07 Aug 2020

What’s Worse Than the Devil You Know?

One of my favorite movie characters is Gus Portokalos, the patriarch in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Gus’s defining characteristic is his extreme devotion to his homeland, which is summed up in his famous line: “There are two kinds of people in this world: Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek.” I love this joke because it perfectly encapsulates one of the essential characteristics of the human condition: we view the world as

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24 Jul 2020

We Need to Talk About White Jesus

Image Source: Unilad, Emma Rosemurgey, https://www.unilad.co.uk/life/expert-says-this-is-what-jesus-would-have-actually-looked-like/  The American debate regarding White Jesus goes back at least to W.E.B. Du Bois,1 and surely further back to the founding of the Invisible Institution—the secret church of enslaved Black people.2 Yet, it has become increasingly pronounced now that protestors are forcing America to confront its racist past. Particular occurrences have heightened this debate, for example controversial activist Shaun King tweeting that “statues of the white European they claim

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01 Jul 2020

Trinity Brings Unity: Hope for a Divided World

Not long ago, my parish was offering the Prayers of the People as part of our Sunday liturgy. Worshippers were free to raise their own voices and add their personal petitions to those of the Book of Common Prayer. As we did so, two seemingly different prayers arose from our midst. One prayer was for the protection of police officers and first responders. Another was for the protection of protesters and all those seeking justice

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15 Jun 2020

Whose Side Are You On?

America is at war. Worldviews are clashing and the culture is divided. The rift penetrates even Christianity. Last week, Archbishop Wilton Gregory spoke out against recent actions of President Trump. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò then wrote a letter in support of President Trump. The left sees God on the side of justice, equality, systemic change, liberation, and progress. The right sees God on the side of law, order, hard work, family, morality, and traditional values.

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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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25 Mar 2019

On Washing, Wiping, and the Depth of Glory

Let me begin with a warning for the reader: My purpose in this post is to praise the depth of divine condescension in a way that eschews politeness. And in so doing, I’m going to talk about poop. You have been warned. My four-year-old is now daytime potty trained. This is a huge accomplishment for him and a great relief to his father and mother. Increasingly, he doesn’t even need help finishing up in the

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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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14 Dec 2018

The Splendor of Light

If I may approach the subject of sacred music without diving into the worship wars, a recent time of personal devotion reminded me of one of the aspects of worship music I particularly appreciate. That is, songs which tickle my brain, allowing me to continue pondering God’s nature after the music has stopped, the service is over, and I am back into the grind of the everyday week. One such song is the hymn Immortal

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04 Sep 2018

John Muir and Biblical Literacy

John Muir’s A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf chronicles his journey, oftentimes on foot, from Indiana to Florida and finally to Cuba. His adventure begins on September 1, 1867 when he departs Indianapolis by train for Jeffersonville, Indiana on the banks of the Ohio River. The next day he crosses the Ohio River and begins walking south from Louisville with minimal provisions and an interest in collecting local plants. In his journal, Muir says, “I

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14 May 2018

Theology, Sanctity, and the Academy

It could be said that, throughout history and even now in the “less enlightened” parts of the world, the cults of the Saints drive not only the practice of Christianity but also speculation (in the older, more revered sense of the term) about Christianity itself. That is, hagiography as such – the vitae Sanctorum – is not a strange collection of bygone myths (in the newer, less revered sense of the term), but the pulse

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30 Apr 2018

The Significance of Lions

For my father’s birthday, I made him a set of bookends that featured the silhouette of a lion. I chose to design the bookends in this fashion because a lion seemed to fit with how I view my father. This reasoning may appear natural to some, and odd to others. Those who deem it odd are probably the more observant. Why should a silhouette of a lion have any connection with my completely human father?

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04 Apr 2018

Is Doubt A Good Thing?

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.

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05 Mar 2018

“Carrying the Cross” in Lent

“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

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21 Feb 2018

Douthat, Paradox, and Dialectic

When it comes to podcasts on religion and public life, Tyler Cowen of the Mercatus Center’s podcast has some rare gems. While most popular politically-charged podcasts are content to frame questions in secular terms, Cowen—an atheist—has a remarkable ability tease out which religious presuppositions are motivating his guests, including some very fine distinctions on points of intra-religious debate. So when the conservative Catholic New York Times columnist Ross Douthat appeared on his show a couple

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06 Feb 2018

Holy the Firm

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

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22 Dec 2017

Advent Euphemisms and the Assault on Language

The commercialization of Christmas is hardly news. Proclaiming a so-called “War on Christmas” is not enough for some, who ante up their virtue-signaling and cultural critique into announcing a “War on Advent.” In 2012, theologian Diana Butler Bass argued, specifically against Fox News, that the shopping frenzy before Christmas degraded Christ’s Nativity more than a cultural shift away from well-wishing “Merry Christmas” toward a more general “Happy Holidays.”  Father Bill Olnhausen, a retired Orthodox pastor,

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20 Dec 2017

R.C. Sproul – A Former Protestant’s Gratitude

When I heard of R.C. Sproul’s death, my first impulse was to pray for his family and–since I am no longer Protestant but Catholic–for him. My second was to turn to my mother and say, “R.C. Sproul died two days ago.” Death has a strange, self-assured touch. Everything stops in its tracks, but the fact of it won’t register. Not truly a shock, it is more a suspension, a cessation of movement in the vicinity

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06 Dec 2017

Advent

Advent Heavy lay the snow the last warm breath just lingering inside our gloves next to fatigue it slowed and chilled me and my brothers toying with a seam at winter’s hem until the cold was far too much we stumbled home and stood like living clouds of steam our thrown scarves garlands for the railing and the chairs Mother I even began to feel afraid when the last light topped its arc those slender

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25 Oct 2017

Images of the Shroud

Images of the Shroud I stay up late at night searching for high-resolution images of the Shroud of Turin weighing the evidence and different theories. I can see the blood on his arms, ringing round the bicep and shoulders, running like tattoos, the wound on the hand, and those on the feet, ribcage, and brow. They trace a body on the cloth, the relic of a crux connecting earth to heaven, there to issue blood

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23 Oct 2017

Metaphysics, Christ, and Creation

This article is based on notes from a lecture delivered by Rowan Williams at Saint Louis University on 7 March, 2017. Metaphysics and God’s Activity Austin Farrer was possibly the greatest Anglican theologian of our time. In a 1948 series of lectures (The Glass of Vision), he brought together philosophy, devotion, and Scriptural exegesis in a remarkably beautiful way. It was something of a theological watershed. In these lectures, Farrer builds on his major work Finite

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