October 24, 2020

Recently, I was asked to write an essay from my Secular Franciscan region’s quarterly newsletter, similar to the one I wrote a few months ago.  This time I chose the topic of structural racism.  I just submitted the final draft and I will post it here when it appears.  But this one went through a couple major drafts, and I want to salvage for use here an argument that got dropped at my editor’s recommendation.  (Like any good writer, I… Read more

October 24, 2020

My late friend and mentor Ivan Kauffman once described himself as “probably the only living person who speaks both fluent Mennonite and fluent Catholic.” If these words were true when he first wrote them, a handful of others, myself included, would eventually follow him to the same ecclesial bilingualism and, if not quite an official dual citizenship, an inescapably dual identity as self-described Mennonite Catholics. More precisely, 10 years ago today, with Ivan standing behind me as my sponsor, I… Read more

October 23, 2020

In November 1900, a fashionable, urban Polish poet from an upper-class background married a rural peasant. In a region of Europe where people of different class backgrounds were usually kept apart by strict social norms, this was a rare event. But some were seeking to break that pattern. In 1795 Poland had been completely colonized by Prussia, Russia and Austria, and the Polish people had spent the entire nineteenth century fighting a series of failed uprisings. Many believed that marriages… Read more

October 7, 2020

This November, American Catholics will participate in an event of historical, even cosmic, proportions, an event that, though it shows up in our calendars with predictable regularity, is arguably more important to Americans this year than ever before. If approached with a well-formed and thoroughly Catholic perspective it has the potential to alter the fate, not only of the United States, but of the world, and not only of government and politics, but of individual eternal souls. I am talking,… Read more

October 4, 2020

It has become something of a cliché, but like all clichés it holds a truth: the American Dream has become the American Nightmare. For many groups of people living in this country, this is nothing new. Founded on the genocide of indigenous people and built with the labor of people forcibly taken from their homes, enslaved and abused, the United States of America originates in a story that was a dream for some and a nightmare for others. Meanwhile, as… Read more

September 27, 2020

In 1848, Karl Marx opened the Communist Manifesto with the now famous sentence, A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. Reflecting recently on the challenges facing the Church in the United States today, I realized that many of our problems can be summarized by paraphrasing Marx: Two spectres are haunting the Catholic Church — the spectres of communism and racism. In the original, spectre meant a ghost, a phantom or phantasm, an apparition.  It was, like the… Read more




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