February 23, 2020

It is common for Christian conservatives to tout the Ten Commandments as their ideal roadmap for living a Godly life. But as Kurt Vonnegut once noted, you never hear them mention a more recent, if paradoxical, guide: For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course, that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard… Read more

February 12, 2020

Meet Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, ordinary of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. He is my bishop. He is a failure as a shepherd. His latest is a new diocesan policy that will make life for transgender diocesan employees and students in Catholic schools a lot harder. More on that in a minute. First, some background. Background In 2017, he barred Catholics who die in a same sex marriage from a right to a Catholic funeral “unless they [had] given… Read more

January 27, 2020

The first batch of beer I ever brewed was in the home of a Muslim. I have been a homebrewer, on and off (mostly off these past few years), since I got a homebrewing kit for my twenty-seventh birthday, in 1992. I was in the Marines then and not yet bold enough to brew right in the barracks (though that would change), so a Marine in my platoon, who was married, offered to let me brew my first batch in… Read more

January 18, 2020

In the morning, I usually see some item about President Trump that looks like it would be good to blog about. By the end of the day, there are often three or four more items. Friday, the first thing I saw was a CNN article that said Mr. Trump had added Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz to his impeachment legal defense team—a legal team that already includes former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Let’s take a closer look at what… Read more

January 17, 2020

I have just a few quick words about Christopher Tolkien, who died Thursday, aged 95. Christopher Tolkien will go down in history as a person who left behind a mighty literary legacy—of writings that were not his own. Rather, as the literary executor of his father, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mr. Tolkien edited and published almost two dozen of his father’s works after the elder Tolkien died in 1973. The most enduring of these is The Silmarillion, published in 1977, the fruit… Read more

December 7, 2019

Advent is a season of expectation, of waiting, in hope. The most well-known Advent hymn overflows with heartbreak in giving voice to our yearning for the Promised One: O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear. But the readings for the Second Sunday in Advent, especially the first reading, from Isaiah, are about liberation. We all know that Jesus came to liberate us from our sins. But… Read more

August 28, 2019

What follows is neither an endorsement nor a condemnation of Planned Parenthood. That’s not the issue here. The issue is how Planned Parenthood is covered in Catholic journalism. I expect better. Everyone should, whatever you think of Planned Parenthood. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw this piece in The Pilot, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston: A model of despair: Planned Parenthood and Title X, by Matt Hadro. The dateline says it’s from the Catholic… Read more

August 16, 2019

Thursday night, Stephen Colbert sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper for an hour-long discussion (it was billed as an interview, but it was more of a two-way discussion). Here’s the full interview: Punishment and Gift The talked about a lot of things: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Donald Trump, Mr. Colbert’s favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien. But what got people’s attention, what everyone was talking about Friday morning, was when the conversation turned to grief and loss, specifically, the deaths… Read more

July 13, 2019

I’ll give Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput one thing: he knows how to cover his tracks. He knows how to sound above the fray, impartial, when pushing a right-wing agenda. Advising his flock in August, 2016, on how to vote in that fall’s election in a way consistent with their Catholic faith, he wrote: For Catholics, no political or social issue stands in isolation. But neither are all pressing issues equal in foundational importance or gravity. The right to life undergirds… Read more

May 21, 2019

Tolkien (2019) Directed by Dome Karukoski Written by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford Rated PG-13 (for some sequences of war violence) Tolkien is a beautiful film. I wrote back in February that I had some misgivings, based on its trailer. But I said I would keep an open mind until I saw it. I have now seen it, and while it’s flawed in some ways, it succeeds wonderfully in telling the story of the young J.R.R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) and the… Read more

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