Category: State of the World

On a forbidden subject.

Our Church, among other things, is an institution, and in that it is structured and authoritative. The institutional aspect of the Church is a precious gift any thoughtful Catholic appreciates, but it also can be a challenge to defend and a burden to carry. It has its quirks and, as everything human, it has its …

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On the Ninth Commandment and the Lying Baptists

I have noticed a pattern in my classrooms over the last decade or so: As I elicit from my students the heart of the Law of Moses, we almost always trip over the Ninth Commandment. “Thou shalt not lie,” they tell me. Sometimes closer to the text: “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” And then …

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On presumption against suffering.

We seem to assume that joy should be and that suffering should not, and so we search for consolation. This “presumption against suffering” appears universally human, and it is, I suppose, natural and logical. Physiologically speaking, pain signals disorder—it is a warning of trouble and demands action to be eliminated to bring the body back …

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On who needs men and why.

This morning I was sent an article from The New York Times’ opinion pages entitled “Men, Who Needs Them?” You might think the title is a hook, but no. It’s more of a rhetorical question, because according to the author, Greg Hampikian, the answer is, “Increasingly, no one.” As in, men are unnecessary to humanity. Reasons? …

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On wanting to stop.

This was a while ago already – months and months, maybe a couple of years. Yet I think of him more often than I do of most others like him. He was sitting on a sidewalk in Center City Philly, and I was riding in a car, a friend driving us to a concert. We …

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On very small burdens.

I am going to tell you a story that happened to me two years ago, in Austria – not much of anything, just something I was thinking of today. A few of my readers might even recognize the context. I really do recall it as I will say, and yet it’s a parable. Because I …

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On the ingredients of faith.

Faith is love and hope. Yes, faith has ingredients – look, and you will see them. I see them because I didn’t have them both for the longest time: the time I was dying of faithlessness. I see them because this is how it came to me: in parts, and assembled into a whole. Because …

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On being Israel.

There seems to be a parallel between Jesus among Israelites then and Jews among nations now. The sent child of God carrying a special relationship with God, the light and the truth and the life, a preacher of the New Law, leading by example, judged, persecuted, and killed. The chosen people of God, carrying a …

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On staying in the Church.

As an adult convert in discernment of religious life, I am a strange and rare bird in the Catholic world in this day and age of priest shortage, emptying pews, aging convents, scandalous media coverage, suspicious glances toward anyone associated with organized Catholicism, apathy and distrust among the laity, and a bleeding and growing gap …

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On the giants of history

History is complex and interpreted, and there isn’t a single objective account of “actual” events. People are complex and never fully known, and their intentions, feelings, opinions, and actions vary from object to object, from subject to subject, and from time to time. Historical narrative is re-written by each new regime that comes to power. …

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