December 2, 2018

I really value the traditions of Advent. The preparations for Christmas are almost more exciting than the day itself, a reminder that the world is worth it after all. We are reminded in Advent that as much as the world can disappoint us, it is worth saving, worth fighting for. It is hard to know how to commemorate something as vast as the unearned salvation of humanity, but I do it by cooking. Not easy cooking either, special, extra effort,… Read more

October 14, 2018

A relative asked me recently: “When will you just decide you’re through with the Church?” He was referring to the fallout from the latest abuse crisis, a crisis still very much gripping the throat of the Church. How could anyone who claimed to care about power and abuse, someone who supported the “me too” movement and had listened to women describe years of harassment, support a church that had, in parts, preyed on the vulnerable and tried to cover it… Read more

October 5, 2018

I sometimes imagine talking to my daughters, who are quite young now, in twenty years or so about this period. I imagine telling them this was the nadir of modern American politics, a partisan and divided country so aggressive in its strategizing that the very health of the institutions around which our democracy was founded devolves into an illness and a distracting hatred. The Kavanaugh hearing was an extraordinary sight. I can recall nothing like it. Not even the Anita… Read more

September 18, 2018

It’s easy enough to be sad this Autumn. The Church is yet again in crisis and the fault lines of division in the church seem uniquely inflamed. Far Right Catholics, Viganò chief among them, have used the suffering of victims to attempt to derail a Papacy they see as too progressive. The tone of the debate is not worthy of the Church. Homophobia and bigotry are confused with morality and godliness. In a disgusting gesture, the Resurrection Parish in Chicago burned… Read more

September 5, 2018

Every year my family and I take a trip to the deep woods of Northern Michigan. I often joke it’s our trip to “the real America,” though Michigan is no realer than Connecticut or Massachusetts or New York. Still, there is something special about it and I look forward to it every year. My daughter and I were flipping through channels late one night on the satellite TV and in one of the very highly numbered channels, the Jim Bakker… Read more

August 26, 2018

American politics has embraced hyper-polarization as a way of dealing with uncomfortable truths about modern life. The country is changing. Myths we tell ourselves about what life was like back when our grandparents led happy lives in simplicity form too many of our judgments. We are not would-be space-adventurers believing in the promise of the future, rather, we are afraid of the present, bickering about the past. We sink into despair. We question if we can rebuild, reshape, reinvent. Meanwhile,… Read more

August 22, 2018

There is a small Episcopal church in my hometown and it has had an important role in my faith formation as a Catholic. Back in the early 00s, when Boston was embroiled in the clergy sex abuse scandal that would eventually result in the downfall of Cardinal Law, I looked on longingly at that small, white New England church as an escape route. If I became too angry with the church, or too distrustful of a leadership who had turned… Read more

August 7, 2018

If you don’t follow the poetry world, you may have missed the recent kerfuffle at The Nation in which a poem “How-To” by Anders Carlson-Wee sparked so much outrage it resulted in the quite rare move of the poetry editors, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith, apologized for ever having published it in the first place. The poem tries to examine the ways in which marginalized members of society are forced to perform their “otherness.” The problem, and the source of… Read more

August 4, 2018

July marked the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, the Papal Encyclical that solidified/clarified/revised the Church’s position on contraception in marriage. Before Humanae Vitae in 1968, there was Casti Connubii in 1930 which, to modern eyes, was even stricter than Humanae Vitae. It denounced not only any artificial means of contraception, but also any actions in marriage which worked against procreation, including what would later be known as NFP. I think of a family story when I consider Casti Connubii: a… Read more

July 31, 2018

When you attend a Jesuit college, you become fluent in the various labels that come with the Higher Ed branding of Catholic colleges: the Jesuits are contemplative, educated, devoted to service of others, and, perhaps above all, worldly. One could even call them un-parochial. Indeed, many Catholics who find themselves in a Jesuit institution after a parochial school can’t help but notice a shift. Still, that’s besides the point. Jesuit schools, good at basketball, strong in service, and always looking… Read more

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