Accidental Stylites and the Benedict Option

Luke the Stylite / Wikimedia Commons

This weekend, I'm hosting an in-person discussion of "the Benedict Option" -- ways for modern Christians to root their faith so that they can wind up living it more fully and more joyfully.  Rod Dreher is the biggest promoter of the idea, which takes its name from the Benedictine monasteries that acted as centers of Christian faith, both for the monks that lived within them and (more relevantly for me!) the lay communities that sprang up in the shadow of the monasteries.  These ordinary people h … [Read more...]

Running the (Terrible for Catholics) Numbers on Conversion

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The Pew Religious Landscape Survey gave the chance to write some code and run the numbers on religious churn, retention, and conversions for my day job at FiveThirtyEight.  Here are a few highlights: Evangelical Protestants Are The Biggest Winners When People Change Faiths The numbers presented by Pew help describe current patterns, but they don’t tell the whole story of which denominations are most attractive to people who might be looking for a new one. Gain and loss numbers can wind up sk … [Read more...]

7QT: Not Breathing, Not Marrying, and Opening Beers With Your Teeth

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--- 1 --- So, remember how I mentioned that the last question at my book talk in DC was about transhumanism?  Well, here's a particularly amusing body augmentation: If you're a rugby player, you're going to take a lot of hits — and you might even lose a tooth or two. Rather than replace those lost incisors with regular old implants, athletes might consider something more useful — a steel tooth that doubles as a bottle opener. --- 2 --- Speaking of impressive new bodily powers, I liked this Na … [Read more...]

Using N-Dimensional Spaces to Learn to Think About God

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I had a great time speaking about Arriving at Amen at the Catholic Information Center last night (especially during the Q&A section -- there were a couple I'm still mulling) and the audio from that event should wind up online eventually.Plus, you can see me live (and ask questions of your own -- the last one at the CIC was about transhumanism) in NYC on May 26th and Boston on June 2nd.In the meantime, EWTN News Nightly put up the clip of my interview, if you'd like to hear me talk … [Read more...]

Talking to Vox Nova about Conversion and Learning from Others

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I got to chat with Jeannine Pitas of Vox Nova about my new book, Arriving at Amen and some of her more wide-ranging questions about religion.  Here's a teaser of what she asked: Q: On a more general note, what do you think that Catholics can learn from atheists? In turn, what can atheists learn from us, and how can we present that knowledge in a way that will be met with receptivity?Catholics can learn the tradition of critical thinking and useful skepticism that is so highly valued in … [Read more...]

Desiring Abundance of Life, Not Just Absence of Sin

(Horla Varlan / Flickr)

Ben Kuhn has a great post up on strategies for inviting (and retaining) new kinds of people to a group that you run.  Ben is writing specifically about effective altruism, an interest of mine, too, but I think his thoughts generalize pretty well.Hands down, this was my favorite thing that he said: Get interested in other people’s experiences. Don’t try to convince them to “become an EAer;” try to get them to convince you of something. Figure out how their perspective can add to effective alt … [Read more...]

A Dominican Friar Found My Book “Pious, Intellectually Robust, and Personal”

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Last week I had a Jesuit reviewer for my book, and now I'm delighted to add a Dominican.  Br. Patrick Mary Briscoe, O.P. has written about my book for Dominicana, and here's what he had to say: The great strength of her presentation is that Libresco manages to show how our philosophical and theological prejudices show up in our prayer life. Few considerations could be more profoundly Christian. What we think about the world matters, and it matters most intimately in our personal life with God. … [Read more...]


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