February 9, 2017

Times are, to read the news, bleak. And if I needed any additional confirmation, my own recent sourness stands in accusation. I accuse myself: recently I have been less patient, less kind, than I ought. And yet—to rip it out of context—as the old hymn goes: the saints come marching in. Today, February 9th, is the feast (in the Ruthenian Church) of St. Nicephorus of Antioch. Saying my morning prayers, I was struck by the brief comment Archbishop Raya makes… Read more

February 8, 2017

This is a continuation of my recent “Catholic first” shtick (though I suppose that’s always supposed to be a Catholic’s shtick). I’m interested in something I’ve noted in many groups, though my concern here is obviously my own: Catholics. We affirm the same principles, what some might call lip service, but then demure when it comes to actually agreeing—it’s a sort of equivocation. Take the recent refugee-migrant-immigrant-Muslim (pick your poison) ban. No Catholic can deny that there is, within the… Read more

February 8, 2017

When I became more rigorously Christian, I recall being plagued by the question of prayer. On the one hand, even the nominally Catholic around me would invoke St. Anthony when they lost their keys; I saw my devout friends at Mass, heads bowed, hands clutched together, assumedly asking for something. On the other, I was haunted by a memory from sophomore theology class in high school: my teacher got in front of us and took to lecturing about Exodus, specifically… Read more

February 6, 2017

I am, undeniably, a little late to commenting on the first two-plus weeks of the Trump administration. It may even seem a little odd to launch a retrospective when the current appetite is for constant coverage of “news” as it becomes “new.” Apparently not even the president himself is immune to this lust. Yet, time allows for thought; it gives one time to talk with colleagues, to stew in problems often over-simplified in the moment of their emergence. Worse, fast… Read more

January 25, 2017

It seems I can’t go a day without hearing about the pope. Such is the benefit of having Roman Catholic friends, I suppose. I remember his election well. I was in a course on Crusader Art, went to go to the bathroom, came back, and we had a new pontifex. As a student at a Jesuit college, I saw the Holy Father’s elevation greeted with jubilation. Even one such as I, just coming to the Faith at the time, couldn’t… Read more

January 24, 2017

Irony has been essential in the rise of Donald Trump. I’ve written about it before, but since my word lacks force, you need only ask The Washington Post and NPR (we can even throw in Breitbart for good measure). Irony is negative in function; it establishes distance from an object and allows one to then tear it apart. It’s a way of exposing hypocrisy, simultaneously undoing the thing criticized and raising up the one doing the criticizing. It does not… Read more

January 21, 2017

The other day I wrote a reflection entitled, maybe too simply, “Humility.” I took about a thousand words to fail to capture just how deeply discomforting it is to be stuck between two warring worlds: “everyday folk” and the intelligentsia. That dichotomy might seem a bit stark for some: not every disadvantaged person hates the academy and not every academic or intellectual despises the farmers of the Midwest or the urban poor, but as a sketch, it’s functional. Lots of… Read more

January 19, 2017

I am sandwiched between two worlds. It’s very uncomfortable. On the one hand, I’ve long found a certain pride in where I come from. I like that most members of my family speak English not just with accents but in ways most “educated” people would say are simply incorrect: “I says,” “Yous guys,” “alls I mean.” There’s an earthiness to it, a simplicity I admire and have known all my life. There’s much to respect in a man and a… Read more

January 6, 2017

Look at your average internet comment box and you’re in for a treat. Take, for example, a few stand-outs from the Washington Post’s piece on the slow, but seemingly steady, fading away of liberal Protestant Churches that I wrote about a few days ago: Craig Reynolds 1/5/2017 6:44 PM EST Modern life is hard and the rigor required to find a way through it is tiring. Then at the end, you face the three doors of oblivion or uncertainty or… Read more

January 4, 2017

A piece online today at the Washington Post links “liberal” theology to declines in church membership while observing the opposite trend in “conservative” congregations. In it, the author, David Millard Haskell, presents his research as overturning older theories that “getting with the times” might revivify religious life in the 21st century: For example, we found 93 percent of clergy members and 83 percent of worshipers from growing churches agreed with the statement “Jesus rose from the dead with a real… Read more

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