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

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


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