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

April 17, 2018

How short our span! If you once realized how brief, you would refrain from causing any beast or man the smallest grief, the slightest pain. – Angelus Silesius These lines from Silesius have got me thinking, thinking about something that seems to come and go from my life. It’s a kind of constant disappointment. “Why did he have to react like that?” “Why couldn’t she treat me the way I needed to be treated on such a bad day?” “I… Read more

April 12, 2018

“Materialism” is said in many ways, almost all bad according to contemporary Christians. Sometimes it means “vanity” or “consumerism.” Otherwise, it can mean “atomism” or “Epicureanism.” In other contexts, the word denotes “the evils of modern philosophy, emphasizing the material realm, ignoring the spiritual. It’s the second usage I’d like to discuss (all too briefly) in this post. Taken in this sense, materialism is good. In fact, it’s the most responsible position for a Christian to take today (again—I’m at… Read more

March 22, 2018

Here, by “Eastern Christianity” I mean mostly “Byzantine Christianity,” what most people know through Eastern Orthodoxy, or, if they’ve had the joy of finding them, the various Byzantine-Rite Catholic Churches. There is, after all, a set of Churches known by the common tag “Oriental Orthodox.” It might make sense to think about them as “Orientalized” in one way or another. That, however, is not my goal here. In part, because I don’t know as much about them, but, more importantly,… Read more

March 21, 2018

I’ve been thinking about this word a lot recently, in part because we read The Long Loneliness for a class of mine. It’s a text I’ve read before (and, in fact, that I recommended for this seminar) and that I hope I’ll read again. One question really seemed to trip everyone up: what to do about pacifism? You see this came up right in the wake of the Parkland Shooting. As we all know, this brings out the strongest opinions… Read more

March 20, 2018

I encounter this all the time. One man’s “righteous zeal” seems to another an unjust burst of rage. We call out the “false humility” of some, while their defenders will stand up for such a person’s unbelievably modesty and prayerfulness. It plays out left and right within any community, not least among Catholics. One could pick from about a million different examples, especially within the world of Catholic blogging. I’ll stick to one in the hope that it might illustrate… Read more

March 19, 2018

It’s no secret that I love Dorothy Day. She has helped me make sense of a Church that can often seem riven by division, academic equivocation, and a strangely-conservative politics. I don’t see much negative about Day, but she’s long been subject to criticism: she was a liberal (never mind her Anarchism and avowed anti-capitalism), she hated the sexual ethic of the Church, she opposed what it means to be an American. Her Byzantine analogue (and who knew she had… Read more

January 16, 2018

Journalist: What about your intellectual and cultural journey? Althusser: I encountered two men. The first one was Jean Guitton, who was a catholic philosopher, a friend of Pope Saint John XXIII and a close friend of Pope Paul VI. He helped me complete my dissertation. The other was a professor of history, whose name was Joseph Hours. He was a wonderful man. During the years 1936–1939, he talked to us about all that had happened: the war, the defeats, the… Read more

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