Patheos Catholic Welcomes Michael Novak!

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While introducing readers to a new Patheos Catholic blogger, particularly one who has great writing chops but may have flown under the radars, biographical information can sometimes be a little thin; sometimes research is required.This is not the case with Michael Novak, whose new blog, Coming Down to Earth debuts today with a reminiscence of Lithuania and the Divine Mercy. In Michael's case, the biographical material is so plentiful it needs its own editor, or I'll get nothing else done … [Read more...]

4 Vital Conversations the Church Must Have Without Passion or Prejudice

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Echo chambers can be very deceiving. You go into the same sites everyday -- the sites you either love, because they validate your thinking, or love to hate because you can show them to others who also hate them, and have your feelings validated, once again -- and after a while you fall for an illusion of breadth and width; you begin to think that the 80 or 800 people with whom you agree are the vast silent majority; that "everybody" -- or at least the right-thinking folks with common-sense -- … [Read more...]

You Want Dignity? You Should Have It. So Should Everyone.

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All day I had hoped to find time to respond to this piece by Frank Bruni in the New York Times wherein he argues that religious liberty must be regulated and sidelined, for the sake of human dignity, particularly his:Christian fundamentalists in this country are practiced at claiming marginalization and oppression. “They’re always saying they’re kept out of the public square, and that’s baloney,” said Marci Hamilton, a constitutional law expert and the author of “God vs. the Gavel.” “They’re … [Read more...]

The Spirit Moves Through the ‘Net in Mysterious Ways

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Got a wonderful email from a reader who is being received into the Catholic Church in 2015, and it is in many ways thanks to internet web sites, both secular and religious. Writes this reader, whose privacy I am protecting, but who is very excited to be entering the church:In the beginning was National Review Online, back when Jonah Goldberg was starting it up and the blogosphere was young...NRO named lileks.com as their Site of the Day. I started reading the Daily Bleat, and I noticed two … [Read more...]

NY Times Writes in Favor of Complementarity

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Via last Sunday's edition: Ballet is built on moments of trust and connection like this one. Partnering is an essential part of telling a story, creating an emotional undertone and suggesting the deeper implications of the relation between two people, traditionally a man and a woman. The man’s assistance allows the woman to create an impression of freedom and amplitude, as her range of motion expands. In her book “Balanchine Technique,” the former New York City Ballet dancer Suki Schorer. . . wr … [Read more...]

A few small predictions for 2015

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Over at National Review, they've asked a number of writers and speakers, "What happens in 2015" and there are six pages of responses -- some of them really entertaining.Based on a few famous (or perhaps infamous) predictions of my own over the years, I was invited to participate, too!What were those predictions, you ask? As best I can recall the chronology -- and if I had more time I'd get them out of the archives:I predicted George W. Bush would nominate Harriet Miers to the … [Read more...]

Feminism Solves Its Mid-Life Crisis Like a Man!

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In an earlier post, I asked whether men should be permitted to flirt, or if an attempt to chat up a woman and get to know her is something we, as a society, can no longer allow. I wondered whether every man is now to be treated like -- in a twist on the famous phrase from The World According to Garp -- a "sexual suspect".In a world where the common courtesy of holding a door open for the next person is cause for high public drama and recrimination, men could use some help in gauging the … [Read more...]

Are Men Permitted to Flirt? Should They Be Encouraged?

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On her Facebook page, Elizabeth Stoker (whose blog can be found here) posted a question which -- in an era where men are routinely depicted by Madison Avenue as either slovenly slackers or pathetically stupid-and-neutered -- is well-worth asking: When a guy flirts with me out in the wild i always turn them down because i am married, but i have also for sometime offered like a brief performance review, example: [me at starbucks]: a gingerbread latte please [dude behind me in line]: i'll pay … [Read more...]

On Taking Communion While Not Catholic: A Little Primer – UPDATED

Food for the World, lain in a Food Bin. Image copyright Dayna More, courtesy of Shutterstock.com

The holidays always bring out these sorts of conversations. A Catholic friend who confesses to being "lukewarm" to the faith "because it's so crazy, with all the people who are not welcome" expressed some consternation at the idea that there are actual "rules" about receiving Holy Communion. The rules, she complained, "get in the way of a person and Jesus."Once upon a time, I believed that, too.I am still not one to go bug-eyed and cry "heretic!" if someone receives Communion … [Read more...]

A Chance to Make One More Charitable Donation before 2014 Ends!

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On January 1st, Sister Mary Magdalene of the Immaculate Conception, OP will be pronouncing solemn vows, promising to live out the rest of her life within the enclosure of her monastery in Summit, New Jersey.Sister writes of what that means to her, here.We are called “sister” as spiritual mothers, we have a duty or right to maternally care for the spiritual well-being of our spiritual children and the salvation of souls, particularly as contemplatives recommending them in prayer; to br … [Read more...]

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...]

“I Hate Youse All!” Uncle Charlie, Christmas & Authentic Love

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Christmas day never comes without my remembrance of "Uncle Charlie", a family friend who once appeared on our doorstep, decked out in all of Santa's raiment and tripping in his boots only slightly. He had apparently been Santa for a party at the local soup kitchen (or the local bar; this was never clear to me) and -- just a trifle in his cups -- had decided during his walk home that he would stop at the houses of his friends and give all the kids "a treat." And if the friends wanted to toast the … [Read more...]

Unholy Rage Inspired by the Birth of the Christ

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My little cousin and I watch as my uncle washes away the blood, and examines the wound. He is making that odd breathless noise—halfway between a gasp of surprise and a sigh of regret—that he always makes when an attack has been thwarted. My uncle, after all, is nearly forty; an old man long past the charms of making his bed upon the chill earth at night; disenchanted with stargazing while wolves in the dark distance howl, or creep in silence, just beyond our sight.It is different for his son … [Read more...]


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