23 Dec 2020

Merry Christmas

C.S. Lewis once wrote that the Feast of the Incarnation is the “grand miracle” of the Christian faith, the central chapter on which the whole Biblical plot turns. Christmas, says Lewis, is not a means to an end. It’s not merely a way of getting us to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Christmas has unique revelatory power. Christmas discloses the heart of God. The sadness and fear we have experienced this year can do nothing

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20 Dec 2020

Advent Devotionals – Week Four

Saturday, December 19th and Sunday, December 20th Monday, December 21st Tuesday, December 22nd Wednesday, December 23rd Thursday, December 24th

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13 Dec 2020

Advent Devotionals – Week Three

Saturday, December 12th and Sunday, December 13th Monday, December 14th Tuesday, December 15th Wednesday, December 16th Thursday, December 17th Friday, December 18th  

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09 Dec 2020

Tell Me the Same Old Story

I once received an e-mail from a former parishioner. Catherine had been a star student in my youth group, and she was now enrolled in a fine Roman Catholic liberal arts college. I was delighted to hear from her, but alas, she wasn’t writing to catch up. She was having a crisis of faith, and she needed to talk. Her letter painted a candid picture of how her faith had run aground. She had taken

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07 Dec 2020

Book Review: “American Awakening: Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of Our Time”

New theologies are on the rise in contemporary America. As seemingly far back as 2015, Columbia University professor John McWhorter described the emerging concept of “antiracism” as “a new and increasingly dominant religion. It is what we worship, as sincerely and fervently as many worship God and Jesus and, among most Blue State Americans, more so.” In 2017, journalist Andrew Sullivan wondered openly, “Is Intersectionality a Religion?” And earlier this year, Tara Isabella Burton argued

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29 Nov 2020

Advent Devotionals – Week One

Advent is about anticipation. As a young child might anxiously await the riches of opening presents on Christmas morning, so the Church awaits the coming of the Lord, which it understands to be the riches of God’s grace breaking forth into human history to save us. Each year, in the prayers, Scripture readings, and liturgy of Advent, the Church invites all of us to wait patiently and journey faithfully together through dark and uncertain times

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23 Nov 2020

Surprises in the History of Early Pentecostalism in Brazil

I remember, several years ago, learning for the first time about the demographic shifts in world Christianity that took place over the course of the 20th century. Pie charts from the Pew Research Forum compared the “Regional Distribution of Christians” in 1910 with the distribution a century later in 2010.[1] The 1910 chart showed about 96% of the world’s Christians to be located in Europe or the Americas, while the 2010 chart showed significant Christian

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20 Nov 2020

Infinite Human Desire: The Afterlife of The Good Place as Affirmation of Christian Hope

Image: The Good Place promotional material, Fair Use. Since I’m usually around a year behind popular culture (if not more), I only recently watched the final season of The Good Place. I’ll go ahead and show my hand immediately—I love the show and equally loved the final season. Often described by Marc Evan Jackson—the actor who plays Shawn on the show and the host of The Good Place The Podcast—as the smartest, while simultaneously dumbest,

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18 Nov 2020

Happiness, Death, Anxiety, Resurrection – Part III: Ecclesiastes

In my first and second posts in this brief series, I raised the classical question of ethics and walked through at least part of Plato’s and Aristotle’s answers. While gleaning much from them, I argued that neither help us much in our encounter with death. I need to be clear on this point. I am not critiquing them for not giving a full or adequate account of the afterlife. Although I suppose an argument like

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13 Nov 2020

Double Polarity: Baptism, Eschatology, and the Christian Life

One of the principal debates between Catholics and Protestants in the Reformation pertained to the issue of whether Christ’s righteousness is imputed or imparted to the Christian. The Protestant doctrine of imputation occurs within a legal framework: sinful humanity cannot meet the demand of God’s perfect righteousness. In becoming Incarnate and dying on the cross, Jesus does what humans could not do by satisfying that demand. Imputation, then, is the “legal (or forensic) crediting of

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11 Nov 2020

Why We Need Centering Prayer

Just two years ago, Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O. died at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA. Prior to his passing, he had lived at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Snowmass, CO, where he left a rich legacy of contemplative teaching and interfaith dialogue. Although his death was not widely reported, Fr. Keating’s passing marked the temporal close of a unique monastic ministry, one reflective of both the energy of post-Vatican II Catholicism and the meditative turn

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09 Nov 2020

Book Review: “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self”

The acclaimed novelist and essayist David Foster Wallace begins perhaps his most famous essay, This Is Water, with a memorable question: how would one fish describe to another the meaning of water? To a fish, water is so ubiquitous, so constitutive of everyday experience, that the question would be almost unintelligible. What, after all, would “not-water” even be? To a fish, water is the absolute horizon of what is realistically conceivable; it is, in the

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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 Oct 2020

Review: Hear Us Emmanuel: Another Call for Racial Reconciliation, Representation, and Unity in the Church

Hear Us, Emmanuel: Another Call for Racial Reconciliation, Representation, and Unity in the Church (Doug Serven, ed.) is a collection of essays that addresses a variety of issues regarding racial inequality and the church in the United States. The compilation, a follow-up to Heal Us Emmanuel: A Call for Racial Reconciliation, Representation, and Unity in the Church (2016), is the attempt of a particular denomination (Presbyterian Church in America) to address these issues specifically within

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24 Oct 2020

Aquinas, Protestants, and the Book I Wish Was Read More

For we think of a thing, in one sense, when we think of the word that signifies it, and in another sense, when we understand the very thing itself. -Anselm, Proslogion, IV Problems with Comparative Studies I’ve noted in another post the resurgence of interest in Thomas Aquinas and Thomism among Protestants. One ‘type’ or genre of writing that is popular in this resurgence is what I’ll call a comparative approach. This approach asks what Thomas (or

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14 Oct 2020

Of Gnosis and Seagulls

The first time I read Richard Bach’s beloved novella, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I was charmed. This slim volume tells the tale of a young seagull, Jonathan, and his quest to master both the art of flying and the depths of self. On the surface, there’s much to enjoy. The story has a forthright, fable-like quality. The themes of youthful idealism, self-discovery, and growing wise are compelling and relatable. Even the grainy, black-and-white photos of seagulls

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12 Oct 2020

Out of Libertarianism

It doesn’t take much political acumen to see that the sun of libertarianism is setting. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into the gears of globalization and exposed the weaknesses of supply chains outsourced to foreign states. Every day, the nightly news recounts the latest politically-charged interventions by Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon, and the backlash from both Democrats and Republicans alike. (A swarm of antitrust hawks is circling overhead.) The culture wars

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09 Oct 2020

Can I Get a Hero?

I know the internet needs another article about the changes in the television industry like I need another recipe for slow-cooker chicken chili, but hear me out. Like many cord-cutting millennials, my husband and I have spent the last three years making our way through the critically acclaimed “prestige TV” of the last decade. This loosely defined (and somewhat pretentious) term refers to the serious, cinematic, dark, and novelistic television. Many claim that The Sopranos

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07 Oct 2020

Happiness, Death, Anxiety, Resurrection – Part II: Aristotle

In my first post, I noted that—to the question of what whole way of life makes for the most worthwhile life—Plato proposed it must be the just life; the life of the one internally ordered toward the Good. In this post, I’ll consider briefly Aristotle’s musings on the same question. As stated in part I, the purpose of this is not so much historical survey or a ‘rereading’ of these thinkers and their respective positions.

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05 Oct 2020

The History Wars

In 2013, a headline at The Guardian by Tristram Hunt read, “History is where the great battles of public life are now being fought.” Hunt likely had no idea how prescient this was. More specifically, the great contemporary battles are over historical or cultural memory. That is to say, battles over our collective identity, values, and aspirations—a form of cultural sparring, it must be said, that can only emerge in a society that has been

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