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Showing posts from 2016

I Found My Keys

After not finding them for nearly an hour. Bob Denver ("Gilligan") died, as well as Debbie Reynolds, (Singing In The Rain) mourning her daughter Carrie Fisher who died, as I'm sure you heard. Every day is a mix of triumph and tragedy, with mostly tragedy, or so it seems. But I found my keys. I told a friend yesterday that the transient pleasures of this life will never be enough, and that's surely true, no? We're crying more as a culture, because we can't hide the emptiness anymore. It might be mawkish and shallow, but it's a start. And I found my keys. My favorite coat now is a gift from a friend, and it belonged to his cousin, who died suddenly. I only know of him from a few stories. There is likely nothing I could say to understand what he was like. How do you summarize a life? But I bet he'd be glad I found my keys. And of course it's a metaphor; you really shouldn't leave home without your keys. You can't have thieves break

On Celebrity Deaths

I do suppose there is something to be said for celebrity worship being the tendency of a decadent and dying society. You'll get no shortage of pieces making that point, and there's truth there. But before we choke on our moralistic alleged detachment, we may consider a few things. These are real people, actually made and loved by God. No matter what they've done, it's still true. The flip side of worship is actually envy. People seem to think that because they have money and fame, we are entitled to say whatever we like, to mock and demean them for things we don't like. There must be a great love of money or self, in order to accept this. In another way, we overlook the possibility technology affords to expand friendship. I never met Dale Earnhardt or Robin Williams. But their talent and nearness through the gift of technology creates a bond of friendship, however small, that requires acknowledgment. I recall that Dr. Alan Noble wrote about the difficulty many

George Michael, 1963-2016

I'm probably not anywhere close to the biggest George Michael fan, but his music was in my ears when I started to listen to music. I have appreciated so many songs, and some especially so, that I do feel I have lost a friend. I will never forget seeing the footage of him standing next to Elton John and I think Sting, as they sang "The Lord Is My Shepherd" at the funeral for Diana, Princess of Wales. As incongruous as it may have seemed to see two of Britain's gay icons in that moment, it was far from unwelcome. What can I say? I really believe I could see underneath all the burdens weighing him down. His troubles aren't hard to find. But I wish we'd met. He'd have at least one person who didn't want anything from him. It does console me to hear the stories of his great but unheralded generosity, whether a college student who got a tip worth thousands of dollars to pay a debt, or kids with cancer. I know natural virtue is just that, but who knows?

Some Of What You Call "Political Correctness" Is Actually Necessary

One of the grave things about the state of our discourse is a high amount of reactivity and emotivism. By the two terms I mean a high likelihood of emotional decisions. Very few people are deciding issues or voting choices via a reasoning process. Another description could be used: tribalism. In my opinion, most of what is described as being "un-PC" or "telling it like it is" is really just confirming already-held beliefs, and the fallacy of "poisoning the well." If you can convince yourself that the other side isn't worth hearing out--say for example, posting the sarcastic hashtag "#tolerance" alongside articles of progressives being unreasonable--you don't have to make an argument that holds any water. The cycle continues. Something big is lost, in the rush to win the argument that is not an argument: the space to hear each other. If you have an argument for the minimum wage, or nuclear disarmament, I definitely want to hear it, eve

Feel Free To Bring Me A Plain Red Cup (It's Not Christmas Yet)

Most people who get upset about wars on Christmas and such don't really fully celebrate Christmas. Christmas itself lasts 8 days, and the season lasts until Epiphany (typically January 6). Also, if you don't actually attend Mass on Christmas, you haven't really kept Christ in Christmas, at least not fully. I guess I could get upset that a bunch of secular types want us all to say "Happy Holidays" instead. But the thing is, "Holidays" is short for, "holy days," and I can think of nothing better than sanctifying particular days to annoy those stodgy, heretical Puritans. Yes, I went there. You'll live. If I'm being completely honest, I don't really mind other people's religious holidays, either, unless they happen to celebrate by doing evil. To actually believe in Jesus, and to further believe that our world should be different because of Him is so radical that it seems pointless to fret that some greater past has been lost. To

Infection Of Doom, Day 14

So that's been happening. It's mostly in my ears now. I can hear two things: Jack, and Squat. I had an antibiotic, but I had some unfortunate and inopportune side effects, [Are side effects ever opportune?--ed.] so I stopped. Yes, I know that's bad. But some effects are merely unpleasant; others, in context, prevent you from doing anything. In other news, "Mittens" didn't get the Secretary of State job; it's probably for the best, sir. At least you won't be tainted. Too harsh? I think not. But who knows? Everything may work out. The lesson for the week is this: peace at the cost of the truth is not peace at all.

Steadfast Love

This is the entire theme of the Bible. There are others, of course, but this is the heart. God is  steadfast love. There are many people who worry that talking about how God is Love waters down religion. I suppose that is a valid concern. But when we realize that we have not attained what we hope for, then we know the cost of failing to tell the truth about sin. Sin keeps us from loving communion with God forever. That's what we hope for. If we don't tell someone about something that is holding them back from the greatest gift they could ever receive, do we really love them? I think some people have a vision of what they want the Church to be and do, so they listen to people who "tell it like it is" and they try to start a culture war in the Church; who said what to whom, who's "soft," "faithful," et cetera. In short, a huge waste of time. There appears to be others who personally get stuck where they are. They might even make a to-do about

Advent: Covenant Theology On Steroids

Covenant theology is the study of how God has chosen to relate to humanity, both before our fall, and after. God makes covenants--sacred binding agreements detailing what God promises to do, and what promises He expects his people to keep. Through all the history of salvation in the Old Testament, it has not been a story of success on our part at all. But God has chosen to renew those covenants throughout the story, forgiving and blessing His people continually, and repeating the promise of a Savior and King who would finally deliver them from sin, once for all. There are two major bookends to the story of Israel in the Old Testament: the Exodus from Egypt, and the Babylonian Exile. The first showed God's power of deliverance, and the second showed the wages of Israel's breaking of the covenant. In short, death. The context of the New Testament when you start is God's people in exile, waiting for deliverance. That's why in one place it says a holy person was "w

A Different World

I was watching Rachael Ray this morning. She's a celebrity chef. She still cooks on her show, but you can tell she is trying to branch out. Anyway, she had a financial planner on to give advice. The planner asked an audience member she was helping about expenses. The young woman offered that she was engaged. As the planner began describing one of her savings plans, she said, "You can keep this in your room, you and your fiancé." An innocuous comment about a money jar got me thinking. I live in a subculture where unmarried people don't live together. They don't have sex, unless they mess up. Think about this for a second: it's not even about mercy and compassion; people like you and me mess up all the time. But the whole point of naming sin is to say that sin is part of a culture, a way of being, that we don't want. If you are one of those people who fears being "judgmental," ask yourself if you are witness to a behavior that you would accept

Another Cross-Examination

I learned long ago that you had better bring the goods, if you are going to argue with Bryan Cross. Actually, I hope he has a good spiritual director, because I just assume I'm wrong, at this point, and it may not help in his cultivation of the virtue of humility! In general though, have you noticed how little actual argument is in the public square? Once you realize it, that data point may be distressing. I believe that our lack of reason is the presenting problem in public discourse. One could argue that the common good is the beating heart of the social doctrine. Any philosophy which denies that the common good even exists is incompatible with the Catholic social doctrine. It doesn't help some people to tell them the Church is our mother, because they don't listen to their mothers, anyway. They react as though the Church said, "I don't want you hanging around with Tommy Pandolfo from down the street! He's always in trouble!" "OK, Ma! I'

The Late Mass

Father was late. After we pray the Angelus, we have five minutes before Mass actually starts. The silence grew. I thought back to last year, when we had a priest who didn't come at all. We ended up having a Communion service that day. If you believe that they're the same, you are mistaken. When we heard that it was an emergency call at the hospital, well, that's the life of a Catholic priest. Could have been Last Rites; could've been anything. No one seemed to mind. When he said, "Francis, our Pope" during the prayers, I was overcome with a great affection for the Holy Father. It's not the first time. I doubt it'll be the last. It is an affection deeper than the news cycle; I have never felt such an affection for the President of the United States, for example. Unless and until you live within the household of the Catholic Church, you can't understand. It's the feast day of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne. She must pray for me a lot, because

Early Genesis, Continued

Why does the story of the creation of humanity happen twice? Well, I mentioned that one of the purposes in these early chapters is to distinguish God from His creation. The language of chapter 1 has been called, "elevated prose." It's not poetry, but it isn't historical narrative, either. Moses uses "elohim" as the word for God early on, a singular object with a plural ending. To add to the intrigue, 1:26 says, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." You can bet the Church fathers didn't miss that one! They said it was our first hints of the Blessed Trinity. After we read about the creation of Adam and Eve in chapter 2, the word for God changes, from "elohim" to "YHWH". We'll just call this "the Name." When Moses asks God what His name is, God says the Name. Why the change? I think one excellent reason is that "elohim" emphasizes God as the Lord of all creation, while "YHWH" em

I Like Stephen Colbert

I've got a good friend who watches The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. You may recall that he took over for David Letterman as the host. Colbert (pronounced like 'cole-BEAR') got his way to fame as a "correspondent" on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. All these people are liberals. Fair enough. I still think Jimmy Fallon (The Tonight Show) is the best late-night host. Jimmy doesn't need famous people to make his show work. He's funny, he's got musical talent, and he has this gift for nurturing nostalgia without sacrificing "cool" that people my age and slightly older (he's 40) seem to want. Actually, I think he makes famous people feel normal, and normal people feel famous. I digress. But I've watched a lot of Colbert lately, and I must admit that his monologue the night after the election was great. I understand how liberals feel this time. I don't share this disdain conservatives have right now for ordinary liberals who are

Happy Birthday, Mom

61 years ago today, Darla Dee Thompson was born. Because of this, you are reading this post, and this blog in general. I won't belabor things with details I don't remember, but I don't know a tougher, more sacrificial person, besides Our Lord. (And Our Lady) That's pretty good company. You become aware that nothing lasts forever on this side of Heaven, and tragedy will teach you even faster to say what needs saying, so here it is: I love you, Mom. Anything good in me is a gift that is partly yours. Thanks for teaching me that serving others and sharing life with them is how to truly live. Here's hoping we get a little break from tough times, so we can appreciate everything.

Thoughts On The Early Chapters Of Genesis

As I read Genesis 1-3, there are 3 main things that stick out: Firstly, God alone is Creator, and He is distinct from that which he has created. It was a point of emphasis for Moses, (and the Lord God) because he knew that the surrounding cultures worshiped "gods" in such a way that creation and deity weren't so distinct. Secondly, that mankind and creation were both created good, and in some sense, both remain good. Thirdly, it is proper to worship God, and now, living with the reality of sin, both original and personal, we know that forgiveness must be part of the story, our journey back to life with God. Let me talk about these in reverse order. Adam and Eve both worshiped God before the Fall. It will always be right to do so, and we know this because our pictures of Heaven from later in the Scriptures tell us this. After our first parents sinned, the Scriptures here say they heard the Lord walking in the garden and hid themselves! We have to be careful here, because

Not So Usual

I want to move on from politics. I really do. We'll see if it happens. I still hold the same views about Trump, Trumpism, and the GOP. (I hold none in high esteem, in case you hadn't noticed.) Perhaps I should have joined the Democrats the night of the Ohio primary; I would love to hear how I'm actually responsible for the deaths of little children, simply because I want nothing to do with the president-elect. The whole matter does prove one thing: A sizable chunk of the American people don't care what the Left thinks about anything. I'm in this weird place where I agree with pretty much every criticism of Trump from Clinton and the Democrats, but I don't want to live in the world that they imagine. I don't want to live in the world that they imagine. So we'll be living in it anyway, since Trump is pretty much them. He's a product of the culture the libertines created. You didn't actually believe anything he said, did you? That's nice

Ain't No Shame In It

I have taken my title from Will Smith's remake of "Just The Two Of Us." This particular version has Will Smith encouraging his oldest son Tre, and giving him advice. This song gets me every time. But that's not why we are here. The full quote is, "And you can cry/Ain't no shame in it." Why are we mocking people upset about the election? I'm upset about the election. I had no overly fond preference for either one, yet even so... Have you ever poured your heart into something, with everything you are, and it fails? It's tough. That doesn't even cover it. But that's what people are feeling, at least part of it. You could say that people shouldn't put so much of themselves into a finite thing, but for one, that's easy for some of you to say, and we forget in our cynicism that politics is actually important. I will thank God if the new president is not an unmitigated disaster. I also won't be either surprised or sad if he

Waiting For A Star To Fall

I heard this 80's tune last night. I still like it, if you will forgive me, but it does go on about a minute too long. The eighties, when any lyrical absurdity is forgivable, as long as you have a synthesizer. Synth covers a multitude of sins. But the thing I love about the '80s that no one gets anymore is, even the most ridiculous songs had a sheen, a chorus, something to say, "You'll tell everyone you hate this song, but you are lying." So here you go . It's OK, you don't have to thank me. [We could get the Schmitz family to do an '80s album, and call it, "Schmitz Schmaltz"! Genius!--ed.] Oh, dear.

Post-Election Sadness

I'm sad today, because I was Never Trump, and I really believed in it. I still do. Things which never should have taken place are now normalized; winning makes for short memories. I want nothing to do with religious bigotry, ethnic stereotyping, draconian immigration policies, the mainstreaming of sexual violence, and so forth, and so on. And the thing is, because the Left used the same words, told the same story--and on account of their arrogance and hypocrisy were utterly eviscerated--some people think we don't need to talk about these things, that they are fictions. Whether the people who hold this view are swept up in a populist fervor, or they are just sick of hearing it from what they regard as the usual suspects, I feel compelled to say that they are not fictions or lies. I'm sad because this outrage of a campaign has been vindicated. I'm outraged that none of this scandal has been called to account, and won't be, by any human, as far as I can tell. It mi

The Elephant In The Room

I would like to think I am an elitist in the best sense: I am highly educated, sensitive to the concerns of the marginalized, deeply suspicious of cheerleading for ideologies at the expense of individuals, families, communities, and nations. I value decorum, respect, and constructive debate. I'm a secret peacenik and believer in international institutions. I have never felt so alienated from the Republican Party as I do today. I didn't vote for Hillary Clinton. If you can't get me, you can't win. The reason is abortion. Democrats are extremists on abortion. It's not the only reason you lost, or maybe it is. But it's wrong, and now it's impractical to defend it for political reasons. This is free advice: give it up. Let your pro-life members out of the shadows to speak the truth. Maybe even nominate a defender of life, from conception to natural death! Just a thought.

You Can't Blame Me

I abstained from the presidential vote. Missouri leans Republican, mind you, for president. If indeed Mr. Trump wins here by some 15 points, it indicates to me that Missouri has lost its bellwether status, and frankly, that the voters here have lost their minds. Which is not to say that I welcome a Clinton victory here, or in the nation as a whole. It is absolutely to say that for all their faults real and imagined, we are unworthy of George W. Bush, his father George Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney,  Ronald Reagan,  Dwight Eisenhower, and all the rest up to this point. We have failed them. We have failed our children. We have failed our fellow citizens, and the world. No, I don't think it's overstated. One further thing: there are those who would dismiss these words as sentiment or virtue signaling, as some are calling it. My only reply is that it is in fact those who have deadened themselves to virtue who cannot recognize its opposite. I will not go on as though the game i

I Bind Unto Myself Today

We Catholics pray to all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. Frankly, besides that, we pray to a lot of people. But I never thought I would have to defend the licitness of praying to Jesus, or to the Holy Spirit. The argument went like this: Should we pray to Jesus alone? A: No. Prayers should be directed to God alone. The unstated premise of this argument is that Jesus isn't God. Friends, Christians, if you ever get to, "Jesus is not God," start over. I beg you. And people wonder why I sought full communion with the Catholic Church.

Waiting Their Whole Lives

Generations lived and died, waiting for the Cubs to win the championship of baseball. My Cardinals have won it 11 times since 1908. Think about that. And now, all the waiting is over. I live and die with every pitch, so I get it. Then again, I never could. Winning is tradition in St. Louis. A season without a playoff appearance (like this last one) is a total loss, and it'll be going on 6 years since the last championship. The natives are getting restless, if you can believe that. I'm sorry. I'm sorry to all the beleaguered fanbases out there. Winning does nothing, if not breed the desire for more winning. The fans in Chicago will get arrogant. Fans always do. On the other hand, if you're a die-hard, the other teams in the way always seem bigger and badder than they probably are. Your team is unlucky, behind the 8-ball, opposed by the umpires, et cetera. I have never seen a team in my life that didn't talk about "adversity." Even if they won 103 ga

I Dropped The Bones

I was eating leftover chicken wings. I don't know if you know this, but I try not to throw any actual food in my trash can. Assume the worst in a scenario of bachelorhood, and you might be able to guess why. So, I put the bones on a plate in order to take them downstairs, with the aim of throwing them in the glorious municipal trash can on the corner. They rolled off my lap. On to the floor. Every. Single. One. I would love to tell you that I handled this moment with trademark grace. I would love to tell you that the world is full of sunshine and rainbows, truly. I'd love to tell you lots of things. I cursed with the ferocity I normally reserve for Robert Urich's acting, and untimely double plays. Even on the best of days, I have a long way to go. Maybe "someone dropped the bones" could be code for, "I completely overreacted to the smallest thing." You wouldn't know anyone like that, would you?

Please Feel Free To Be Inspired

There was a TED talk once by a woman in Australia. She had a significant physical disability, and she talked a lot about how she wanted to be treated normally, and how she hated people being patronizing. "I'm just like you!" she said in many different ways. In the "community," as it were, we call it "inspire-a-porn." I get it. I really do. But. Who am I to decide when people are allowed to be inspired? Who am I to decide that I'm not carrying a cross? If other people see it, what reality am I trying to live in, pretending it's not there? There's a guy in our parish who is mentally ill. I think it's schizophrenia. He shakes my hand after Communion every single day. He used to say I was his inspiration, when there was more time. All I have to say is, "Brother, I'll be your inspiration as long as you want." I'm getting over the idolatry of "normal." The pride of it. If you met me, you might realize I'

The Bob Newhart Show

I stayed up late this morning to watch it. I laughed the entire half-hour! No wonder this guy had two sitcoms. Are you kidding? I wish I had that kind of timing. This episode guest starred Rene Auberjonois as a sketchy French psychologist who brings his wife on an exchange trip to the United States. His wife is revealed to be his mistress. Yikes. But nor does he understand US currency, leading to two hilarious exchanges with a snarky cab driver. I'm gonna have to watch this show again.

Called To Communion (Ratzinger) Chapter 1

Prior to the first world war, there had been a dominant liberal hermeneutic for Scriptural interpretation: this "Jesus" was anti-cultic, anti-institutional, and the goal was to embrace the Kingdom, which transcends these especially Old Testament notions of sacrifice, Temple, and people. The war destroyed that consensus. Part of what Ratzinger calls the "moralism" of this view was upended by the savagery of the conflict. The second war deepened the disillusionment. Old ideas die hard, though, and its proponents reformulated this anti-cultic tendency with an eschatological twist. A new angle was that this re-formulated concept meshed easily with ascendant neo-Marxism, and its morality play of oppressed versus oppressor. They could pit the "institutional" Church against the popular Church. Ratzinger says that these views are bad candidates for reality as it is, precisely because they bear the marks of the times in which they were created. We can be resp

What Is It With History, Anyway?

Among faithful Catholics, there is a confidence that Christian history bears out the conviction that the Church of the New Testament, the Church that Christ founded, is the Catholic Church. Consequently, all Christians should be members of the Catholic Church. At the popular level, you might hear someone say, in response to a question about them seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, "I read the Church fathers." It's kind of a quick answer that may not tell one anything at all. And you might be well aware of Protestants who read and know the Church fathers. I believe that one can say there is a theological significance to the passage of time, and to the gradual refinement of the articulation of dogma. The Incarnation and the totality of the paschal mystery means that the world as it was made, and all the people therein, belong again to God through Jesus Christ, by the working of the Holy Spirit. So, it would be reasonable to expect that the same faithfulness

The Continuing Ruminations

I'm actually shocked, shocked (!) that middle-aged (and older) white guys in trucker hats think Trump is obviously the better choice. Of course, this isn't an argument. But the funny thing is, the Democrats have always said we were trying to turn back the clock. Maybe they are right this time. I have to admit that there is a real generational aspect to this whole thing. I'm 36. I couldn't even finish Trump's introductory 3 minute commercial. I get nostalgic about Nintendo games, and Matlock, not about an America that never actually existed. Call it liberal if you want, but I think it's actually pretty patriotic to realize that not everyone got a real slice of the American pie in the "good old days." Tell the truth, make amends, (if possible) and go forward. But there's nothing forward-looking about Trump. There's nothing reflective or self-critical about him. Can you honestly say you feel proud of what he represents? Forget about the Democrats;

Still Don't Disagree With This

Welp. The GOP got itself stuck with Trump. This articulates pretty well my thoughts since last November. I don't agree that Never Trumpers have simply failed to put on their "big-boy" and "big-girl" pants, to just vote for him. Judicial myopia. With a hat-tip to Anderson for some help there. I have never responded to the battle-cry, "Judges!" before now, and I'm not starting now. If I could disregard social issues, (abortion, gay unions/"rights", etc.) I'd vote for Hillary without hesitation.  If you don't live in the thought-world where that might be an option, well, there are no locks on the metaphorical doors; I will leave you to whatever emotivist rage against me you are feeling. The argument goes something like this:  As her e-mails and Goldman Sachs speeches might show, she is a relentlessly triangulating careerist. She's no progressive ideologue. She's tough as nails; that's why we don't like her. She&#

Pray Your Face Off

I don't know any other way to be holy. If you are serving others, let it be a physical prayer. There is no mystery or secret. Prayer is communion with God, and communion with God is detachment from "the world, the flesh, and the devil." I suppose the post is misnamed a bit, because it doesn't have to be vocal prayer. Though of course your face isn't likely to come off, in any case. We feel these existential moments of dread at times, and you have to wonder what would happen if we prayed, instead of distracting ourselves. Let's find out.

With These Our Hells And Our Heavens

We're not all that strong, you know. The merit in life is in the little cracks of life, the moments you don't notice, until they have passed. I do worry, though. I don't recall that many cups of cold water offered in the name of Jesus. In a sense, I want to laugh. To say this life of mine has been characterized by sacrifice is a stretch. And yet, I know the way to the fount of mercy. I know one thing for sure: He is more ready to forgive than we are to ask. As grace gives us the power, then, never let us tire in asking.

The Sound Of Silence

I was recently told, "You will come to appreciate the value of silence." Before God, that is. Everything in our culture wants to distract us, and that makes sense. God speaks in the silences. Our enemy wants to keep us from the joy of being in God's presence, if at all possible. "In the silence of the heart, You speak." Amen.

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 12 (Part Four, Chapter Two)

The seed-bed of the Church's Sacred Tradition is the prayerful reflection upon the Gospels, and the entirety of God's saving message in Christ. Liturgy is not therefore made; it is obeyed. The Romans viewed kneeling as a sign of subservience and weakness, but the Christian message has always viewed it as an ennobling humility; that is, man is dignified and empowered when he acknowledges God's kingship. But neither will the Church abandon the practice of standing, since it is the victorious slain Lamb of God who stands in Heaven, interceding for His brethren. It is through Him that we have access to the Father.

Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You

I heard a priest say that God is more solicitous for our salvation than we are. And yet, some people will continue to believe that a holy striving is somehow contrary to the gospel. On the contrary; if you get an inspiration to pray more, or to read the Scriptures, do it. You may be one of those people who believes God is out to get you. If you fearfully say, "Look what good I did! Please don't hate me!" then you might be one of those legalists everyone is going on about. I don't know many of those, but if you are, you have my sympathy. For the rest of us, a plan that embodies "I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you" is in order. After a while, the fear of Hell is replaced by the disappointment of broken fellowship. Then we are beginning to love as He loves us.

I Will Arise And Go To My Father

If you're anything like me, you forget the main thing. We're weak, you see, and everybody has that One Thing. We all think that everyone would hate us if they knew. Or, fair enough, you have a whole string of reasons to hate yourself. But the One Thing is the sin that makes you think it's all pointless, and you may as well give up. Not everyone's is the same, but everyone has it. Despair is the enemy's favorite trick, because it becomes a feedback loop of failure and shame. If the enemy can make you think you are worthless, you'll stop reaching out to God and others. Faith is a great gift, because it illumines the Way, even when we have gone astray. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. It is fact; it is not conjecture, or sentiment. It has never meant that we have nothing left to reconcile. It does mean that God has taken an unyielding stance of favor toward every single one of us. As we get closer to God, the purity of His fiery love will test o

The Most Holy Rosary, With Vin Scully

I went ahead and bought it, and I'm glad I did. The greatest living baseball announcer just retired after 67 years, but I'm almost certain he would say that this is greater than all those games. I couldn't help but think of my father, whose favorite team was the Dodgers. If he needs my prayers, he has them. Word is that Mr. Scully never misses a Mass at Dodger Stadium. I can believe that. Sometimes the icons are real. Baseball still has heroes, but as with anything else, they may not be the ones you expect.

The Bible, Outlined: Genesis

I am going to make broad outlines of the books of the Bible, for my use, and to assist a project I am working on. I'm going to try to keep them really simple, but as I go, you may see more detailed outlines if it serves. It is good to get a broad picture, and thereby to become personally familiar with the Sacred Scriptures that God has given us. Note: This overall outline will include the seven books of the Old Testament, rejected by Protestants. With that said, here we go: Genesis: "In The Beginning" (Chapter) 1-11: The Primordial History                 12-36: The Patriarchs                 37-50: Joseph Note: Tamar, Interrupted (38)

It Still Looks Like A Hillary Win To Me

Our friend Mitt Romney demonstrated the phenomenon of leading the national polling, but losing the race, because the state polls never shifted. Ironically, Trump partisans are citing national polls as evidence that Trump is winning, or will win. But the states that are toss-ups according to Real Clear Politics would have to break better than 3 out of 4 to Trump for him to win. Not likely. There is nothing real to indicate that Trump is broadly more liked than Romney was. For a bunch of close states to shift all in one direction, there would have to be a strong indicator that Trump is leading the national race. Not only is he not leading national polling in any discernible sense, he's lost ground. States don't shift first; the nation shifts, and then states realize they don't want to miss the party. Debates rarely change the fundamental tenor of a campaign, but they tend to reinforce earlier trends. He shouldn't have to fight for GA, and NC; these are GOP strongholds. Th

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 11 (Part Four, Chapter 1)

Ratzinger says that liturgy and liturgical development retains a connection to the places where God revealed Himself in Christ. The worshipping community was created by the saving action of God; therefore, any attempt to respond "creatively," or with a view toward the community's self-actualization, will end in failure, at best. We might say that Sacred Tradition is the living memory of the People of God, as they meditate on the Scriptures. Therefore, no person has the right to alter the liturgy as he sees fit. Ratzinger writes, "The greatness of the liturgy depends...on its unspontaneity." Adding to his thoughts that Sola Scriptura could not serve a unifying function for the Church, he also writes, "Scripture is Scripture only if it lives within the living subject that is the Church." Liturgical development would have to be the obvious consequence of the lived experience of a living subject. It will be interesting to hear his account of this, go

There Is No Salvation Outside The Catholic Church

It is a great mercy that the possibility exists that those who are not presently in full communion with the Catholic Church may be friends with God, despite their ignorance concerning His Church and the gospel she preaches. Nevertheless, we have to be clear on that. In practical terms, I know more than a few people who were baptized Catholic, and in their terms, "got saved" in some Protestant community, and mistakenly think everything is fine. Firstly, every person is called to the Catholic Church. It's the one that Christ himself established, and he did it for our salvation. Secondly, if you know that the Catholic Church was made necessary for salvation by Jesus Christ, and you leave anyway, you're in danger of Hell itself. DON'T DO THIS. Just don't. For my part, I found my way here, and though it was largely a joyful experience, I can tell you that the Church's exclusive claims made a difference. I should say it more strongly: There is no reason to

I Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Programming

Do you ever just stop and think, "Maybe I have no idea what's going on here"? During Holy Mass, we heard the reading where God kindly tells Job to button his face, and I couldn't help but think that even venturing a guess as to how my life will go is rank presumption. As long as we have breath, we should keep going. Keep looking for God, keep trying to go deeper. We are the reason it hasn't happened to the degree we want. There are people who don't like striving in the spiritual life; they think it's some self-help heresy. But holy striving is fully in the light of who Christ is. It's not from terror, or human weakness. Agree with God about yourself. We cannot change ourselves, but we can allow him to change us.

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 10 (Part Three, Chapter 2)

There has always been an intimate relation between the saving acts of God, and liturgical music; namely, the former gives impetus to the latter. The recognition by Israel that their deliverance from the Egyptians, and the song that resulted was temporary produced the hope that pushed their ecclesial life forward. Although Christian faith possesses more in the form of realized hope, especially in the Eucharist and the other sacraments, hope is still quite vital on this side of the veil. The Holy Spirit produces in the redeemed the songs of Heaven. The ancient Greeks had been aware of the power of music, to either elevate, or to denigrate man. Without going into an extended discussion of sacred music itself, the Christian community had been aware from the earliest days of the potential danger in the art form. Indeed, heresies were transmitted through Greek hymn forms. So, one of the regulating influences for the Church is the biblical story, centered on Christ, the Word, (Logos) the

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 9 (Part Three, Chapter 1)

The main focus of this chapter is on how the Incarnation alters the Judeo-Christian reluctance to display God. (In fairness, it is an abhorrence to the Jewish mind, whose Scriptures from the earliest draw a sharp distinction between the Creator and the created.) But Ratzinger says that synagogue art took a softer line than might be supposed, owing to the theological inclination to make past events present through art. And a large difference going forward lies in what the Incarnation means: it represents God's will to reveal Himself. In Christ, something of the mystery of God is made visible. An icon or image of Christ has three essential elements or reference points: His suffering, death, and resurrection. Any one image may emphasize one element over the others, but none may be denied. The chapter seems to be a return to the earlier insight that everything comes from God and is returning to God. (Exitus-reditus) Paradoxically, we use our senses to transcend them, to be folded i

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 8 (Part Two, Chapter 5)

Everything that lives especially has a time; it lives and dies, according to its purpose. There is a sense in which certain kinds of time pass beyond the control of people. The purpose of the Incarnation, (and thus, the Cross and resurrection) is to re-orient human history and cosmic history around the saving acts of God. Man overcomes the futility of his short life by enfolding it into the "forever" that the victorious risen Christ ushers in. There is no warrant for changing the liturgical calendar based on the seasons in certain parts of the world, for example. It would make the liturgy subject to creation, and not the other way around. Jesus sees no contradiction in coming in the flesh to a particular place and time, but by His work, being the summation of everything. That is a worthy thing to ponder.

Black People, Muslims, Illegal Mexicans? Sounds Like A Good Time

I took the Pew survey on political identification. I'm right in the middle. I didn't know fear of outsiders and people of color was a conservative value. (Actually, it's not.) So there's that. I mean, I guess I did join the Catholic Church. You can't get any more "ethnic" than that. Forgive me, I may be inclined to think the lot of you are unhinged.

Reading Psalm 22

I had the privilege of reading it for the members of our Bible study last night. Verses 27-31 will take your breath away: "All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. Yea, to him shall all the proud of the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and he who cannot keep himself alive. Posterity shall serve him; men shall tell of the LORD to the coming generation, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, that he has wrought it." About 1000 years later, St. Paul wrote something . Jesus, I trust in You!

This Isn't Middle School

There are people rejoicing that somehow Donald Trump has broken the monotony and stability of our political system. Put down your Rand, and your supply of illegal drugs, and come to your senses. You should never rejoice that an intellectual amoeba is within a breath of the presidency, even if the alternative is Hillary Clinton. She may well be uniquely corrupt, but Democrats haven't changed that much. If indeed the judiciary is so far gone that only Trump can save us from doom, it's been a nice country. Not my problem. Even though the executive has accrued much more than symbolic power, the president is a symbol. And he's not a symbol I want representing me. Politics has always been imperfect, but its drama and its theater demonstrate even now that we aspire to things in politics, and through politics. It's one thing to remember that politics is only earthly; it's quite another to go to the gutter, and congratulate yourself for your alleged detachment.

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 7 (Part Two, Chapter Four)

Ratzinger is concerned here to defend eucharistic piety from charges that it is superstitious. Such a charge proceeds from the premises articulated by things said previously: if the focal point is the community, then anything which distracts from the community and its self-awareness is to be abandoned. On the contrary; the community and its purpose is made by the self-gift of the Lord, one which is extended to the unique eucharistic mode. Ratzinger argues that to distinguish the gift from the Person diminishes the magnitude of Him, and what He offers. Though we also recall that reception of Holy Communion is not obligatory on every occasion, he makes a bold argument to the claim that adoration and Communion are opposed: he says that to eat is to adore; it is to accept the covenant it signifies. He argues that the same liturgical primitivism (and an uncritical one, at that) that views the medieval liturgies with suspicion also cannot abide deepening eucharistic piety and architectur

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 6 (Part Two, Chapter Three)

Ratzinger begins this chapter reminding the reader that everything Christians did architecturally served a liturgical purpose; that is, all such decisions are driven by the understanding of what God has revealed, and therefore, the proper response of the faithful is thus determined. God's ubiquity surprisingly affects liturgical posture, in that it doesn't eliminate a kind of spatial awareness, but causes it to be even more centered on the central saving event: the resurrection of Christ. He thus strongly advises the priest face ad orientem, that is, turned with his back to the people, facing east. It has been his opponents, who, while claiming he suffers from an irrational nostalgia, disallow any liturgical development, and chase a kind of liturgical primitivism. He gives one example of the negative impact of the partial truth of the Eucharist as meal: the focal point becomes the community, rather than God, whose saving action called the community into existence.

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 5 (Part Two, Chapter 2)

Even in the Old Testament, the synagogue in the time of the Temple was never simply a place of instruction that was intellectual only; everything that took place evoked the Temple and its worship. Facing toward the east meant toward the Temple in Jerusalem. As they came together to worship, to sacrifice, they were always the people redeemed and set apart by God. Because of God's determination to be present with His people, their place of worship could never be merely functional; the liturgy bore witness to God's saving acts. Therefore, the church building of the New Testament doesn't serve the people meeting, as such. Rather, it serves the liturgy, which is the proper response to what God has done and said. Facing east in the New Testament indicates an expectation of the return of the risen Lord. The "seat of Moses" becomes the bishop's throne, and all draw near to the Holy of Holies, the Eucharist upon the altar.

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 4 (Part Two, Chapter One)

There is an inherent tension between the completed work of Jesus Christ, the action of the liturgy, and the hidden spiritual realities to which the sacramental signs point. Ratzinger reminds us that the liturgy utterly depends upon the death and resurrection of Christ as a past event. But what is still to come in us and in our world depends on him making his priestly work present to us, and us making an offering of ourselves to the Father through Him. The liturgy is not a play-act, but neither is it--as Dr. David Anders might say--a time-travel adventure of a crude sort. Ratzinger asks, "After the tearing of the Temple curtain and the opening up of the heart of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified, do we still need sacred space, sacred time, mediating symbols?" Yes, he says. Answering his own question prior to asking it, Ratzinger says, "The theology of the liturgy is in a special way "symbolic theology," a theology of symbols, which connects us to what

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 3

The biggest challenge to the Temple worship according to Jesus, says Ratzinger, is that the people had lost the awareness that Israel's worship was always marked by insufficiency and impermanence; that is, they knew they were sojourners, both literally and figuratively. The leaders of that time conceived of their worship cyclically, and that it would remain static. Ratzinger points to Leviticus 26, and to the Passover in Exodus 12, as obvious instances when the sacrificial system pointed to something beyond itself, by contrast. It had always been a true insight of all religions that the only proper gift that man could give to God was his own life. The pagan religions had conceived of this literally as human sacrifice. Instead, Jesus cleansed the Temple to prepare for a new age of universality and fulfillment. He would be the Temple, and the priest, and the sacrifice. This new anticipation is joyful, waiting for the victory of the New Jerusalem.

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 2

Ratzinger begins by saying that a false opposition between history and cosmos has often been supposed, and an implicit critique of Christianity is that it is too linear. Acknowledging that the relation between Creator and creation is closer than some people might suppose, he nevertheless points out that God is absolutely distinct from what he has created. Recalling that primitive notions had man at the center of a kind of circle of need between man and the gods, Ratzinger affirms an aspect of such a view: that humanity is meant for union with God. Ratzinger says that a cyclical notion of exitus-reditus ("Everything came from God, and is returning to God") is common in all religions, but Christianity is distinct, in that creation is regarded as an unqualified good. Humanity benefits from the journey back to God in the chance to obtain redemption from sin. Indeed, creation is the theater for the covenant of love between God and man. In fact, creation exists for this purpose.

The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 1

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger asks the question, "What is liturgy?" and having asked it, he considers one possibility: the liturgy as play. There is a great freedom in children's play, he says, and this does capture something about how we properly relate to God. Owing largely to the gravity of the subject matter, he says this is insufficient as an explanation. We should note, however, that when children take on play as a kind of anticipation of future life without its burdens and concerns, it comes the closest to what true liturgy is, and should be. In order to answer the challenge, Ratzinger takes us back to the biblical texts surrounding the Exodus. Freedom of worship is insufficient, because God has commanded that the Israelites go out to serve him in the wilderness. He notes also that the idolatry which broke the covenant was a sort of well-intentioned impatience with the speed at which God was revealing Himself. All true liturgy is a response to what God has revealed

Just Do It

I had a friend last night ask me last night about going to Confession more often. Just do it. There's no mystery there. There are things in life that just need to get started. Once they do, we can take on whatever task it is that seems too big. Of course, I'm giving myself this advice. It's hard, man. Just the thought of some things seems dispiriting. But things not started become regrets when we are old. May we be granted the grace to be bold today. We trust in Your merciful love, O God. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

The Center Will Not Hold: One Convert's View

Fr. Benson wrote a popular novel about the end of time. In the course of it, a character mentions Protestantism, and says, "It is perfectly true that Protestantism is dead. Men do recognize at last that a supernatural Religion involves an absolute authority, and that Private Judgment is nothing else than the beginning of disintegration. And it is also true that since the Catholic Church is the only institution that even claims supernatural authority, with all its merciless logic, she has again the allegiance of practically all Christians who have any supernatural belief left." (Lord of the World, p. 8) Now, one of the features of the aforementioned Noltie Conundrum is that piety eliminates one possibility out of hand: the Holy Spirit cannot speak mutually exclusive truths about the same matter which is not adiaphora. This is so because the Holy Spirit is God, and God cannot lie. So the alternatives remaining are: God protects me infallibly at all times when interpreting t

The Center Will Not Hold: Further Thoughts

Practically, Sola Scriptura goes by another name: ecclesial fallibility. We saw before that a person who has no obligation to believe some ecclesiastical court is correct isn't going to defer in the future, simply because the new authority isn't Catholic. There is no principled position between "me and my Bible" and Catholicism. The purpose of Protestantism is to affirm the individual interpretation of Scripture. The resulting chaos is not an aberration or fluke. The honest Christian begins to question the Protestant methodology precisely when he cannot determine in a principled way the difference between divine revelation, and his own opinion. What we affectionately dub "The Noltie Conundrum" illustrates another aspect of the problem, that is, ascertaining the content of what God has revealed, given mutually exclusive claims about that content, in light of a mutual invocation of the Holy Spirit. It is a Protestant dilemma, on Protestant terms. It will

The Center Will Not Hold

It was actually a political discussion, but as with so much in conservative Protestantism, those lines are dotted, at best. Anyway, Rachel Held Evans came up, and she's the perfect boogeywoman, of course, with her predictable left-of-center political views, and denigration of conservative theological positions. The key point is this: you may not think she's much of a Christian, but she's the perfect Protestant. The alternative to "Scripture Alone" surely is the Church. To turn it around, having rejected the Catholic Church, one cannot be surprised that Rachel calls your bluff in the same way, and on the same terms, as the Reformers did 5 centuries prior. Your makeshift magisteriums--whether alternative structures, or shared interpretations--are even easier to desert than Rome had been. Bad news, kid: the center will not hold. "Conservative" Protestantism is "liberal" Protestantism waiting to happen. It's just a matter of time. Because ult

Trump Doesn't Represent Me

I got pretty emotional in thinking through writing this post. I flat-out don't like Donald Trump; I don't live in the thought world where he is a viable option. This man mocks women, the disabled, and ethnic minorities. He doesn't make sense when he talks, and time reveals that he has no idea what he's actually talking about. He revels in his own ignorance. I actually suffered through the primary debates, and I wondered how someone so manifestly unfit could have made it this far. I guess people have learned to reflexively defend anyone on their side, no matter how absurd the notion. That makes me saddest of all. I'm supposed to say that of course Clinton is worse. Perhaps she is, at that. But I find I don't care. What good has it done, supporting these Republicans, anyway? Abortion goes on, along with the destruction of the family, gay "marriage," rampant gun violence, religious bigotry, and a host of other problems. If my social media feed is any gu

To Kill A Mockingbird

I watched it again last night, and though I had some gnawing sense that the version I had was missing some scenes--Doesn't Cal take the kids to her church?--it still shakes with great moral clarity as a film. Atticus is still the center of the story for me, though of course the innocence of children confronted with ugly human compromise with evil is a major theme. I have half-jokingly said before that I may be the only person whose hero is a fictional character. It remains true, in this case. Though he becomes a victim of the violence against him and his own despair, Tom Robinson is a hero, also. It was absolutely right to feel sorry for Mayella Ewell, even if it became dangerous for Tom to act upon it. Recognizing the danger only accentuates the virtue. Calpurnia showed solidarity as well, teaching the Finch children virtue, and showing them love, even if they will be the beneficiaries of a society that surely hasn't dealt fairly with her. And I never before noticed th

Not That We Loved God

I read this in St. John's first letter. You might know someone that wants to be holy, but the vast majority of the shame they feel is when they fail themselves . The fact of God's loving primacy tells them that the gift of their faith is real. The whole matter then becomes a conversation about what they are afraid of, and that's what needs to happen. The appeal of Calvinism for some people is a cover for mediocrity and self-hatred. If God loves us, we haven't the right to deny it.

I Can Do Simple Math

A small town in Ohio had a steel mill that once employed twelve thousand people. Now the company employs 900. Meanwhile, the makers of epi-pens jacked up the price from about 5 bucks to over 600, because they can. Don't talk to me about socialism; if you don't have an ethics that says these things aren't right, your opinions about the excesses of totalitarianism don't matter much to me. People wonder why Bernie Sanders is so popular. We can argue about the prudence or not of particular actions after we recognize and establish the dignity of every human person. I can recall a young Senator who spoke eloquently of two Americas, one for the rich, and one for the poor, lamenting this reality. He also warned of the dangers of state socialism. His ethics may have been faulty in other areas, but he was right on both counts. If there is anything good in a new nationalism, it must begin with the dignity of the person, and the dignity of work. Though peaceful global relatio

Grace Builds On Nature

Not all of us get to be heroes of a certain sort. We could probably easily find a story of a soldier who sacrificed his life for his brothers-in-arms. That's real virtue and heroism, but absent any other information, it would be natural virtue. To say that it does not merit salvation before God is not to say it is worthless. That is one error. Another error is to say that a person by his or her natural power can please God. That is called "Pelagianism." The Church has always taught rather that salvation consists in friendship with God, and that friendship happens by grace. We can say that grace is the presence and power of God that elevates man above his natural powers, into friendship and likeness with God. The wise people of old say that friends have to share something to be friends. Grace allows us to traverse an infinite distance to be friends with God. This is no small thing, actually. It could be a mercy of God that we Catholics, even of the faithful sort, are as

Know Your Place

I was conversing with a friend in a religious order last night, and I suppose it's all very well to talk about mystical union with Christ, but in fact, if we find ourselves grappling with basic obedience for the balance of our lives, we are like most people. The truth is that I am small. I'm double-minded, and I'm weak. There are moments when the evil looks like the good, and the good like the evil. I do not have a knowledge problem, I have a desire problem. If I had a knowledge problem, I'd be considerably less guilty. Maybe you know someone like that. This is today's great consolation: that in the moments where he makes our sins as though they had never occurred, he pours His love into our hearts, by which our desire for Him also increases. May this love increase more than we ask or imagine. Amen.

There You Go Again

We were invaded by nuns today. Old ones. God love one nun in a wheelchair; she moved over so I could sit in my normal spot. Not that she knew that. This other nun told me her birthday was Sunday, and that she'd be 99. She was so happy to tell me that, as if she'd won the lottery. I found the perfect love. It was right there all the time. Father Details clearly knew the nuns, so he glad-handed the high-rollers for a few minutes. And then the caretakers asked if anyone had to use the bathroom, which of course, everyone did. I did, too. But this train wasn't moving very fast. It was hilarious. If you don't have the patience to be inconvenienced by an army of old nuns, start over. I hope they come back.

I'm Just Here

I don't feel up, I don't feel down, I'm just here. On the one hand, I feel this great desire to get closer to God. I heard this tour guide at the Cathedral asking for quiet, because we wouldn't to interrupt people while they were talking with their best friend, Jesus. Is Jesus my best friend? It's probably more right to say that he's done the most for me. I've had moments. Anything else I say is a half-truth. And yet, I could not hold back the desire for what the celebrant called, "joy without end." And the desire not to be left without a wedding garment. Indeed, it seems my life is marked by failure, or at least the fear of it. Yes, I know fear. Where is the perfect love that drives out fear?

I Guess I Believe Nonsense

Someone on my social media feed said that the alleged evidence for the Catholic Church being the Church Christ founded was "nonsense." I guess I can say in reply that if one refuses to admit the possibility, it's hardly news that one denies it. It got me thinking, though: What were the highlights of considering that possibility? I think the moment I realized that an invisible Church could only exist as a mental abstraction. And further that one wouldn't be able to hold any kind of center, if any person could define the universal Church and its dogmas any way they liked. Realizing that the New Covenant is supposed to be bigger and greater than the Old, so you're not going to get rid of sacrifice without calling the God of Abraham crazy. Realizing it's safer to be in the same Church with Augustine, instead of calling him a papist toadie. In the end, realizing that Jesus won't leave me, or lead me astray. Realizing this is still true, even if I or my brot


It's a movie I just saw, about an aspiring singer in Dublin who befriends a girl, and they make a record together. [You were going to say, "make music together," beautiful music, but then people would think you meant sex.--ed.] They don't actually have sex, which is part of the intrigue. On the other hand, I don't want to laud this as some wonderful example of friendship, because he sure wanted to. [Then you've never have been a friend to any woman.--ed.] You know, you're a real pal. [I learn from the best.--ed.] On the one hand, I was glad she didn't betray her marriage vows to do what they both wanted to do. On the other, I could understand the guy's tension, and what he thinks is pure luck of the bad variety. The writer messes with you a little, because he puts in the woman's mouth some fairly unflattering statements about the husband, and whether her family would survive. It seems like what we might call an "emotional affair,"

A Few Brief Common Core Thoughts

I am most sensitive that some of the recommendations in the liberal arts, if you will, go against the moral law. I am not overly upset by the mathematics, which is trying to teach inductive and deductive reasoning, among other things. We are obsessed with "practicality" and utility, and that is pathetic, on either side of the political spectrum. True knowledge is a good in itself, and should be sought. If a thing is also materially beneficial, so much the better. Yet our society has too many people who don't know what they don't know, and aren't too interested in finding out. Let the teachers teach. And if there is some moral or religious objection to something in the curriculum, let parents and teachers modify the curriculum as they see fit, together. We're not saying that word enough. Or we say it, and we don't mean it. We mean "together" as "the people who already think like I do." Anyway, I think I understand the purpose of Comm

Not A Trump Toadie

I'll be brief: Everything in National Review's "Against Trump" issue is undeniably true. It hasn't changed. The specter of Hillary Clinton doesn't somehow make it go away. He is not, as some would have it, a good candidate (or man) with flaws; he is a bad man, who adds willful ignorance to his witches' brew of racism, xenophobia, and resentment. Quite simply, he has no earthly idea what he's talking about, and he countenances, supports, or outright endorses the worst elements of the "alt-right." The man's biggest advocate in the conservative media is Ann Coulter. That tells me all I need to know. Namely, that maybe racism and paranoia were a bigger part of the "conservative movement" than passionate contrarians of good will were ready to face. "Judges" is the main argument that good people use to justify their vote for Trump. You know, I have been chasing the phantasm of overturning Roe my whole adult life. It won

If They Won't Tell You

Longtime ESPN journalist and personality John Saunders is dead at the age of 61. He was good. Really good. He always seemed to be having a good time, and to be legitimately joyful. Appearances can always deceive, I suppose. In fact, I have to assume it was a suicide. If it were anything else, they'd say it, even if they had to say "apparent" first, pending an investigation. It may not have been. But when it is, we need to stop saying "passed away." A person who commits suicide doesn't "pass away". They violently took their own life. Whatever else we say about mental illness, and mitigating factors (especially as Catholics), we need to not surrender to a cultural tendency not to face the ugliness of this, and other things.  To take another example, an artist who dies from a drug addiction is not "gone too soon." In one sense, yes. Middle age or younger is not the ordinary time to die. But we should expect to die, if we are doing thing