk, in mainstream media outlets, about being inspired, not just by the ch … [Read more...]


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