04 Nov 2020

Divisiveness on Conciliar Post

We live in a divisive time. As I write these words, the outcome of America’s presidential election is uncertain (and may remain so for some time). Regardless of the result, it will leave many unsatisfied and will further foment tension. Now is a fitting time to remind ourselves that, at Conciliar Post, our mission is to facilitate meaningful dialogue across Christian traditions. This is becoming more and more difficult. The reality is that our own

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28 Sep 2020

Free Speech Round Table: When to Speak and when to be Silent

The July 7th publication of A Letter on Justice and Open Debate in Harper’s Magazine sounded an alarm: “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.” Glancing at the list of signatories, many of us will find figures we respect—or at least figures to whom we listen. Their letter argues against “swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.” It

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17 Aug 2020

Infinities upon Infinity: Reflections on Borges’ Library of Babel

The Myth of Babel The Library of Babel is one of those seminal texts to which I must return regularly if I am to feel fully alive. Alongside works like Annie Dillard’s novella Holy the Form, this is art that is best read out loud and pondered, cherished—even venerated. For it informs us deeply of our distinctively human condition. It rips back the veil and exposes our woefully inadequate, time-bound conceptions of God (and God’s

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22 Jul 2020

Mystical Death

The Situation If there’s one thing we don’t like thinking about, it’s death. Yet there is nothing more important, nothing that more defines who we are and how we act, than our approach to death and our understanding of its significance. “Look to the end,” Thucydides and Herodotus remind us, to determine the utility and worthiness of a human life. “Persevere to end,” the martyrs and saints remind us, to gain the crown of life

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24 Jun 2020

Podcasts in Review, Two

One of our most popular posts is Podcasts in Review by Eastern Orthodox poet Kenneth O’Shaughnessy. I now present this compendium—with its shamelessly-stolen title—by Roman Catholic non-poet Benjamin Winter. 😊 My qualifications? Since 2014 I’ve listened to podcasts for at least an hour each day. That’s a bit scary when you do the math! They are my constant companions from car rides to laundry-folding sessions, and I fall asleep to them most nights. The recommendations

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30 Jan 2020

Jeremiah and the Burden of Being

Woe to me, mother, that you gave me birth! a man of strife and contention to all the land! Because I bore your name, O LORD, God of hosts. I did not sit celebrating in the circle of merrymakers; Under the weight of your hand I sat alone because you filled me with indignation. Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? You have indeed become for me a treacherous brook,

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Ohio State Library Stacks
13 Nov 2019

What We’ve Been Reading: Fall 2019

Here at Conciliar Post, many of our authors are avid readers. Below are some of the books we’ve been reading in 2019 along with a short review for each one. Feel free to join the conversation and offer your recommended readings. John Ehrett, Lutheran Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age (Perry L. Glanzer, Nathan F. Alleman & Todd C. Ream) The authors—professors at Christian universities—lay out a

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16 Sep 2019

The Phantom

What is the artistic spirit within us that arises, unannounced, to haunt our homes? Today I saw my daughter pounding furiously with pencils upon paper. Brow furrowed, she inordinately assembled a haphazard diaspora of points by means of pummeling. Unsatisfied with one color, she expanded the oeuvre to encompass black, green and grey. The shimmering graphite reflects blindingly into my eyes as I gaze now upon the paper, turning it in my hands and observing

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02 Sep 2019

Round Table: The Knowability of God

The Scriptures are somewhat ambiguous about how fully God can be known by human beings. On the one hand, the Son has revealed God to be our Father and has pioneered the path of faith—offering unprecedented access through grace. Jesus teaches that the pure in heart “will see God” (Matt 5:8). Likewise in the first Johannine epistle: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do

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21 Aug 2019

Book Review: The Sparrow

Why is it absolutely essential that you read two books about Jesuits encountering aliens? I will begin to answer that question in part one of this (largely) spoiler-free review. Deus Vult? A Review of Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow The Sparrow’s opening pages describe a Jesuit mission to an alien world gone horribly wrong. We hear the story from Emilio Sandoz—the book’s protagonist and the sole survivor of a small group who first visited the

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08 Jul 2019

Christ and the Future

When we commune with another, we forget self. We are opened to transformation. Change appears on the horizon of ego. It has deemed itself insulate, indomitable—impermeable to all that derails continuity. Yet in beginning and end, life is a gift. We receive our being from another. And we must all give up our being to another, placed under the care of those who will lead us where we do not want to go (John 21:18).

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06 Mar 2019

Compendium of Round Table Responses

Below, you can find an up-to-date catalog of my responses to various Conciliar Post Round Tables, as well as links to where they originally appeared. I pray that these thoughts will be helpful to some, and will encourage all to delve further into the mysteries of faith. September, 2019: The Knowability of God “[The LORD] made darkness his covering around him…” –Ps 18:11 Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of discursive practice in Christian theology:

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08 Feb 2019

Round Table: Confession

In 1996, the independent Scottish band Belle & Sebastian released their second full-length album, If You’re Feeling Sinister. More than twenty years later, Sinister is still revered as one of the greatest albums of the 90’s—ranking alongside notable alternative rock acts such as Beck, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, and Nirvana. While the aforementioned bands were known for their use of heavily distorted electric guitars, Belle and Sebastian crafted a gentler tone, reminiscent of 60’s era folk-rock

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09 Jan 2019

Theological Education – Why?

Theology “Then and Now” More than four years ago, I published my first essay on Conciliar Post. It laid out what I consider to be the first principles of theological reasoning, but it also noted that—like all of us—I am still “on the way.” I stand behind these principles: the centrality of Christ, the contingency of created order, the need for grace, and the soul’s ascent to God. I also stand behind the fact that

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26 Nov 2018

The Florida Project [Review]

Note: This review does not spoil key plot points. The Florida Project was the best film of 2017. I have been waiting for some time to write my review; the gravity of this film’s message demanded both multiple viewings and careful reflection. I can now say that Sean Baker has put together a magnificent and enduring work of art. The Florida Project is a gritty take on the elusivity and hollowness of the American dream.

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31 Oct 2018

Squirrels and Symbols

There is an inherent order to creation that becomes apparent when we slow down, set aside results-driven frameworks, and simply observe. For instance, a student of mine recently shared that the Iroquois people claimed to have been taught maple syrup extraction “by the squirrel.” While many dismissed this story as useless babble, a 1992 study observed red squirrels systematically tapping maple syrup via “chisel-like grooves.” It represents a profound failure of imagination that we tend

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20 Oct 2018

Dialogue on Church History and Tradition

Over the past few years, Timon and myself (Ben Winter) have engaged in fruitful discussion—via the “comments” section on Conciliar Post—about church history and the authority of tradition. Recently, Timon stated that many of the questions we worked through “are very common . . .from both Catholic friends and fellow protestants.” In light of that, we have decided to reprise our debate. Our goal is to further expand ecumenical dialogue, while learning something new in

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03 Oct 2018

A Life Without Suffering

A life without suffering is no life at all. Like many of a certain age here in America, my childhood was perfect. I had everything I could ask for—from a supportive family to a consistent stream of toys, video games, and collectibles to keep me occupied. I had money of my own to spend (mostly from generous relatives) and an excess of unearned confidence derived from the many who praised my “talents.” When I think

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06 Sep 2018

The Siberian and the Statue

Parable There once lived an early modern Siberian man who loved nothing more in life than to mold statues. In fact, his whole soul was fulfilled to the utmost by the process of his labor and the results of his art: beautiful, good statues of virtuous humans. He too was a virtuous man, possessing habits that facilitated his happiness. As such, he was looked upon by his community as honorable. One day, the man was

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08 Aug 2018

We Have A Secret

We have a secret   A secret that energizes us A secret that enables us A secret that brings us joy   That secret is: God is A community of divine Persons   One in love One in purpose Drawing all to Beauty   All is chaos outside this Order All is in fluctuation outside this Stability All is changing outside this Being   We have a secret   It connects us It creates a

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