February 29, 2016

If you haven’t seen John Oliver’s methodical takedown of Trump, I recommend you check it out. Oliver believes we ought to rename him “Donald Drumpf,” because A. that was once his family’s name and B. because his power stems from his name, which emanates wealth and power. He’s like some video-game boss: find the weak spot and hit till he drops (or rather drumpfs). Oliver’s shtick could be funnier, but it might show us a way forward when it comes… Read more

February 28, 2016

(This post is part of a series. Parts one and two can be found here and here). So far, I’ve detailed how Nietzsche cleared the ground for my faith journey and how Kierkegaard started to edify something on the empty plain of my soul. Obviously words cannot exhaust my personal path, but I’d like to take this final installment to focus on a Catholic (for once), specifically Julian of Norwich. As I’ve hinted previously, systematic theology has more-or-less failed to… Read more

February 27, 2016

  (This post is part of a series. Part one can be found here). If Nietzsche cleared the ground for my Christianity, sweeping away bland liberalism and all other manner of modern panaceas, Søren Kierkegaard convinced me that only Christianity could fill the void (as if it could be filled in this life). Plainly put, Kierkegaard’s writing speaks to the modern (and post-modern) experience of fragmented loneliness. As the great opponent of Hegelian systematizing, his writings display a typically Scandinavian… Read more

February 25, 2016

Today and for the next day or two I’ll focus on my journey to Christianity, with specific references to the events, thinkers, and ideas that guided me along the way. With faith, I hope doing so will acquaint readers with that journey while guiding me along the befuddling and treacherous path that is bearing the cross. I was baptized, and that’s about it. We never attended Mass, not even on Christmas and Easter. All of my catechesis and the later… Read more

February 24, 2016

If you’d asked me a year ago, I’m not sure I could’ve envisioned myself writing this piece, not because I never thought I’d read Marx, but because what I found was incredibly different from my expectations. Raised in a mostly secular, but still generally politically-conservative, post-Soviet environment, the idea of going near Marx was scandalous. As I became religious, the father of Communism seemed less odious (because I was no longer beholden to the strictures of American political ideologies—liberal and… Read more

February 22, 2016

  We’ve officially passed St. Valentine’s Day, and, single as I am, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on love, on what it is we desire in, from, and through others in that all-encompassing concept: love. The Greeks offer us three varieties (I omit storge here): eros, philia, and agape, loosely defined as passionate love, friendly love, and universal-divine love (though none of these definitions exhausts the Greek sense). In the Symposium, Plato’s Socrates (recounting what he has learned from… Read more

February 21, 2016

  No works. Faith. No good. Or so goes the conventional Catholic understanding of justification in my untrained eyes. We are justified by faith, but if we don’t respond with works, guided by grace, well, who cares? Two Catholic Epistles, will help illustrate the point: What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food… Read more

February 20, 2016

“Léonce Crenier was as righteous and sincere, as forthright and generous during his youth with the anarchist utopians as he was in later years in his fervor as a monk.” – Monsignor Varin de la Brunellière, the Bishop of Martinique I only consider it half-a-good-thing, but I am undeniably a contrarian. George Grant, a little-known Canadian moral philosopher helped me to see my Christianity as something critical of the normal order; Piers Plowman and “Wulf and Eadwacer” are my two favorite poems,… Read more

February 20, 2016

Most of the time Catholics recoil when they’re called pagans. This line, popular among fundamentalist Protestants is, of course, offensive and wrong. At the same time, there is a certain sense in which I find it important to celebrate our “pagan” heritage. After all, lumping us in that camp puts us alongside Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, and (why not) Odysseus. Why think about this now? Earlier today I read a relatively reasonable defense of why Catholics aren’t Christians. I call it “reasonable,”… Read more

February 18, 2016

(EDIT: A friend of mine has published a response here. I actually don’t think much separates us, but I would like to include his objections). What follows is exploratory and suggestive. I don’t consider myself an ethicist, nor do I have a wholly transparent and satisfactory resolution to the problem interrogated in this blog post. I ask you, dear reader, to please read it in that spirit. Hypocrisy is supposed to be a bad thing; Christ denounces it in the… Read more

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