December 25, 2017

These are the words with which my Church greets the birth of Christ: Christ is born! The traditional response is slavite Jeho, or “glorify Him!” Slight variations obtain, depending if you’re Russian, Ukrainian, or whatever other Slavic Byzantine tradition one might happen to be, but the point is always the same: God dwells among us; let us offer Him His due praise. This is, in a way, impossible. We cannot offer God all that He deserves. If we could, He… Read more

December 22, 2017

This seems an obvious statement, but, as with all things obvious, it’s only so when it counts, counts for the one speaking anyway. Our culture is obsessed by the idea that language shouldn’t be allowed primacy of place, especially when it comes to offense. In fact, there’s a whole Oxford Dictionaries entry on “snowflakes”: The Trump presidency has intensified the war of words between those people who voted for the billionaire businessman and those who oppose his policies. One term… Read more

December 12, 2017

These sorts of pieces often begin by letting the reader know where the word “nice” comes from. As a medievalist, I especially should delight in bringing this little bit of half-forgotten knowledge to light. It comes to us from the Latin “nescius,” meaning “ignorant” (itself coming from “nescire,” “to not know”) by way of French. By the late 12th century, it meant “silly” or “stupid.” One can observe its transition from its initial meaning to the one we know today… Read more

December 6, 2017

Twitter and Facebook have made it more than clear that Latin Advent has begun. Devotionals are being posted, prayers recommended, and all sorts of exhortations are circulating through the digital world. It occurred to me that many people (you treasured few who waste bits of your time reading my work!) might not know much about the Byzantine version of this liturgical period, a preparatory time second only to the Great Fast (before Pascha, also known as Easter) for those of… Read more

December 5, 2017

Most of what I write for this blog deals with, naturally enough, Catholicism. Sometimes I write reflections; other times I focus on socio-political questions. At times, I just address whatever of interest is going on in the Church. But every now and then, since I’m a graduate student, I weigh in on academia. This is one of the times. You see, a lot has been written about the GOP tax plan. Almost everyone knows something about it. What has received… Read more

December 4, 2017

“To coerce a man is to deprive him of freedom—freedom from what? Almost every moralist in human history has praised freedom. Like happiness and goodness, like nature and reality, the meaning of this term is so porous that there is little interpretation that it seems able to resist.” – Isaiah Berlin Being American, I can’t help but hear the words “freedom” and “liberty” a lot. Every sporting event, never mind every communal gathering, finds its beginning in our national anthem:… Read more

November 20, 2017

It may seem rather odd for a Catholic to juxtapose these two terms, to place the Faith alongside a word that’s most often taken to mean a misguided viewpoint, even a self-serving way of seeing. Many would say that the whole point of becoming Catholic is to enter into a relationship with Christ and His Church. Our goal is to avoid refracted and insufficient ways of seeing, to pursue the greatest good rather than deficient, created ones. Certainly that is… Read more

November 13, 2017

If I may begin abruptly: an ex-girlfriend once told me we couldn’t be together because she had to find herself first, and I’d heard that many times before—from friends, from acquaintances, really just belching forth in popping bubbles from the social soup in which we swim. It’s a common refrain, and, to be frank, one that gets disparaged quite a bit, especially within academic and Christian communities, in which bloggers, tweeters, and opiners of all kinds think themselves smarter than… Read more

November 11, 2017

  This post is a consolidation of an essay written by Nathan Smolin, a PhD Student in Classics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, originally published in three parts (which can be found here, here, and here). In order to make this long, but incredibly insightful, work more easily navigable and readable, I’ve republished it here. I hope it may benefit you, dear reader. Among the supposed “great dates” of history, one stands out strongly to those interested… Read more

November 10, 2017

I’m currently at a conference at Notre Dame. Yesterday, I took part in a panel that, whatever its initial pretensions, ended up discussing concepts like “Great Books” and “humanism,” two nebulous, but, in their own way, important, topics. I owe much to my interlocutors, so I’d like to start by offering my thanks; the following (in)coherent ramblings are, at bottom, rooted in what they had to share. These questions seem worthy of address largely because there’s a lot of discussion… Read more

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