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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

July 30, 2018

On our last full day in France (we’re settled back in the Nutmeg State now, even if our heads are still a bit on French time), we visited the Pantheon in a hilly location in Paris not far from the Sorbonne and the Collège de France. It’s a heady sort of neighborhood, full of bookstores and small cinemas showing old films. It’s the sort of place where you can be tricked into thinking all anyone does is read, go to… Read more

July 22, 2018

I have been slow writing these columns lately because I have been in France for the past 6 days, visiting Aix-en-Provence and now Paris. I tend to travel a lot, but usually not to places so desirable (Northern Michigan and New Orleans are usually my favorite places to visit). Yet, this trip has been very special. I brought along family and have enjoyed sharing my love of French culture with them. Travel, even in humble road trip form, is always… Read more

July 14, 2018

In the past year, I have become involved in a new ministry at my parish devoted to the hungry and the homeless. It’s the sort of quiet radical ministry that starts small, harnesses its passion, and then, within a few months, is making a huge difference in the community. To feed and clothe others: what could be more indicative of the outward work of the Christian? Inspired by a guest speaker who came to our church, I went to a… Read more

July 11, 2018

So often in prayer, we hope for yes. A yes to our wishes. A yes to ourselves. A yes to tell us that, yes, indeed we are on the right path. We are deserving. We are fundamentally good. Yes, we are talented. Yes, everything will be ok. Yes, despite our failings, we will still find happiness. Yes, the kids will be ok. Yes, the future will bring good things. Yes yes yes. It can be done. It will be done…. Read more

July 9, 2018

A while ago I wandered into an argument on social media. Always a wise move (he says with sarcasm). The source of the argument was a friend sharing a homophobic meme about the Jesuit priest Father James Martin. As the product of Jesuit education, I bristled. As a Bostonian who struggled to hold on to his faith during the worst years of the sex abuse crisis in the church (said homophobic meme wandered into pederastic subject matter), I found it… Read more

July 9, 2018

When I was young, so many descriptions of prayer tried to emphasize how active and transformative the act of praying could be. I think of the pastor in the satirical religious comedy Saved (if you haven’t seen that movie, go watch it now) screaming at a group of young people: “Alright! Let’s get our Christ on! Let’s kick it Jesus style! You want to rock with the ultimate rebel?..Who’s down with G-O-D? Jesus rules!” The movie was a cringe-worthy indictment of… Read more

July 3, 2018

July 4th always brings me back to Boston. In most cases, it is because I am revisiting my homeland to celebrate the only proper way: with the music of the Boston Pops and the 1812 Overture (even if last year it was only on Bloomberg TV). But even when I’m not in Boston (and I have spent July 4th everywhere from London to Ohio), I think of Boston. Boston is a special place for literature and an especially sacred place… Read more


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