My Favorite Books of 2016

These are my favorite books I read for the first time in 2016 (here's last year's list). Well, technically, my favorite books I read from December 2015-November 2016, since I always put this list together in time for people to grab Christmas gift ideas.And, if you're looking for other book recommendations from me, you can check out the list of books I managed to reference in my own book. Or, of course, there's always my book, Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers That Even I Can Offer. If … [Read more...]

The Boring, Quiet Rituals that Sustain Us Spiritually

When I worked as an instructor at the Center for Applied Rationality, a lot of our curriculum on cognitive biases felt secretly virtue ethics-y: Here's how small choices you make (including ones about what environments you exist in) shape your big choices and who you grow up to be.I really enjoyed reading James K. A. Smith's You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit and reviewing it for Commonweal because it seems to cover spiritual life in the same kind of way. Here's one of my … [Read more...]

Theology nerds (who are also generally nerds) come to Toronto!

I had a great time last year at Doxacon DC, a day of talks, revelry, and occasional cosplay for people who are deeply interested in both Christianity and fantasy/science fiction. So I'm thrilled to tell you that I'll be the keynote speaker this fall for Doxacon Toronto (and that my now-fiancé, then-husband will be giving a talk on "Authority and the Marvel Cinematic Universe" there, too).I'll be speaking on Chesterton, Lewis and Card on Worldbuilding and Our Tolerance of MysteryI'll be … [Read more...]

Dissecting the Catholic Vote for FiveThirtyEight

Over at FiveThirtyEight, I'm taking a close look at a recent Pew survey of religious voters. More mass-going Catholics are planning to vote for Clinton than planned to support Obama four years ago, but it's not because Clinton won them over: Catholics who attend Mass weekly have increased their support for the Democratic nominee by 22 percentage points relative to 2012. They support Hillary Clinton at about the same rate as fallen-away Catholics; even though among white, non-Hispanic Catholics, … [Read more...]

My Good Catch Catches Them All

I've gone to Poland to speak at World Youth Day, so, in the meantime, I've got a few good posts from my fiancé to recommend. He's been alternately playing Pokemon Go and writing about the way its reenchanting the city for players.Even though I'm not playing, I'm still enjoying all the people I run into, and the fact that, unprompted, they'll tell me if there's a really cool Pokemon nearby, so I don't miss it.Alexi wrote about the way that looking at their phones prompts players to look … [Read more...]

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...]

Rational Faith: More working hypothesis than logical proof

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Faith and Reason. Read other perspectives here.This month, Patheos asked bloggers to contribute to a Public Square symposium on the question “Is Faith Rational, Irrational, or Arational?" Since I used to work teaching Bayesian statistics for the Center for Applied Rationality and I'm now a statistician for FiveThirtyEight, I'm coming down firmly on the "Rational" side of this trilemma.But "rational" may not mean what you … [Read more...]