In Which I Still Struggle With Pelagianism


I think one of the worst near occasions for sin for me comes whenever I’m nearing the end of my turn in the confessional. I’ve disclosed my sins (some of them easily, some of them blurted out quickly, as though that lessens their gravity) and then the priest assigns me penance.Unfortunately, my kneejerk reaction is usually, “That’s it?!?”When a priest assigns me only a few prayer, or a spot of silent meditation, I feel like I’m getting away with something. Surely he could come up with som … [Read more...]

A Saint for this Season


Yesterday, I had a lot of trouble making it to church for the Feast of All Saints.  All Saint's Day is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, and it's the feast of all those in the Church Triumphant -- all the saints, recognized on earth through canonization and those unknown to us, but sharing in the beatific vision.Unfortunately, as I'm in a more rural area teaching at a work event, we had to deal with poorly-marked, poorly-lit signs, and spotty GPS to get there.  Around the third time we … [Read more...]

Costumes, Constraint, and Chapel Veils


In my high school theatre productions, our director encouraged us to start working on assembling costumes early.  Especially shoes.  Once you had something of your character's, you could start using it to feel less like yourself, and stop doing things by rote.  If you had nothing else, he said, you could put a pebble in your shoe so you were a little less comfortable in your normal stance. I'm on a plane all day, so, since I ended up without the opportunity to dress up for Halloween, I thought I' … [Read more...]

Getting a Sense of Sin

punch in face

I've just finished Francis Spufford's Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense.  He's pretty good at solving yesterday's problem of explaining your faith without getting bogged down forever in background information or just staying bland.  In one section I particularly liked, he talked about the difficulty of explaining Christianity in a language that's littered with Christian ideas that have drifted from their technical meanings. Everyone kn … [Read more...]

What ornate vestments you have, Father! All the better to…


Because my computer has shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible, the Atheist round results from the Turing Test will probably run Friday or Saturday, once I've got a replacement.Over at Fare Forward, I've taken a crack at reviewing Gary Wills's book Why Priests? A Failed Tradition and, if you want a very quick glimpse of how I felt about it, here's how the review kicks off: The first priest that Garry Wills takes aim at isn’t a man in a cle … [Read more...]

Triaging Moral Disagreements


Excel and I are having a fight, so the Turing Test results will go up tomorrow, after I beat the program into submission. In the meantime...Calah Alexander and Melinda Selmys had two really great reaction pieces to Pope Francis's interview that I'd like to share.  First up, Melinda Selmys has an essay up at Spiritual Friendship titled "Field Hospital for the Wounded."  She picks up on Pope Francis's language, and expands the metaphor to talk about how to evangelize without exacerbating t … [Read more...]

Recommendations for the Lives of the Saints


I've just finished reading Sigrid Undset's life of Catherine of Siena, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that most of my knowledge of the lives of the Saints comes from Wikipedia.  Admittedly, Catherine was no less terrifying at book length than in a short article, but sitting down with Undset's book helped me take her in a bit more in toto, instead of as a timeline of miraculous acts and grotesque suffering.But I haven't read many other hagiographies.  I've read G.K. Chesterton's lives o … [Read more...]