The “it’s an honor to be mentioned” cliche

Strange Gods, now with Study Guide!

You know that whole, "it's an honor just to be nominated" thing that people say when they discover they're up for some sort of award? It's a true thing! I know, it sounds hackneyed and cliched and false, but it's a reality. I know it's a reality, because the Association for Catholic Publisher’s Excellence in Publishing Awards has announced their finalists for titles published in 2013, and I just learned that Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life is one of them! It is a … [Read more...]

Newhart, Bullies, Shunning, and Cliques: The High-Schoolization of America

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

I was really disappointed to read that 85 year-old comedian, Bob Newhart -- a man who managed to have not one, but two highly successful television sitcoms and end both of them on brilliant, darn near iconic notes -- recently cancelled a speaking engagement rather than have to deal with being hassled. He was to speak before a gathering of Legatus members -- a group of Catholic businessfolk who try to conform both their personal and business lives to Catholic teaching. Many of the Legatus … [Read more...]

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”

hellgate

For the past week or so, Patheos writers have been on a Hades kick. You might think it had something to do with Halloween, but you'd be wrong. Apparently things started with Mark Shea defended Father Robert Barron against what seems to me to be a case of misinterpretation. Whatever, I still wasn't paying much attention, because my kid got pneumonia again. And then young Ryan Adams brought in some Orthodox perspective, and suddenly there were Facebook eruptions of hellish debating and people … [Read more...]

Talking “Strange Gods” with Brandon Vogt

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One of my favorite people on the planet is Brandon Vogt, a young man of considerable energy and imagination, but also great faith and astounding generosity. No one could have faulted him, had he sought to profit from his first book, The Church and New Media, but Brandon donated 100% of the book's proceeds to establish school computer labs throughout the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya. Kathy Schiffer has mentioned meeting Brandon in Rome in 2011, for the beatification of Pope John Paul II and … [Read more...]

“Everyone must make his choice…”

choose wisely

Earlier today, I linked to remarks from Pope Francis (which you should go read, because they're great) and I mentioned that they reminded me of what are purported to be the last words of G.K. Chesterton: "It is between light and darkness, and everyone must choose his side." This afternoon, Francis' words came to me again, and once again, they brought me to Chesterton, but a different line. Pope Francis said: "Everyone must make his choice.” Chesterton said: "When you chose one thing, … [Read more...]

Francis Confounds the Associated Press

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Via Matthew Schmitz' twitter feed, where he notes a sense of "disorientation." I can just hear the mainstream secular press. WAIT! WHAT? I thought we had a read on this guy! He was gonna shut up about abortion, already! Next day he's telling doctors not to perform them, and sayin' each aborted kid has the face of Christ? WHAT? That's like the WORST THING HE COULD SAY when people are actually listening! This feels like Charlie Brown and Lucy and the Football! It's almost like he's … [Read more...]

Are we making an idol of the pope who warns against them? UPDATED

Pope likes my book! Heh.

I can't think of modern pope who has so explicitly, and so frequently, warned us against the creation of idols; he mentioned idolatry early-and-often in his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, and has exhorted against succumbing to it so frequently that the joke around here is: he's in a mind meld with Scalia. And of course, the other joke is this: Even when the crowds cheer him at his audiences, Francis reminds them, "cheer for Jesus, not for me" And yet, as I write this morning in the … [Read more...]

I’ll See You in DC!

CIC

Oh, you all know how much I hate to travel, but when I got an invitation from the Catholic Information Center to come and talk about Strange Gods and do a little wine-and-cheesing, and book signing (hmmmm...I wonder how those things go together...I suspect...dangerously!) I couldn't say no. It starts at 6PM, so if you're around, stop by. I think the schedule is: drinking wine, me talking...more drinking wine. If you can't make it, though, I'd surely appreciate some prayers for my … [Read more...]

Wherein K-Lo Wonders if I am Committing Sacrilege

KLO

She looks so sweet, doesn't she? Smart, and nice and soft-spoken. And I've met Kathryn Lopez and she really is all of those things, plus she is a completely down-to-earth, authentic sort who would "give you the shirt off her back", as the saying goes, if she can help you out. So, when someone like this says, "how about I interview you, regarding your book" you think, "well, this will be lovely; a piece of cake! I'll have a gentle afternoon burnishing my ego and tra-la-ing my way through the … [Read more...]

If Atheists want a creed, they ought to have one

atheist monument

In Florida, some atheists, peeved that a monument to the Ten Commandments could not be protested out of existence are planning to erect their own monument, celebrating their beliefs: A small city in heavily Christian northern Florida is about to become home to the first public monument in the United States dedicated to atheism. Florida members of American Atheists, a national advocacy group, plan to erect a 1,500-pound granite display in front of the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, … [Read more...]

Strange Gods Now on Kindle and my Sally Field Moment

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Color me very grateful for the interest in Strange Gods and I have felt a little helpless when emails and social media messages asked when the book would be out on Kindle. The answer, finally, as of right now! I'm also grateful to folks who have been very kind in their assessments of the book, although I do have to admit that Terry Nelson from Abbey-Roads blog -- one of my favorite blogs, I don't link to enough -- gave me a start. I happened upon it this weekend and read: "At first I thought, … [Read more...]

It is a strange thing to promote a book…UPDATED

I am a little late getting around to talking about the Patheos Book Club, which is currently featuring my book, among others. As I've expressed to some friends, I'm always really happy to promote books I like (and I like my book!) but promoting Strange Gods has been a little daunting for me. I'm not sure how to do it without sounding like this: Yeah, that cracks me up. But on the other hand, I'm always afraid this will happen: So, the book club is featuring an excerpt you can read … [Read more...]

Pope Francis and I are in a Vulcan Mind Meld!

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We've joked that our new Pontiff and I seem to be enjoying an unusual bit of synchonicity on the issue of idolatry. In his wonderful talks and homilies he touches frequently on the issue, enough so that Brandon Vogt -- the hardly sleeping and inventive Brandon Vogt -- took the time to create this amusing photoshop for me: Here's Pope Francis this morning: “The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an … [Read more...]

Shall we Embrace Human Wholeness in Church and in Government?

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Deacon Greg features this with thoughts on the importance of second chances, and that's certainly part of this bit with Governor Christie and Former Governor McGreevey, both in context and subtext. But I'm seeing something else. I see an increasingly recurrent theme being given expression here, but it's one coming from various corners, and with a little room, and a little attention, it could possibly restore both our national equilibrium and our church-wide, spiritual balance, as well. What … [Read more...]