May 27, 2020

This past Sunday, many American Catholics celebrated the Ascension of the Lord into heaven. The proper time for it, of course, was actually last Thursday, but many dioceses have transferred it to the following Sunday. This past weekend also marked the reopening of the small parish in Kentucky where I play the organ. The governor has said that churches can reopen, and the bishop has given permission also with a number of stringent guidelines. Our first Mass was actually last… Read more

May 20, 2020

Welcome to this new Patheos blog, Light in the West! As you can see from the large number of posts already here, I’ve imported my previous blog, “Ithilien.” I’ve been blogging there rather intermittently since 2005. I’ve admired many of the Patheos bloggers for years and have hoped to join their number some day. I’m honored finally to be able to do so. I’ve been in full communion with Rome since Easter 2017. However, I spent the previous 20+ years… Read more

December 31, 2018

(Image attribution: still from It’s A Wonderful Life, National Telefilm Associates, public domain) It’s a Wonderful Life has been in my mind a lot recently. Not least because a few weeks ago I had the privilege of playing George Bailey in the climactic scene, as part of a “Christmas Showcase” put on by Spotlight Playhouse in Berea, Kentucky. My wife’s been talking about the movie a lot as a metaphor for our lives, and she was really upset that it… Read more

October 31, 2018

Three years ago, I wrote this rather polemical piece attacking the celebration of “Reformation Day” by Protestants. I still stand by what I wrote there. But, in my usual contrarian fashion, now that I’ve been a Catholic for a year and a half, I have a renewed appreciation for Protestant spirituality. I never rejected that aspect of Protestantism, and I still have problems with the Reformation as a norm. But I’m now much more sympathetic than I used to be… Read more

October 21, 2018

Every so often one hears conservative Catholics (or conservative Christians generally) say that people whom they consider insufficiently orthodox should just leave, because it’s the “honest” thing to do. Most recently, the Patheos blogger Mindy Selmys has announced that she is leaving the Catholic Church, and has been applauded for her “honest apostasy” on the website of the conservative Catholic periodical Crisis. Now for starters, I don’t think people leaving the Catholic Church but remaining Christians should be referred to… Read more

October 7, 2018

Consider the following tale from another timeline:It was sometime during the presidency of Barack Obama. There was a Supreme Court vacancy. Obama picked a prominent Muslim judge who, before becoming a judge, had worked in the Clinton White House. Indeed, his appointment as judge by President Clinton had been controversial because of charges of partisanship and of anti-Israel sentiment. His ability to be nonpartisan was very much in doubt, but at the same time he was highly qualified. Conservatives saw… Read more

June 28, 2018

The political party to which I belong, the American Solidarity Party, has been going through a lot of internal conflict in the past year. Founded in 2011 as the Christian Democratic Party USA, the ASP has roots in Catholic social teaching as well as the thought of the Reformed theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper. It’s an attempt to bring the European “Christian Democratic” tradition into American politics. Our most fundamental commitment is to a consistent ethic of life. If you… Read more

March 26, 2018

The Daily Mail announces breathlessly that “Christianity in Europe is dying out.” This is just the latest in a long series of such stories that flit about the Internet, often heralded with equal glee by atheists (for obvious reasons) and by conservative American Christians who are happy to use their European brothers and sisters as a foil for their own allegedly more vibrant expression of the faith.Peter Ormerod responds in the Guardian that this alleged “death” is actually a good… Read more

March 25, 2018

In this post, I’m going to lay out what I think the film The Last Jedi is about, and why the film is, for me at least, a thorough-going success, rivaling the original trilogy. This is not to deny the validity of many of the criticisms that have been made. The film doesn’t, for instance,  do a good job of explaining why the situation is so desperate and why the Republic appears to have failed entirely. But on the other hand,… Read more

December 16, 2017

I’ve been working on a series of blog posts on Brad Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation, which was published five years ago and which I finished reading about a year ago. So it probably shouldn’t surprise that I am now writing not about the new Star Wars (which I’m going to see on Tuesday) but the last one, which I only just watched last night (in preparation for seeing the new one). I’d heard a lot of mixed reports on it–many… Read more

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