May 15, 2019

Michael Brendan Dougherty’s My Father Left Me Ireland is a book as concise, and almost as elegant and sharp, as its title. Those five words tell you almost the whole story: how his Irish father met his Irish-American mother, how she became pregnant, how they broke up and he returned to Ireland while she ended up in the fatherless oubliettes of American suburbia; how she took her son to Irish-language weekend retreats, sang the old rebel songs to him, handed… Read more

May 14, 2019

Hey all. Problems with your teeth can cause serious health issues; missing or damaged teeth can keep you from getting jobs, and can be both symptom and cause of depression and despair. And yet there’s even less support for dental care in the US than for other forms of health care, and people with bad teeth are often blamed for them and given less help or compassion rather than more. I’m working on a piece about the spiritual aspects of… Read more

May 14, 2019

This past Saturday a small band of weirdos met in a park to practice our chant, then headed to the Cloisters to do some guerrilla venerating. Our pilgrimage made me think about relics; and about public witness, and the relationship between these two aspects of Christian practice. The Cloisters, like many other museums, holds certain real relics, including a relic of the True Cross. First of all, relics should be venerated not merely appreciated; second of all, relics should not… Read more

May 12, 2019

at the University Bookman: “We work to-day to turn out, not accomplished young women, nor agreeable wives, but soldiers of Christ, accustomed to hardship and ridicule and ingratitude.” These words express the mission of the Convent of the Five Wounds, where nine-year-old Nanda Grey is sent shortly before World War I. Nanda, the daughter of a recent convert to Catholicism, plunges eagerly into the world of the Five Wounds—a world where the only storybooks allowed are martyrs’ lives (“the pressing… Read more

May 7, 2019

A couple years ago, my friend’s toddler invented a game he could make his mother play. “Mama, lie down!” (She did this happily, let me tell you.) “Okay, mama. You are a beached whale. And I’m a police officer giving you a ticket.” Kids are cops, this is the conventional wisdom. Kids love rules and playacting that they get to make and enforce the rules; in their play they treat rules and enforcement as ends in themselves. The purpose of… Read more

May 6, 2019

this is great stuff: After breakfast, Peter and Jesus had a conversation which raises an interesting question about how to understand the verbs for love—agapáo and philéo—used in the original Greek. Agapáo (Strong’s #25) is a verb that means “to love” related to the noun agápe (love). Philéo (Strong’s #5368) is also a verb usually translated “to love,” related to the nouns phílos, (friend) and philía (friendship). The passage is difficult to translate because although English has always had separate… Read more

April 24, 2019

The workshop descriptions for Revoice 2K19 are live! Revoice is a conference which seeks “to support and encourage gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other same-sex attracted Christians—as well as those who love them—so that all in the Church might be empowered to live in gospel unity while observing the historic Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.” As far as I know it’s the only such conference, in the world. I went last year, the first year. I gave an incoherent talk… Read more

April 24, 2019

being a Catholic woman: Hey– Back in 1998 or 1999, when I was a very recent convert to Catholicism and full of boisterous, somewhat obnoxious delight in the Church, I told my best friend that as a Catholic, “It’s just that my worldview is so unified!” One of the great blessings of friendship is that she made fun of me for this for twenty years. It can be easy to feel like the Catholic Church hands you an intricate, interlocking… Read more

April 23, 2019

When I was in fifth grade my family and I moved briefly to Santa Monica to be with family during a difficult time. It was hard for everybody; least hard for me, but I missed home a lot. I was unhappy and acted badly. So for a long time I thought of “LA” as a place I hated–a place where I’d been unhappy even though a lot of people were very kind to me. And of course nobody will ever… Read more

April 23, 2019

Some personal news: Christ is risen! Holy Thursday: I avoided the Triduum services at my home parish, the Cathedral, for the reason I talked about here. (Though I was at the Easter Vigil.) Instead, with some friends I attended a Solemn Mass of the Lord’s Supper at a nearby church. It was one of many churches around the District where rapid demographic transformation (she said carefully) has left the parish with mostly-black elders and mostly-white newcomers. So the ushers were… Read more

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