Blurred Lines: Religious Freedom and Indiana SB101

Image public domain via Wikimedia Commons, blurred.

Melinda Selmys believes some lobbyists behind Indiana's SB 101 intend to blur important lines of distinction between authentic religious freedom and “Christian freedom.”[While I am still on book-writing break, Melinda Selmys guest-posts about important distinctions that are becoming blurred in our national discourse on religious freedom and the inviolability of an individual's religious conscience. Melinda is a convert to Catholicism, a contributor at Spiritual Friendship, and the author of 4 … [Read more...]

Empty Tomb: The Improbable First

Mordechai Meiri, courtesy of

As part of Patheos' Easter coverage, some of us are pondering what that morning would have been like for the witnesses of the Resurrection. Imagining the soldiers has been my contribution. For more 'accounts' and other resources for Holy Week, visit the Patheos Engaging Easter page.Empty Tomb: The Improbable First What the soldiers saw by Elizabeth ScaliaHe was not afraid. Of course he was not.Only, he could not seem to open his eyes.The air was soft, light on his skin. In … [Read more...]

What Did Mary Get From Visiting Elizabeth?

Gifts of the Visitation

I have been so busy working on my project that I have nearly forgotten to point you over toward the Patheos Book Club, where they are looking at Denise Bossert's lovely little book, Gifts of the Visitation: Nine Spiritual Encounters with Mary and ElizabethI had the pleasure of meeting Denise during my sadly truncated visit to Israel, and she is one of those people who possesses such a natural depth of beauty and understanding that even casual conversations end up lodged in your memory, … [Read more...]

What Nuns Do on the Annunciation Feast

The Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner/PublicDomain via Wikimediacommons

Our friends, the Dominican Nuns of Summit, NJ have a lovely tradition on the vigil of the Feast of the Annunciation: they process together to the Solemn Chapter for the Solemnity of the Annunciation, and then have the youngest sister-in-religion give a homily, addressing the community for the feast.This year, the honor went to a very-young-in-religion postulant:Mary is the great contemplative, the model for all contemplatives. What God asks of us is also beyond any ability we have, and … [Read more...]

“…and these Thy gifts,” comes to Patheos


As noted in the post below, I am offline until the end of the month on what we might call a mini "book sabbatical" (pray for me!) but it just occurred to me that in my rush to tie up loose ends, I had forgotten to announce a new addition to our immense line-up of great writers. Please make welcome the very patient Stef as she delivers unto us a blog full of -- among other things -- recipes and homeschooling advice.Interestingly, Stef first came to our notice back when the Holy Father was … [Read more...]

For Credibility of the Church, Should Francis Reconsider Barros Appointment?

Juan Barros Madrid via WikimediaCommons/Gabriel12

I never write about these stories because they make me physically ill, so I leave it to others. But it seems like this story is dying on the vine, and I'm not sure it should. And it's Lent, when we're supposed to do difficult things, so here goes.Pope Francis has appointed Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid to a Bishopric in Southern Chile, and Barros is set to be installed there tomorrow, March 21.This may be a problematic appointment, one that blows up in the Holy Father's face, because it … [Read more...]

The Unwitting Compliment Paid to Cordileone and the Church


Hot Air's Ed Morrissey is once again guest-hosting the Drew Mariani Show on Relevant Radio, and this afternoon, around 3PM Eastern, I will be joining him to talk about many things, including Lent, and yesterday's piece on the Archdiocese of San Francisco and what Frank Weathers calls a sort of Catholic Watergate.I wonder, while we are on the subject, what sort of practical solutions might be available -- and not available -- in such a litigious age. Could a Cathedral supply a kind of tent or … [Read more...]

Hosing the Homeless: Important Lesson Still Unlearned from the Scandals

Statement of Archdiocese

By now, you have doubtless heard the story about how the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and particularly Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone are under fire for setting the sprinklers on the homeless in order to discourage loitering around Saint Mary’s Cathedral.It's not a nice story, and it is also a rather "neat" bit of timing that it has broken while Cordileone is being pressured to resist clarifying church teaching and developing morality clauses for the purposes of both instruction and h … [Read more...]

12 Reasons to Love the Irish!

Image copyright Jane McIlroy, via

1) We gave you the Irish Soda Bread Recipe.2) We gave you we gave you Joyce, Yeats and Oscar Wilde.3) We gave you U2. Sorry that Bono can be such a blowhard sometimes, but you know...he's Irish.4) We gave you Errol Flynn.5) And Tom Selleck.6) And John Wayne and Maureen O' Hara.7) And Gene Kelly.8) And the foundation upon which bluegrass and old-timey music were founded.9) We gave you Daniel Day Lewis (hey, he carries an Irish passport). The only Mohegan who can … [Read more...]

A Novus Ordo Even a Latin Mass Fan Could Love

All images mine.

Yesterday, Eve Tushnet, Lisa Mladinch, Tom Zampino, and I had the very great pleasure to participate in a panel on the church and new media at the Oratory Church of St. Boniface, in Brooklyn.The panel was very enjoyable, as the attendees asked some great and sometimes very challenging questions about the impact of blogging and social media and how (or whether) it gives true service to the church, and even about matters of doctrine and what we might expect from Pope Francis and the … [Read more...]

DEATH comes for Terry Pratchett; Discworld Sees Him Off! RIP

Discworld image by Elena Schweitzer, courtesy of

No one but Terry Pratchett could write an appropriate scene for his encounter with Death, but upon hearing of the death of this marvelously inventive and wise writer, my imagination immediately went there. I pictured Pratchett before a fire, with a glass of wine, looking up and seeing the cloak and hood, and the staff, and then looking down, placing the Death of Rats by his SQUEAK!Death: TERRY PRATCHETT! Pratchett: Yes, oh is it you, finally? Death: (Looking at his hourglass) BUT I AM … [Read more...]

Just How Harrowing Can Lent Be?

Image by David Shankbone via wikimediacommons

Does anyone remember this little book, Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?, by John Powell, SJ? I remember a friend sharing her copy with me in the late 1970's, and I think we were both too young to really benefit from it. I may pick it up again, because I'm tired of being bashful, and I'm tired of feeling hesitant around people simply because in my life I have been bullied.I want to say, "screw that, so what?" and just move on, already. I want to be done with all the old tapes and learned … [Read more...]

Bad Pastors Cheat the Faithful of Sacraments and Wonder

Behold the Lamb of God

Given the burlap banners, the lack of kneelers (because heaven forbid we kneel before Christ in worship and adoration, particularly after Communion) the ridiculously pretentious (and dubiously licit) whole-wheat pitas and everything else Katrina Fernandez describes here, I would already be pre-disposed toward wanting to avoid the parish from which her grandmother was laid to rest, but this bit is really unconscionable, unpastoral, and in need of attention:Not only did he consecrate a wheat … [Read more...]

This is how Hillary should always dress

NaSon Nguyen/AFP/GettyImages

Reading up in anticipation of Hillary Clinton's scheduled press conference (which has not happened, as I write this) I must say I really, really love the way she looks here, in this pant-suit, which I am cribbing from this headline:That looks terrific. Black is always a great color on her; she is not buttoned up to the chin; the necklace sits beautifully; the 3/4 sleeves give her a relaxed and softened look. The white contrasts in buttons, shell and pocketpiece are terrific. That's a … [Read more...]