April 20, 2019

You start by playing to fear. You will find plenty of people who, for various reasons, are feeling afraid and aggrieved. Exploit that for all it’s worth. Don’t bother concerning yourself with why they feel that way. After all, you’re not out to solve their problems or understand their concerns, but to win their loyalty. You can do this through branding, making superficial validations of grievances and vague but grandiose promises of restoration to greatness, and above all, feeding the fear…. Read more

April 15, 2019

“Oh my goodness – Notre Dame is burning!” I texted a friend just a few hours ago. He immediately replied with Mark 14:58, a verse particularly appropriate for Holy Week: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.'” As I write these words, the great cathedral is still burning; the spire and roof have collapsed; we do not yet know how extensive this damage… Read more

April 14, 2019

As Catholics know all too well, our Church has a serious illness, one that has been insufficiently treated for too long. Whatever causes we may each prefer to blame, St. Paul gives us a prescription in today’s epistle reading, the great Christ hymn preserved in his letter to the Philippians: Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, / did not regard equality with God / something to be grasped. / Rather, he emptied himself, / taking the form… Read more

March 23, 2019

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s response to the horrific mosque shootings in the city of Christchurch has been rightly hailed as exemplifying strong and compassionate leadership. Her (and her country’s) combination of compassion and resolve, lamentation and action, demonstrates what a national response to a tragedy can look like in a way that looks downright enviable from within the present American context. Still, I have to wonder whether every part of that response is fully translatable. I’m not talking… Read more

March 7, 2019

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the mass readings from two weeks ago, February 17 (the sixth Sunday in ordinary time).  I actually got the idea for this post at mass.  This happens a lot–I get an idea, I chew on it for a few hours, but it doesn’t get written down and fades away.  This one, however, has stuck with me.   Part of it is that the Gospel of St. Luke has always been my… Read more

February 2, 2019

There is a narrative being frequently reiterated by political analysts around the 116th Congress, particularly the Democratic-controlled House, which, the narrative goes, faces a dilemma in that the left wing of the Democratic base wants them to focus on impeaching Donald Trump, whereas “moderates” want to see more bipartisan cooperation. As an Independent of the radical center, who saw the rise to power of a thoroughgoing narcissist who is both a symptom and exacerbator of partisan gridlock as an extremely… Read more

January 14, 2019

NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday featured a poignant interview with Father Roy Snipes, who serves Mission, Texas’ La Lomita Chapel. The chapel, which dates back to the 19th-century missions, is now under threat of seizure by the federal government under eminent domain, another potential casualty of the war of the wall. Fr. Snipes calmly and sadly describes the beauty and historicity of the place, which he says would become “a desecrated sacred place” if the diocesan-owned land on which the chapel… Read more

January 13, 2019

There is a petition addressed to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that has recently been circulating online and gathering signatures.  It was started by Holly Taylor Coolman, an assistant professor of Theology at Providence College.   My fellow blogger Mark Gordon shared it on his Facebook page, and I liked it enough that I signed it and shared it on my page.  I suggested that we post it to the blog, and he agreed.   Here is the body of… Read more

January 6, 2019

This post began about a month ago, when I got a funding raising email from Formed. For those who are not aware of this website, it is an on demand e-library run by the Augustine Institute, which describes its mission as follows: The Augustine Institute serves the formation of Catholics for the New Evangelization. Through our academic and parish programs, we equip Catholics intellectually, spiritually, and pastorally to renew the Church and transform the world for Christ. Formed is marketed… Read more

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