Starving Laypeople of Devotion in Church

I just wrapped up (and really enjoyed) Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580. One of the themes that jumped out at me were the ways laypeople were pushed aside during the English Reformation. Although Protestant reformers were ostensibly giving power to the ordinary people of the parish (though translations of the Mass and other reforms), by attacking traditional devotions, they cut parishioners off from the kinds of worship they had known and the … [Read more...]

Aunt Alberta And Being Right (but the boring way)

I've been rereading the Narnia series (in publication order) with a group of friends, and when we read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader last week, I was struck by how the transformation of the boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb (who almost deserved it!) is summarized in the final words of the book. Back in our own world everyone soon started saying how Eustace had improved, and how "You'd never know him for the same boy": everyone except Aunt Alberta, who said he had become very commonplace and t … [Read more...]

The Virtues of Sad Songs (a piece for three voices)

After I covered the empty sweetness of some contemporary Christian music, I got a mix of excellent responses, from specific song recommendations to response essays. Here are three I particularly enjoyed:  Richard Beck (Experimental Theology) "Growing Up Shape Note" In short, all the major hymnbooks of the Churches of Christ tradition have used shape-notes. No matter what Church of Christ you visited, even if you were pulling a different hymnbook from the pew, you were always singing … [Read more...]

The (Extra) Mercy of My Conversion

Kristine Franklin invited me on to her radio show, Mercy Unwrapped, a few weeks ago to talk about my conversion and the way I've learned to pray. The audio is up now: Mercy Unwrapped Ep 24 - Leah Libresco: A Fervent Atheist and the Mercy of God.One of the things we wind up talking about is the wide range of kinds of conversions, and the way that "God kept reaching out to me in ways I could say 'Yes' to. [...] A lot of people have conversions that are more emotional and spiritual, but for me … [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...]

Dwelling In Wounds To Hide From Grace

I really enjoyed seeing a broadcast of Kenneth Brannagh's The Winter's Tale (and, if the taped version becomes more widely available, I highly recommend it). I'd only seen it once before, and one thing that changed for me when I saw this new one was that I couldn't simply see Paulina as a pure heroine anymore.In The Winter's Tale, the king falsely believes his wife to be unfaithful, and he hounds her (he thinks) to death and orders her infant exposed to the elements. Paulina is the one who … [Read more...]

Letting Go of the Goal of a Hardcore Lent

I'm at Aleteia today to talk about picking small sacrifices for Lent, and staying open to unplanned, unanticipated disciplines (all of which is hard for me as a big scheduler and organizer!).  Here's an excerpt:I wanted to find something to give up, or some rule to follow, because as a (still fairly new!) convert, I can have a tendency to feel somewhat unsettled in the faith. Sometimes it’s a long stretch from Sunday to Sunday, and even though I’m keeping up with some daily prayers, it feels … [Read more...]