The Tony-Winning Guide To Temptation And Grace

Last Sunday, Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton won 11 well-deserved Tony Awards, and, last week, I wrote an appreciation of the show for Aleteia. In keeping with Miranda's style, it's a mashup: the grace-filled story of Hamilton's adultery and the way he is forgiven paired with St. Therese of Liseux's advice for withstanding temptation. The choice he refused to acknowledge as a choice kept rippling out, leaving no part of his life undamaged. If Hamilton was tempted to despair at his own weakness b … [Read more...]

Hedgehogs of Redemption and the Comedy of Grace

One of my friends has been coordinating a series of Narnia book clubs, and, prompted by our discussion of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I've written a piece for Aleteia on a particularly farcical gift of grace in that book.The most pleased of the lot was the other lion, who kept running about everywhere pretending to be very busy in order to say to everyone he met, “Did you hear what he said? Us lions. That means him and me. Us lions. That’s what I like about Aslan. No side, no stand … [Read more...]

Mercy, Justice, and How To Tell The Difference

I haven't blogged at all about Pope Francis's Apostolic exortation Amoris Laetitia, for the simple reason that I haven't yet read it! So I'm not in a position to analyze it myself or to evaluate other people's takes on it. But Eve Tushnet wrote a reflection for First Things which opens with a good analysis of plain ol' human nature, no pre-reading required: Philip Larkin lamented that whether or not anybody refills your drink at a party “seems to turn on where you are. Or who.” In our divided Ca … [Read more...]

Pinning down *which* error is made in this adultery advice

I love reading Mallory Ortberg at The Toast, and, while I was reading through her chat with Longreads on her favorite advice columns, I wound up reading this response by Ijeoma Oluo to an advice seeker wondering if she was obliged to not be "the other woman" out of solidarity for the wife of the man who wanted to sleep with her. Here's part of Oluo's reply: You are your own person all the time, and you are solely responsible for your decisions. Does this mean that a woman shouldn’t feel bad if s … [Read more...]

Unfiltered isn’t the Same as Authentic

Given my love of the anti-entropic call to arms of Diane Duane's So You Want to be a Wizard, I guess I'm an easy mark for John Gardner's description of good art in On Moral Fiction: But trivial art has no meaning or value except in the shadow of more serious art, the kind of art that beats back the monsters and, if you will, makes the world safe for triviality. That art which tends toward destruction, the art of nihilists, cynics, and merdistes, is not properly art at all. Art is essentially s … [Read more...]

Using Goodhart’s Law to Find Happiness

My parish kicked off its Adult Sunday School (taught by Dominican friars) this past week with a class on happiness. We started off going through a discussion of all the things happiness is not (wealth, power, fame, honor, etc) and I liked some of the reasoning given about how you could recognize these as not quite the answer to "What will make me happy?"I already knew the way the answer worked for things like wealth, power, influence, etc -- these are instrumental goods.  People only want … [Read more...]

The People I Don’t Learn to Love

After reading my essay on "Both/And Philanthropy," one of my friends told me that there was something I was leaving out of my hybrid approach.  Here's how I said that I balance attentiveness to material and spiritual goods: And when it comes to the fundamental divide between Beer and MacAskill, for my own part, I like to hybridize their global vs local approaches. When I have the opportunity to do something for someone close to me (e.g. defraying a friend-of-a-friend’s medical costs, donating to … [Read more...]