May 5, 2024

This Easter season I’ve been thinking about the message of the Resurrection in light of my recent reading of David Bentley Hart’s That All Shall Be Saved. This pugnaciously beautiful book has challenged my longstanding “hopeful universalism.” Hart claims that the kind of hope for universal salvation championed by Hans Urs von Balthasar is a weak compromise. Rather, he believes that Christians should affirm confidently that Jesus will save everyone. Anything less, Hart thinks, makes Christian theology incoherent and even immoral.... Read more

January 21, 2024

  My Patheos colleague David Schloss has just published a post on the evangelical theological movement known as open theism. I welcome this because I want to see Catholics engage more deeply with the theological discussions going on among Protestants. Also, my own encounter with open theism was tied up with my journey to Catholicism in several ways. The robot box First of all, I first encountered open theism in a Catholic context. (At least this is one of the... Read more

December 31, 2023

  Remembering Benedict a year after his death The death of Pope Benedict XVI a year ago prompted a wide range of responses, reflecting his decidedly mixed legacy and reputation.  I began writing my own reflections but never finished or  published them. The one-year anniversary of his death seemed like  a good time to revisit that unfinished post, so that’s what I’ve done here. And while I won’t be directly addressing Fiducia Supplicans, I’m well aware that I’m talking about... Read more

December 16, 2023

  In the shadow of Lent Advent has always stood in the shadow of Lent. As the “other” season of fasting and solemnity and “paring back,” it has often been treated as a milder version of the Great Fast. In the Byzantine tradition, it is practiced for forty days like Lent, and Lent is often referred to as “Great Lent” with the implication that Advent (and the two other fasting periods of the Byzantine tradition) are lesser examples of the... Read more

April 8, 2023

Anyone who belongs to a liturgical Christian tradition (and perhaps many who don’t) has heard Psalm 22 a lot in the past week. So I decided to share publicly a translation of the Psalm that I made some months ago as part of my ongoing project of reading through the Bible in Hebrew. I was so struck by the imagery of this well-known Psalm in particular that I wanted to try my hand at translating it myself. This is not... Read more

December 12, 2022

  In my ongoing project of reading through the Hebrew Bible in the original, I’m currently in the Psalms (Psalm 43 at the moment). The repetition, almost monotony, of their vocabulary strikes me a lot more when I read them in Hebrew than when I read them in English. Over and over again the Psalmist complains about his enemies and his troubles in almost exactly the same language, begs God for help in the same stock phrases, and promises praise... Read more

November 8, 2022

In a Facebook conversation a while ago, I made the claim that all the major religions reached their current form through a long and difficult process of rational inquiry. A number of people (presumably atheists) reacted to this with snarky comments about how ridiculous it was to ascribe “rational inquiry” to religious traditions. The most succinct response was: “A belief in talking snakes does not come [by] rational inquiry. Try again.” So I did. Here’s a longer and more developed... Read more

November 3, 2022

No cliche is more common in moderate and progressive circles in our culture than the claim that “religion and politics shouldn’t mix.” Around election time, this often takes the form of claims that politicians oughtn’t to let their religious views influence their political actions. Anyone who disagrees with this is taken to be a right-wing extremist. The United States is, allegedly, in danger from a conspiracy of dangerous theocrats who want to impose their religion on everyone. The only answer... Read more

November 1, 2022

One of the phrases that conservative Protestants like to use about the Reformation is that it “restored the Biblical Gospel.” Or, with more nuance, that it restored it to “full clarity.” Whatever the Reformation is, that’s the one thing it quite clearly didn’t do. It didn’t take Christians back to a more authentically first-century way of thinking about the faith, at least if we are speaking of the “magisterial Reformation” exemplified above all in Martin Luther. (The Anabaptists could make... Read more

September 25, 2022

When I was about nine years old, a few years after having moved to the United States from England, I was at a meeting of AWANA. (AWANA is a fundamentalist imitation of Scouts and mostly consists of learning Bible verses, but that’s not important right now.) A girl at a table near mine was looking at a Canadian coin with her friends and I heard her exclaim, “Who is that girl?” I marched right over, looked at the coin, and... Read more

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