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

August 23, 2020

During my 19 years of being an Episcopalian, this particular Sunday in the church year was always  uncomfortable for me. Every three years Matthew 16 would roll around and the priest would explain why “we” didn’t read this passage the way the “Roman Catholics” did. And almost invariably, the explanation would strike me as rather feeble. It was part of my general sense that as an Episcopalian (and as a Protestant generally) I wasn’t signing on to full-throated, unequivocal Christianity… Read more

August 21, 2020

One of my grandmother’s favorite medieval Catholics was, as it happens, St. Bernard of Clairvaux. He wasn’t the only Catholic she admired, but he was perhaps the only medieval or post-medieval canonized saint who meant a lot to her spiritually. And for good reason. The emphasis on a “personal relationship with Jesus” that means so much to modern evangelicals was, to a great extent, a product of Bernard’s theology and the Cistercian movement to which he belonged. The warrior Christ… Read more

August 16, 2020

I love the fact that the Old Testament readings at Mass correspond, as a general rule, to the Gospel readings. There’s something to be said, to be sure, for the approach of the Protestant “Revised Common Lectionary,” which provides a continuous reading of the Hebrew Scriptures. For study purposes, that is of course the best method. But for Mass, I think it’s not ideal. As Catholic Christians, we read Scripture liturgically and intertextually. Scripture is a vast organ whose stops… Read more

August 5, 2020

It’s becoming more common for conservative Catholics to criticize Vatican II. Most recently, Anthony Esolen has written a piece for Inside the Vatican calling for Catholics to ignore Vatican II and “move on.” Esolen refers to an earlier piece by Archbishop Vigano, also published in Inside the Vatican. Vigano, in turn, alludes to criticisms of Vatican II made by Khazakh bishop Athanasius Schneider published on the LifeSiteNews website. The three pieces have their differences. Schneider’s is by far the most… Read more

July 17, 2020

  I was planning to write a blog post, or possibly a series, on “cancel culture.” And I still intend to. I want to write about some of the concerns I have with the way progressives use social shaming to short-cut substantive debate. I want to address the complex issues surrounding when it’s appropriate to resort to some form of “excommunication,” and when it’s important to remain in respectful dialogue even with people whose views we may regard as profoundly… Read more

July 13, 2020

Nearly ten years ago, when I lived in Huntington Indiana, I volunteered to read to a 96-year-old religious sister (of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, headquartered in my town). In fact, I spent much of the time talking to her, and listening to her. Sister Roseanne was one of the most fascinating and remarkable people I’ve ever met. She had lived through the Great Depression, had traveled the world, and had joined the order in her 60s, serving in… Read more

July 8, 2020

My Patheos colleague “Fellow Dying Inmate” has been writing a fascinating series of posts on the development of monotheism in Christianity. FDI rightly challenges the common assumption (among Jews and Muslims as well as Christians) that monotheism goes all the way back to Abraham. He points out that for much of the Old Testament YHWH is referred to as the God of Israel, to whom Israel is called to be faithful, rather than as the one and only God who… Read more

July 5, 2020

In April 2009, English journalist Edward Luce asked President Barack Obama if he believed in “American exceptionalism.” Obama responded that he did. But he went on to qualify this affirmation: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Obama pointed to American sacrifices in the Second World War, American economic and military supremacy, and America’s “core set of values” as signs of America’s “exceptionalism.” At the… Read more

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

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