June 28, 2020

First, they came for the Confederate statues. But it didn’t stop there. Soon, the “woke” hordes were clamoring to tear down any statue of anyone who owned slaves. Then, anyone who had done anything that could be construed as racist. Eventually, every white historical figure, even those famous for fighting against slavery. And finally, activist Shaun King this week called for the removal of statues showing Jesus as a “white European.” This, at least, is how conservatives are telling the… Read more

June 23, 2020

Most of the arguments I get into on Facebook are about theology or politics. And by politics I mean grand issues shaking the nation. But yesterday, for once, I got into a purely local dispute. On a group for residents of my small Kentucky town, someone asked for people to suggest new businesses that the town needs. One person replied that “brick and mortar” businesses are a thing of the past, and further that the town possibly needs to abandon… Read more

June 13, 2020

Last Monday, police withdrew from six blocks of Seattle’s “Capitol Hill” neighborhood, abandoning the area to protesters. The protesters established a “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” or “CHAZ.”  Yesterday, Tucker Carlson announced sarcastically, “The world welcomes its newest country,” mocking the “zone” as an attempt to establish an independent nation. Carlson’s intro made his attitude to the broader phenomenon of “Black Lives Matter” protests clear. “Vandals are defacing our country,” he declared. And it’s clear that for him, the founders of… Read more

June 5, 2020

It seems to be remarkably hard for many white conservative Christians to affirm the slogan “black lives matter.” There are a bunch of possible reasons for this, of course. People who demur at the term sometimes point to the fact that the slogan is also the title of a (loose) organization, and that this organization has an official belief statement. Many conservative Christians, including many Catholics, will disagree with some things in that belief statement (primarily concerning queer and transgender… Read more

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

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