Catholicism and Nationalism Do Not Really Mix – UPDATED

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The neighborhood where I grew up was a block of "mutts", and my own family boasted Irish-Italian-English-Scots-German muttage, but if you asked any of us "what are you?" the answer, our answer would have been "Catholic" and our Catholicism precluded all of our other labels, including "American." Our culture was American, yes, but it was first-and-foremost "Catholic". We didn't have a flag hanging out the door, but we had a Saint Jude on the doorstep, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the kitchen. … [Read more...]

Golly, this word, “Idol” is coming up a lot! – UPDATED

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I wonder if the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us something.. Pope Francis has been talking about idols lately, and now we see the word creep into a secular headline: Book: Obama surrounds self with 'idolizers,' plots legacy with scholars. A revealing new book from one of the media's longest serving White House correspondents reports that President Obama surrounds himself only with "idolizers," and top aides make sure that those whose view might "shake him up too much" are shoved … [Read more...]

Talking “Strange Gods” on Catholic Weekend

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When Maria Johnson invited me to come and chat with the gang at SPQN's Catholic Weekend, I said "sure" without really knowing what to expect. I didn't anticipate a party atmosphere at Google hangouts, and I was a little frightened at the idea of talking with four people at once. But when Maria greeted me with a tiara on her head and a tee shirt proclaiming herself "The Queen of Everything" I realized I could have retained my Donald Duck sweatshirt. Tiara aside, I felt overdressed! In this … [Read more...]

Pope Francis Endorses My Book, “Strange Gods”? – UPDATE

strangegodspublished

Well, no, not officially, but I had a little fun on Twitter this weekend, when several friends mentioned Pope Francis' latest tweet at @Pontifex: It just slips in so very well with the whole topic of my book, Strange Gods; Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life, which will be hitting bookstores soon. In the introduction I write: Do we stop to think of what it means to have something "before God"? It means to put something "first", yes, but more fundamentally, it means to put something … [Read more...]

No Room for God in this “Adoration of the Magi”

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I really like the way Simcha Fisher analyzes this painting, "The Adoration of the Magi" by Tai-Shan Shierenberg. Is it a problem that these "Magi" are not kings or wise men, that they're not even all men, that they don't have historically accurate clothes or hair, or that they don't show any signs of bearing gifts or of having traveled afar? Not necessarily. These departures from more traditional art may irritate or perplex you, but they aren't enough, in themselves, to disqualify this … [Read more...]

Idols Come in Many Forms; Facebook Feeds Them – UPDATED

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My column at First Things this week takes yet another stab at discussing the idols some of us are (of have in the past) made of our ideologies, and how damaging it is becoming to our mental and social health, and more importantly to our spirits: In 2012, there are still some puffs of Obama-fervor to be found amid the members and burning-out embers of the mainstream press; here and there you may find someone on the right launching a heavy breath toward the Romney/Ryan coals, but after decades … [Read more...]

Penn State, Paradigms and Poor Me

With all there is to read on the Penn State/Sandusky story, here are two excellent pieces that should rise to the top of the pile: Read Mark Shea on Betrayal and the Power of a Relationship: But though lots of combox warriors are quite adept at fantasizing about how bravely they would have behaved and how vile Mike McQueary is in comparison to their brave selves, how they would have taken a baseball bat to Sandusky had they caught him in flagrante, the reality is that, if the Milgram … [Read more...]

American Idol and Human Dignity – UPDATED

Who would have thought it? I've been a vocal critic of the way American Idol so often showcases people at their undignified worst (admittedly with their permission) during the auditioning process. Paradoxically, that winnowing-the-worst process eventually permits the audience to witness others at their artistic best, because art can be transcendent. It invites the God-spark. This season, however, American Idol seems to be collecting an unusual number of contestants with personal stories that … [Read more...]

O Season of Idols! – UPDATED

My Tuesday column is up over at First Things, and it's pondering the recent Golden Globes show and the season of glittery "awards" that is upon us: It was never so rare, or harmless. And as our post-modern society becomes increasingly post-faith, our instincts to raise up entertainers as idols become more frequently indulged, and perhaps we manufacture more of these idols now. Is there a nation that does not have a slew of “Idol-creating” television shows, where celebrity magazines don't … [Read more...]


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