March 6, 2021

  This past Sunday, the Catholic lectionary juxtaposed two famous Biblical stories. In the Old Testament reading, we had the powerful and troubling story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. Our Gospel reading, in contrast, was the transfiguration of Jesus. By putting these stories together, the lectionary is inviting us to think about them in connection with each other. In both stories, a “beloved son” goes up a mountain. In both stories, there’s some kind of divine acknowledgment of a special… Read more

February 21, 2021

In grad school, I read a book called Veiled Threats by Michael Carroll, a Canadian scholar has written a number of books about popular/folk Catholicism in several different cultures. This book, like its predecessor Madonnas that Maim, focused on the role of the Virgin Mary in southern Italian Catholicism from the fifteenth century to the present. Carroll describes a common practice in southern Italy of covering statues of the Virgin Mary (and I believe sometimes other statues as well) with veils and… Read more

February 16, 2021

Did Christ become a human being or a man? According to the German bishop Franz-Josef Bode, the first answer is the correct one. At a forum he chaired on the role of women in the Church, Bishop Bode stated, about a year ago, that Christ became a “human being” rather than a “man” in the Incarnation. This shocked his episcopal colleague Bishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas, who called Bishop Bode to repent of his heresy. Due to the way Facebook… Read more

January 23, 2021

Many Catholics claim that a wide variety of issues are “prolife.” I am one of them. We affirm as Catholics that God has made all human beings in His image. Therefore, all human beings have inalienable dignity. When we encounter a difficult moral issue, the first question we should ask is whether a given position affirms or denies that dignity. This requires us, among other things, to make the protection of human life a paramount ethical priority. Anything that harms and… Read more

January 11, 2021

Near the end of G. K. Chesterton’s play “The Judgment of Dr. Johnson,” the hero, 18th-century writer and curmudgeon Samuel Johnson, is talking to the (fictional) American revolutionary John Swallow Swift. Swift has just learned that France has entered the war on the side of the Americans, and prophesies that this is the beginning of the triumph of republicanism all over the world. Johnson replies: it is true that I am of an older fashion; much that I love has… Read more

December 1, 2020

However reluctant many Trump supporters are to admit it, it now seems quite clear that Joe Biden is going to be the next President of the United States. And clearly American Catholics are deeply divided in their attitudes to this prospect. On the day of the election, when the result was very far from certain, Catholic convert and natural law theorist Hadley Arkes wrote an article for The Catholic Thing on the potential Presidency of Joe Biden. Arkes regarded the prospect… Read more

November 29, 2020

Over the past few weeks, during Year A of the Eucharistic lectionary, we’ve been hearing a series of parables from Matthew told by Jesus shortly before his crucifixion. Many of these are of a rather threatening nature. The foolish bridesmaids are shut out in the dark. The slave who didn’t invest his master’s money is, again, thrown out into the darkness. The “goats” who didn’t recognize the King in the person of the “least of these” are cast into the… Read more

November 1, 2020

Some of my conservative evangelical friends have been upset (or perhaps even gleeful?) this past week over the rather old news that the Pope said that atheists could go to heaven. Apparently an article from the Independent in 2015 has been circulating on social media, no doubt because it was originally published in October. I mistakenly thought it was something new the Pope had said, at first. But it’s still worth commenting on, since this weekend is when many Protestants… Read more

October 27, 2020

Progressives are understandably in mourning due to the confirmation yesterday of Amy Coney Barrett as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. I have mixed feelings about the confirmation myself. I will shed no tears if she votes to overturn Roe v. Wade, which I think is a badly argued decision and a serious obstacle in the path of any just and reasonable resolution of the abortion controversy. (I also am under no illusions that reversing Roe is a panacea,… Read more

October 6, 2020

My trusty colleague and sparring partner in matters of Biblical interpretation, “Fellow Dying Inmate,” wrote a post back in August on the book of Revelation that upset a number of readers. Of course, writing on Revelation is bound to upset a lot of people. I would have thought that Catholics would be less inclined to go ballistic on these subjects than evangelical Protestants, but alas, I’m no longer sure that’s true. Four Gospels or four constellations? FDI argued, in particular, that the… Read more

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