Shelter From the Storm

The truth is, I'm going to be just fine during the Trump Administration. I 'm holding a straight flush: white, male, able-bodied, middle-class, and middle-aged. I have a business of my own and my wife has a solid, well-paying job with a Fortune 10 company. We own our home and have other assets, including investment and retirement accounts. Our son has already been to war and is in no danger of having to go again. Our daughter can rely on us for economic and emotional support. Frankly, there is l … [Read more...]

What I Saw on the Porch

In temporary relief from the ongoing telenovella of our impending national election, we habitues of the Front Porch Republic met up last weekend at the architecture building on the campus of the University of Notre Dame for a daylong celebration of "place, limits, liberty." These annual shmoozefests are always a delight, given the wonderful mix of temperaments and the high degree of literacy displayed everywhere. Amidst a certain Spenglerian gloom, hilarity is always breaking out, I dunno quite h … [Read more...]

Passing the Test (for Cynthia)

[An old friend in pain recently emailed me to share some anguish and doubt. (S)he wrote that despite years of intense but unanswered prayer, (s)he had finally failed the test of faithfulness. Most disturbing of all, (s)he commended me on having passed that test, no doubt truly believing that in fact I have. This was my reply. I offer it today for my new friend Cynthia.]Thank you, my friend, for reaching out to share these thoughts with me, for trusting me with emotions so raw and doubts so p … [Read more...]

The Real Threat to Religious Liberty

Up front, you should know that I don't intend to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in November. It's not a tough decision, frankly. I live in the bluest of blue states, Rhode Island, where the only real question is whether the Democratic nominee will go over or just miss the 60% mark. So, although I have deep moral objections to both candidates, it's an easy call for me: I'm writing in Wendell Berry's name again.But if I lived in a battleground state and had to choose between Cl … [Read more...]

Preparing for President Trump

What I’m about write is not an exercise in partisan advocacy. I belong to neither of the dominant political parties in the United States, which I consider to be two dead ends in the same blind alley. Nor do I belong to any other party. Nor do I consider myself a member of the Right or the Left. Nor do I appropriate for myself meaningless labels like liberal and conservative.No, this is not a partisan statement. But it is deeply political. The notion that any thinking, believing, and p … [Read more...]

Book Review: “Called to Community: The Life Jesus Wants for His People”

I write today for the purpose of recommending “Called to Community: The Life Jesus Wants for His People,” the latest book from Plough Publishing. Edited and introduced by Charles Moore, with a foreword by Stanley Hauerwas, “Called to Community” is an essential collection of 82 essays and perspectives on the broad themes of a call to community, forming community, life in community, and engaging the world through community.Plough Publishing is an arm of the Bruderhof (“place of brothers”), an A … [Read more...]

The Father of Catholic Social Teaching

“Charity is the Samaritan who pours oil on the wounds of the traveler who has been attacked. It is justice’s role to prevent the attack.” - Blessed Frederic OzanamDuring the June Rebellion of 1832 in Paris, memorialized in Victor Hugo's novel "Les Miserables," many of the insurgents were students from the Sorbonne, still a college within the University of Paris system.  In the rebellion, some 93 insurgents were killed, along with 75 members of the army and national guard. As one would expect, … [Read more...]

Who Does God REALLY Love?

I have a friend named Trish who frequently corners me after Mass to ask questions about things she finds baffling about Scripture or Catholic teaching. Her questions range from the mundane – “Why, if Mary remained a virgin, does Scripture refer to the ‘brothers and sisters’ of Jesus?” – to the sublime – “How can it be that Jesus is both human and divine?” Why Trish brings her questions to me, I’m not sure, but I always try to reward her curiosity by patiently providing as full an answer as I can. … [Read more...]

What is the Opposite of a Happy Death?

In a neighboring town I have a wonderful friend Nate who serves as pastor of an Evangelical Free church with a weekly community meal program. The town is a rustbelt artifact, still breathing but just barely. His congregation is mostly young marrieds but many of the soup kitchen regulars are older unemployed men.Thinking of the recent history of this area, Nate and I were discussing what it must feel like to go for ten years, twenty years with no job, no real chance at a job. Nate remarked, … [Read more...]

The Next Church and How to Get There

Being a Patheos blogger, you understand, is a pretty cush deal. For example, the folks at Patheos corporate HQ recently offered any interested Dorothy Option contributor a free copy of Joe Paprocki's book, A Church on the Move, in exchange for a few hundred words of comment for the conversation at the Patheos Book Club. I don't know why I agreed to do this--like I really need to own one more book. Maybe there's room for it in the fridge.But I agreed and two days later here's my shiny new … [Read more...]