January 12, 2020

The most common question I am asked is “How do you reconcile your Catholic faith with your studies?” or the popular rhetorical variation, “You study theology and neuroscience? That’s an odd combination.” Well, maybe this is the second most common question I get these days, after “Who cuts your hair?” (answer: my housemate Mike). The former question has come up in a multitude of contexts, from Catholic university campuses to the National Institutes of Health, from conversations with strangers on… Read more

December 20, 2019

I have the greatest housemates. Before my arrival I was nervous about housing, because I was assigned to an eleven-bedroom cottage for graduate students. Eleven bedrooms? How can eleven people get along, especially when we study different things and speak different languages and keep different hours? I expected it to devolve quickly. I was spectacularly wrong. I’ve spent many years living with people I’m not related to, but this has been by far the most joyful and easiest arrangement. And… Read more

November 27, 2019

I have two problems with how we celebrate Thanksgiving. First, we often treat it as an isolated event that is both stripped of its historical context and separate from the rest of our own selfish and ungrateful existence. Second, the increasing commercialization of the holiday has turned it into a feast of avarice, in which we pay our respects at the altar of Capitalism with a day of frantic shopping. Thanksgiving is much too important to be celebrated this way…. Read more

November 7, 2019

Our culture fears anything related to death. We fear ageing, not merely out of distaste for the accompanying wrinkles and back pain. We fear illness, and not only because of the pain and high medical bills that it brings. No, we fear ageing and illness as harbingers of death. So we work to keep them at bay, studiously avoiding any reminder of our mortality. Perhaps we shouldn’t. Fear of death does not generate life. No matter how studiously we avoid… Read more

October 31, 2019

My daily commute here at Cambridge is glorious. Depending on the day of the week, I either walk through verdant cow pastures or wind my way through medieval cobblestone streets. By the time I get home, I’m always in a better mood. Time in green, natural spaces relaxes and uplifts me. In August, my return to an urban setting was jarring. I spent the summer at an abbey in the foothills of Colorado; compared the peace of that vast natural… Read more

October 29, 2019

The news is filled with alarming statistics on child health and well-being. Rates of anxiety and depression are skyrocketing; racial disparities persist in childhood trauma; early childhood education remains inaccessible for many American children. And yet, there are signs of hope. Many modern social, technological, and economic changes have the potential to improve child health. Stigma around mental illness is decreasing. Innovations in urban design are improving neighborhood health. Scientific research is correcting and expanding our understanding of child development…. Read more

October 18, 2019

If you know me, you know that I like thinking about death. Not in a morbid way. No, I like it because meditating on death allows me to understand the truth and purpose of my life. Because of this, I always look forward to Week IV of the Psalter. That week, Morning Prayer on Monday begins with one of my favorite meditations on death, Psalm 90. O Lord… / You turn men back to dust / and say: Go back, sons… Read more

September 30, 2019

The idea that neuroscience disproves the existence of free will is prevalent in popular culture. At this point, it’s old news, something that you might hear in passing at a cocktail party or on a talk show. But has it? A closer examination of the literature shows that (1) the neuroscience experiments in question are full of problems and limitations and (2) this isn’t a scientific conclusion at all. The foundational neuroscience research Research in this area began in the… Read more

September 6, 2019

We are in the midst of an epidemic of gun violence in America. Every week seems to bring a new tragedy to the front pages of our newspapers. This year alone, there have already been almost twenty mass shootings. This problem has plagued the United States for decades, and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. And, tragic as they are, mass shootings account for only a small fraction of all gun-related deaths. They’re only the tip of the iceberg…. Read more

August 31, 2019

Guess what! I’m back. If you’re a regular reader, you noticed that I took a long hiatus this year. During the break, I gave my full attention to the completion of my senior thesis and my graduation from Notre Dame. I also spent my summer at a rural monastery (stay tuned for an upcoming post about monastic life!). However, I really missed writing. So, I’ve decided to start blogging again. What’s next? I plan to focus much of my writing… Read more

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