Apostasy: Would You Ever Renounce Your Faith? Reflections on the Film “Silence”

Have you ever experienced such trauma in your faith that you were tempted to renounce Jesus? Have you ever wondered what it might be like for Christians undergoing severe persecution in other countries, and how they might remain resilient? What if God does not rescue them, but is silent? The newly released movie Silence raised such questions for me.Based on the book Silence (Chinmoku) by Shusaku Endo, Martin Scorsese’s film version chronicles the journey of two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries … [Read more...]

You Get One Shot at Life. Invest Well this Year.

This is not an NRA ad advocating for more ammunition, or a stock broker commercial telling you how to invest your money. It is rather a reflection following a funeral service. What a bummer in the new year!Actually, a funeral can be a rather life-affirming rather than morbid thing to consider. Funerals, like weddings, offer us opportunities to reinvest in life and relationships with renewed vigor and purpose.Such was the case with my friend Clark Blakeman's funeral service yesterday, … [Read more...]

Mother Mary Stands at the Crossroads of the New Year

It is fitting that the Church celebrates Mary, the Mother of Jesus, on January 1st. While Catholics and Protestants have been divided over the significance of Mary for the Church’s life, she can and does serve as a point of connection, and not simply between the old and new year. I will develop this theme of connection in what follows.Today, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, which involves honoring her as “the Holy Mother of God” (Refer here). While there are many fe … [Read more...]

Which Will It Be on New Year’s Eve and Day—Foolish Feasting or Joyful Solemnity?

No doubt, there will be a great deal of foolish behavior on display tonight as people welcome in the New Year. For others, a joyful solemnity will mark the occasion, as people prepare for the first Sunday of 2017.For some, the solemnity includes remembrance of Jesus’ circumcision. In the church calendar, obedience marks tomorrow, as various Christian communities celebrate The Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord.The biblical background for the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord is t … [Read more...]

Well, At Least It Looks As If Keith Richards Will Survive 2016.

Well, at least it looks as if Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards will survive 2016. The Internet is full of memes on Richards' seeming invincibility. Many find it surprising given all Richards has been through—or put himself through—over the years.I'm glad Richards is still with us, regardless of whether or not he has some "Sympathy for the Devil" (the title of one of the Stones' songs). After all, God is the grand artist and musician. If someone has a gift for music, it comes from God, … [Read more...]

Saints and Celebrities Illumine Our Path and Offer Us Mile Markers through the Seasons of Life

What is it about celebrities? Like saints, they transcend their lives, even if in the case of some celebrities, their lives lack saintliness. The week following Christmas, as part of Christmastide, many of us celebrate and remember saints of old, like St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, St. John the Apostle, and on January 1st, Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This week, we also come to terms with the passing of celebrities, whose lives remain with us in our passing of time.Like celebrities, … [Read more...]

“Silence” and the Lambs of Sacrifice: Unprecedented Suffering at Christmastide

The limited run of Martin Scorsese’s Silence that opened two days before Christmas was intended to position it for awards season. A wider launch will occur in January. A limited run at Christmas is not an unprecedented move. Something similar happened with The Revenant last year.Other than that, it might seem unprecedented to launch Silence right around Christmas. After all, the movie is based on Shusaku Endo’s classic 1966 novel about Christian witness in Eido era Japan in the face of pers … [Read more...]