Christ’s Loyal Widows [Pope Francis Bookclub]

In 2014, I’m reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I’ll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.In this week's chapter of Open Mind, Faithful Heart, Pope Francis braids together three moments in Christ's ministry: his discoverty by the Magi, his baptism, and the wedding at Cana.  As Francis tells it, these stories are all about Chr … [Read more...]

Putting the Casual Back in Casual Dating

Boston College students have been signing up for a class on dating, using it as a precommitment device to go on actual dates.  (Extra credit is given to any student who asks out someone s/he is romantically interested in -- in person only). [Professor Kerry] Cronin says this all came together for her during a lecture she gave about the campus hookup culture eight years ago. She says she was nervously anticipating controversial questions about sex and intimacy, but instead one student asked, … [Read more...]

Designing Emotional Contraception

Over at The American Conservative, I'm discussing a bioethicist who's done a literature review to find anti-love drugs.  He's not discussing science fiction, but drugs that currently exist which could have the side effects of suppressing lust, attraction, and/or attachment if prescribed off label (anti-depressants are high on the list).  His ethics questions are mostly focused on the level of the individual, but I've got concerns about how they'd shift societal expectations about responsibility a … [Read more...]

Praying with Viola’s Firm Resolve

Ross Douthat and PEG have been having a back and forth over the possibility of communion for divorced and remarried Catholics (part 1, part 2, part 3), and my attention was caught by Douthat's discussion of the "firm resolve" to turn from sin required to make a good confession and return to communion.  He writes: To use a higher-stakes version of the professional case Gobry references — if you work at a job that by its nature requires grave sin for full participation (let’s say, I dunno, you’re … [Read more...]

What Are Shakespeare’s Lovers Talking About?

I don't have any strong opinions yet about Nate Silver's revamped FiveThirtyEight, but, on their first day, they did have a piece on statistics and Shakespeare, and, what can I say, I'm an easy mark.Emma Pierson took a look at how many lines any given pair of characters in a play spoke to each other.  (She tried out four methods of tallying, described in her footnotes).  Here's what she found: I wanted Romeo and Juliet to end up together — if they couldn’t in the play, at least they could in … [Read more...]

The Cost of Fetishizing Marriage

PEG has a great essay up on the odd way our culture has settled into talking about marriage: But the problem is that ["marriage is awesome"] is an inversion of the Biblical theology of marriage. The root is Protestant. In his urge to torch his own vows, Luther built an exalted theology of marriage as the summit of Christian life (completely ignoring Paul, #solascriptura). The Protestant communities, separated from the apostolic Church, lost the great gift of the Holy Spirit of celibate life and … [Read more...]

St. Valentine and Pope Francis

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being a guest on Relevant Radio for the St. Valentine's Day taping of A Closer Look with Sheila Liaugminas.  I was joined by three other Patheos bloggers: Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress), Betty Duffy, and Mark Shea (Catholic and Enjoying It!).We had a pretty wide ranging conversation, and you can listen to the hour-long program here, but I'll summarized two topics I covered below.We opened by talking about the namesake of the day.  Saint Valentine is us … [Read more...]