June 18, 2018

“A dog is better than I am, for he has love and he does not judge.” – Abba Xanthias “The books of conscience are opened, and the judgment begins.” – St. Alphonsus Liguori I tend (perhaps like most people) to think of myself as a decent judge of character. I think I can sniff out those are arguing in bad faith, those who don’t want to reflect on the conversation at hand, those who will never give an inch in… Read more

June 14, 2018

In a piece entitled “Dorothy Day: The Model You Want,” a friend once wrote: I suspect that Peter, also Chase, Bishop Barron, and I, see something more in Day than just fidelity to the Church. We see goodness and heroism. We see a desire to take Jesus at His word far greater than we manage. Instructions we treat as metaphors — turn the other cheek, go the second mile, give someone your second coat — she lived out at great… Read more

May 23, 2018

  The following is an interview with a dear friend (a writer and, dare I say, polymath) who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household. It was done remotely (as he and I are both travelling). He wrote responses to questions I sent him. Over the years, I’ve spent a good deal of time talking with him about what it means to grow up in a “traditional” community, one with a sense of separation from the secular world. Given the… Read more

May 16, 2018

Bishop Tobin of Providence is in the news for a recent tweet about the Catholic Church’s stance on female presbyters, abortion, and married priests. Yes, I did just write “married priests” in the same sentence as the other two. This merits attention. In part because it caused a bit of a Twitter debacle; in part, because it reflects something Eastern Catholics know too well: the Latin Church’s penchant for forgetting its non-Roman brethren. He effectively equates things we know as… Read more

May 15, 2018

I have spent some time lately reflecting on particular words—a short phrase really. Brevity brings with it great power, condensing meaning, demanding attention with its pithiness. Perhaps this is why we like to pull quotations from writers (excerpted sometimes way out of context). It might be why poetry holds such sway over so many. Who doesn’t know what a wheelbarrow looks like? Yet who wouldn’t rather hear one described by William Carlos Williams? Which words have I been meditating on… Read more

May 14, 2018

Pope Francis has become notorious for (among other things) his comments on “rigid” Catholics. Unsurprisingly, this has invited speculation from some very happy to applaud what they see as a turn against a traditionalism wistfully nostalgic for the “good old days” before Vatican II. As one (rather-balanced) piece by Timothy Kirchoff puts it: I have been pondering this statement since I first read it. I wondered whether I was the sort of person he had in mind. Was I a… Read more

May 2, 2018

I recently saw someone break American Catholics down into two categories: liberal and conservative. The former, he said, see all things through the lens of God’s mercy; the latter interpret life through the lens of repentance. According to him, both of these approaches are lacking and a third must be propounded. I can’t say I much agree with his classification (I think there are a lot of other sorts of Catholics in the US, and I wouldn’t say “mercy” and… Read more

May 2, 2018

At this point, “Gnosticism” is as much an accusation as a philosophy, a way anyone might identify him- or herself. Still, if contemporary writers are to be believed, everything from Jordan Peterson’s Jungianism, to New Age spiritualities, to Scientism are forms of a revived Gnosticism; the word does a lot of work. While I have my opinions on these ideas, I’m not terribly interested in how “gnostic” they are. Rather it seems to me (perhaps much like in the early… Read more

May 1, 2018

May First means many things. In England, it means May Poles and dancing.  For Latin Catholics, it signifies the beginning of the month of Mary, a celebration (complete with crowning, flowers, and singing) of the Queen of Heaven. And beyond these, for Leftists the world over the first of May means protests, a day of targeted unrest, channeling the fights carried on year round into one day of loud dissatisfaction. I see symbolic power in the coincidence of International Workers’… Read more

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