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
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
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
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).
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:
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
A friend and I recently conversed about possible positive appropriations of “open theism.”1 While initially ill-at-ease with the label, I soon began to understand why this movement has been so influential. In an effort to learn more, I read chapter three of The Openness of God (a seminal text for open theism). What follows is my critique. Metaphysics and Personhood Throughout this chapter, Pinnock goes out of his way to situate “metaphysics” in opposition to
The 2016 film Me Before You stars Emilia Clarke as an awkward young woman who needs employment to help support her poor working class family. After losing her job at a local bakery, she applies to become a caretaker for the adult son of a wealthy family. The son, played by Sam Claflin, was an active and successful young man before being injured in a motorcycle accident that left him as a quadriplegic. The two
Signs. Wonders. Inbreakings of the divine into the mundane. Transcendence foisting itself upon the natural order of things. Is this what Christians are talking about when we describe miracles? People often think of miracles and magic as synonymous. From this standpoint, miracles rupture the fabric of reality—poking holes in a static backdrop of predictable causes and effects. But reality is not as static or predictable as we assume. In his book Historical Consciousness, John Lukacs
Considered generally, doubt is beneficial to human beings. While we all begin life in a state of ignorance—relying upon the care and concern of others to survive—too many of us eventually enter a state of arrogance. Neither position is desirable, but these are the two ends of the spectrum of knowledge spectrum toward which we gravitate. Christians who see pride as the root of all sin are inclined to value doubt when it counteracts pride.
Throughout church history, the question, “Can we be certain of our salvation?,” has troubled many believers. This question naturally arises because different Christian traditions have divergent teachings on the nature of salvation itself. How one is saved and whether or not this salvation can be subsequently lost are the subject of much discussion between believers. One noteworthy response to these questions from church history was the development of the so-called “Protestant work ethic.” This idea
“The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will
To immanence, to the heart, Christ is redundant and all things are one. To eminence, to the mind, Christ touches only the top, skims off only the top, as it were, the souls of men. -Annie Dillard, Holy The Firm, (Harper & Row: New York, 1977), 80. Is it possible to live in this tension? Can humans achieve the “peace that passes understanding” (John 14:27, Phil 4:6-7) in a world that appears increasingly chaotic and