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Showing posts from 2017

Confessions Of An Emerging Liberal (Or Something Close)

I am a Medicaid customer. I say "customer," for reasons that will become clear. In some sense, I am not what I regarded as the target group for Medicaid: desperately poor people with no health insurance of any kind, and thus, no regular access to health care services. I am participating in Medicaid because Medicare does not pay for personal care assistance, and those costs can get prohibitive for persons with disabilities. That is, choosing between eating and personal care kind of prohibitive. I have been successful in recent days in expanding my income beyond my Social Security Disability Income (Yay for me!) But did you know that we pay for Medicare out of Social Security? Part of every Social Security check has a withholding for Medicare. Medicare is not free. Anything in the way of rhetoric suggesting that Medicare is simply spending by the federal government is false. It amounts to a premium, like any other insurance. Medicaid works in a similar way. There is somethi

Faith Comes From What Is Heard, Feingold (III)

The second chapter in this section is called, "The Virtue of Divine Faith." As we have already seen, the starting point of sacred theology is the fact of God's revelation of himself. If there is to be a relationship between God and man, then man needs a power by which he assents to what has been revealed. At the supernatural level, Feingold says, this power of assent is called divine faith. We are reminded that in Catholic theology, grace builds upon nature, so that the supernatural definition of faith is not wholly unlike that for human faith. Feingold defines faith in general as a “firm assent of the mind to things unseen." He points out that a thing can be seen in two ways: by the senses, and by the mind. First principles are self-evident, says Feingold. These are immediately grasped by the mind as true. Things which can be empirically observed are “seen” by the senses. Thirdly, truths can be seen by the mind that are deduced from a sound process of reaso

Personal Reflections On Perspicuity, Or The Lack Thereof, With Respect To Sacred Scripture

It's been insisted to me many times that I in particular, and those of us at Called To Communion, denigrate Sacred Scripture, or must make it seem opaque, in order to make a case for the Catholic Church and her Magisterium. This is false. The Church herself makes no such case , and as her loyal son, I have no interest in discouraging the reading of the Bible  by anyone. How far back do you want to go? As many people have said before, critiquing Sola Scriptura is critiquing a methodology, not the source of the method. We Catholics understand that Sola Scriptura as a method and a rallying cry is an attempt (even unwittingly) to read the Scriptures against the Church, instead of within the Church. It is beyond my purpose to explain exactly how clear (or not) the Scriptures are, not to mention beyond my ability. I want to reiterate and agree with what Bryan Cross and Neal Judisch have written , echoing also the contribution  of my friend Fred Noltie. I have yet to successfully lobby

We Need A Bigger Black Elite

Just out of curiosity, I looked up the enrollment numbers of the most well-known historically black colleges and universities, because I was trying to explain to a friend what an HBCU was. Not that I really know. Truthfully, it was distressing. If there is any truth to the idea that any society is only as good as its elites, we all are in trouble. In a more general sense, we are imperiled by the fact that the American elite believes the wrong things about humanity and our purpose. More specific to this point, if the black experience is marred by a power imbalance with the wider white monoculture, then a contest between the elites--or at least a dialogue--needs to occur. If this black elite is too small, then it can't get enough power to make a difference in black life more generally. I honestly thought these centers of black expertise were bigger than they are. Please remind me not to take any notions of "reverse racism" seriously for the rest of my life. On the other

I Wasn't Going Back To Pop Music

But I mentioned to Johnny Irish the other week that I didn't think I'd actually heard Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys all the way through. Well, we know what's going to happen. I listened to it at least 4 times yesterday. [Bet I know which song is your favorite. Besides "God Only Knows". That doesn't count.--ed.] Alright, what's my favorite song? ["Caroline, No".--ed.] Dangit, right! [You're so utterly predictable.--ed.] Can't argue with that. Maybe George Capps is right: You can't be a huge pop star and not be a ruin. I don't know how much responsibility we can take for the whole thing, but I'm sure we have some. This Cranberries album I have on is amazing. I hope everyone in the band is happy, healthy, and going to Mass regularly. I am pretty sure I could listen to this woman sing for a year straight, and not tire of it. It's actually too bad I was 13 when this was big. It's hard to appreciate anything when you are

A Great Desire

Following up on my post from the other day , it reminded me of something a very holy priest said about the virtue of chastity. If you find yourself enmeshed in the opposite vice, it means that your desire for God is great. This may mean we have committed a kind of idolatry, either of sexual pleasure, or even marriage, but it's encouraging in its own way. It means that our desires are disordered. If our desires are disordered, it means that with God's help and friendship, our desires can be properly ordered. Truly, all we must do is open ourselves to God's love and power, and refuse to give up on ourselves. When I mentioned prayer in the last post on this, I had a thought as a former Protestant that as Catholics we'd find a way to botch this up. Have you ever known or been the guy who prays the Rosary--maybe lots of them--but if you're honest, it doesn't make a big difference in your life? Maybe there is a metaphorical checklist, and the Rosary is on it. Mayb

A Conversion In Two Distinct Stages

I had a theological and intellectual problem in 2008: What is true about God, and how do I know whatever I find is true? The thing I kept running into, the thing that cannot be overstated, is that there are too many good, holy, smart people to dismiss them all as heathen, or morons, when you happen upon an impasse or a disagreement. This is even harder to do when we share some fundamental agreements of deep conviction and methodology, such as the inerrancy of Scripture, and that Scripture alone is the only infallible rule for faith and practice. If you hand the Scriptures to someone like me, and say, "Learn these. Study these. Learn how to teach and preach the Scriptures to others" that's exactly what I'm going to do. By all means, give me commentaries. I want as much background information as I can get, so that when I begin to prayerfully prepare to exposit them, I can rightly handle the word of truth. I don't really think it's shocking that we read books a

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken: The Paradoxical Joy Of The Cross

Suffering and joy are not the same. When I tell you that I felt great joy right after the car hit me, it's not in spite of the suffering; it's not after the suffering, either. "In the midst of" is about right, if you will pardon the cliche. The suffering is its own thing. You can hurt and sorrow in it while being joyful. Why? Well, we've always heard that joy is deeper than a feeling; it's true. Joy is a habit, a permanent disposition of confidence in Christ's victory over death and Hell. Joy is living faith, weaponized. I've got to hand it to the Lord for the timing: shortly after Holy Mass on an Easter Friday. I had half a thought on the ground there that this wasn't what I was planning today. Imagine that. I was mostly annoyed that I wouldn't be using the free slider coupon I'd just gotten for adding $1 to my order, to feed hungry kids. A trusted guide said to me, "After all this, you don't hate!" I understood what h

Adventures In Chastity: Practical Advice For Men

I'm inspired to write this post because the news is a steady drumbeat now of some powerful man who acted sinfully, inappropriately, or downright criminally toward a woman. Plenty of Christians right now are struggling with the virtue of chastity, or bearing the burden of their sins against that virtue. As a man who has been "that guy," (more than you have, I'm pretty sure) I have found a few things that helped practically. [Oh, crap, this is about to be a listicle.--ed.] Sorry, man. 1. Decide to stop hating yourself. God actually loves you more than you do, infinitely, and especially when you have failed spectacularly. Your destiny is not Hell, ultimately. God's "desire" for you is Heaven, seeing Him and sharing His friendship forever. So the first step is to want what God wants, and to reject any thoughts you might have that sound like, "I'm a failure and a freak, who will never be able to obey the commandments." That's a lie, straig

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken: The Time Of Darkness

I have written before about the accident that nearly claimed my life. Some parts of the struggle can't be seen or described up close. You need distance and time to see what's really taking place. Many months later, I can describe it. Right after the accident, and for four days afterward, I felt almost unimaginable joy. I know it sounds crazy, but I won't lie to you. I could say I've never understood real love until then, and in some sense it would be true. I knew that God loved me, as the only reality that exists, as if it were air, or food. If you were there, I don't know what you saw, but that's what I knew. The physical suffering was there, but it was completely irrelevant. My most difficult moment, if that is the right thing to call it, was consoling my mother when she first saw me. No one can touch your heart like your mother. I don't remember praying for myself at all. I remember praying for a man dying of cancer, who somehow got hurt physically. I

Roy Halladay (1977-2017)

My heart was heavy all day, because we lost Roy. Now, of course, I don’t know him. But baseball is a brotherhood, and no less for fans. I can’t know what his wife must feel. I know something about what his sons must feel, because losing your Dad is one of the hardest things you’ll ever go through. But Roy was my friend, because we both love baseball. He loved it so much that he literally played until his arm and shoulder fell apart. Some guys never lose the fire, they just lose the ability. Our beloved Chris Carpenter was his close friend. There’s another guy who loved baseball until it hurt. No wonder they were close. As Providence would have it, Carpenter and Halladay opposed each other in the deciding game of a playoff series. Carpenter and his Cardinals prevailed over Halladay and his Phillies, 1-0. Both pitchers started and dominated all the way to the end. The deciding run came in the first inning. It remains the greatest baseball game I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t have been a

Casey Chalk, Call Your Office!

 In my indelicate way, I may have suggested that listening to “higher” music like opera and “classical” was “snobby.” Well, maybe it is, and please consider me a snob henceforth. I was wrong. And I think it was just a bad day that day. There’s life before Beethoven’s 5th, and life after. (And Smetana. And Tchaikovsky. And loads else.) You all know I have an addictive personality, and this addictive personality wants more snobby music. Not tomorrow. Not next week. As I like to say, “Like, yesterday.” I still love Taylor Swift, at least between 2006-2010. The rest ranges between “Meh” and “Please stop”. And more generally, I don’t trust the taste of people who categorically hate “Country” music. That’s just silly. And Johnny Cash is not country; Johnny Cash is Johnny Cash. The people who say they hate country but love Cash are just hipsters who like Johnny Cash. Yes, the “bro country” is terrible. And let us explore why. Suppose you’re one of those people who listen only for the

Say That Again

“My chair is my throne from which I rule the world.”—Laura Cross, Halloween, 2017 “...and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Ex. 19:6, RSV) “But God, who is rich in mercy...made us alive together with Christ...and made us sit with him in the heavenly places...” (Ephesians 2:4-6) “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” (1 Cor. 6:3) Yes, my teacher, I am listening. In context, Laura was humorously dressed as Cleopatra for Halloween. The word for true things in theology that also point to something else is called typology . The exodus from Egypt happened. It is also true that this liberation is a sign or type of the full liberation offered to everyone in Jesus. The Bible is littered with typology. Here’s the eleventy billion dollar question: What if our lives are littered with the same typology, signs of hope for a future with God, and we just miss it? Do you see a wheelchair, struggle, difference, and defect when you look at me (or Laura)? Why

Faith Comes From What Is Heard: Addendum To Chapter 1

In the first footnote of chapter one, Dr. Feingold quotes the Jesuit theologian, Rene Latourelle: “God’s word to humanity is the first Christian reality: the first fact, the first mystery, the first category...Revelation is the original mystery; it communicates every other mystery.” (Theology of Revelation, pp. 13-14) The heart of theology is the Incarnation and the paschal mystery, because the heart of those mysteries is God’s love for humanity, and for each one of us. Latourelle writes with great beauty and truth regarding the Incarnation in another work. He writes: “This radiance of power and wisdom and love, which is, properly speaking, the glory of Christ, attests that he really is God-with-us, come among men to deliver them from sin and raise them up to everlasting life. It is by his Incarnation that the Son manifests the Father and his saving design; it is also by means of the Incarnation that men identify Christ as the Father’s Son.” (Christ and the Church: Signs of Salvati

Some Definitions For Clarity

The terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” refer, as we know, to the political issue of abortion. It has numerous moral and social implications, but we ought not forget that every political claim is a moral claim. This truth becomes obscured by the fact that some political positions or claims don’t seem like moral claims, or don’t move people as passionately as others do. When many people say, “Keep morality out of politics,” or “You can’t legislate morality,” what they really mean is, “I don’t like the particular moral claims that this person is attempting to enforce.” Just think about that for a minute. Anyway, some definitions for the issue of abortion: “Pro-life”—It is never morally acceptable to take the life of a baby in the womb. “Pro-choice”—It is at least sometimes morally acceptable to take the life of a baby in the womb. As you can see, there are a lot of surrounding discussions that are worth having, especially surrounding difficult circumstances faced by pregnant women t

Faith Comes From What Is Heard: An Introduction To Fundamental Theology, Feingold (II)

The first part of the book is called, “Revelation and Faith: God Speaks to Man and Our Response”. The first chapter of three in this part is titled, “Revelation and Salvation History”. Feingold writes, “The existence of sacred theology as a discipline distinct from philosophy is based on the fact that God speaks to man in history and man is capable of hearing, receiving, and discerning God’s revealed Word.” One point of departure for Catholics and Reformed is the nature of this capability, and man’s access to natural knowledge of God. This difference has been discussed at length elsewhere. I should note that it is unclear to me whether Reformed theology affirms a natural desire to see God that is frustrated by man’s inability to reach it, or whether man is flatly unable to desire seeing God, on account of his fall from original righteousness. In any case, Feingold says, “That the eternal God speaks to man, a little part of His creation, is logically unexpected, but is secretly longed f

A Note About Respect For Other Religions

I have yet to read a statement to the world’s Hindus from the Vatican, but upon seeing that it existed, and that it distinguishes between “tolerance”—regarded as necessary but insufficient—and “respect” that it commends, a few thoughts: Every person, to the measure of their ability, has the natural desire and capacity to see God. That is, we’re made for fellowship with God. The natural religions of the world represent man’s search for God, in accord with that natural desire. The Catholic Church affirms and teaches that a great many things can be known about God through reason alone. Therefore, we are respecting precisely those things that are true about God, or about ourselves, that can be known by reason alone, in other religions. That’s potentially a lot of stuff, especially regarding the existence of God, and most of His attributes. Christianity is a revealed religion. We call it “supernatural revelation,” when God reveals Himself and His attributes to man, especially beyond man

A Few Thoughts On “Me Too”

I cried some today. In fairness, I cry about a lot of things. And it wasn’t simply sexual assault today. But still, many of your stories break my heart, truly. I have nothing to add that seems helpful. And it’s not enough to say that I am or have been part of the problem, though that’s true. I want to say more. I want to say that even if some on “the Left” want to take this movement places I can’t go, I still want to hear you. I don’t think “consent” is enough, and I’m not “sex-positive,” but I want to be here with you. I’ve said my peace to the counterculture; I don’t need to be defensive right now. I don’t see a point in defending men, or defending women. If a large majority of us agree that all these actions are not acceptable, why not start there? I could condemn actors for their galling hypocrisy until I’m blue in the face, but it shuts the door to empathy. We all need more empathy. There is an idea that empathy is for fools, for the weak. Maybe so. Maybe someone will take m

Faith Comes From What Is Heard: An Introduction To Fundamental Theology, Feingold (I)

I intend for this initial post to cover some personal reflections, and the introduction. I mean for there to be at least 19 posts in the series, for the introduction and the book’s eighteen chapters. However, you may have noticed that I think of more things upon reflection, so addenda are not uncommon. I will add Roman numerals to each main body text post, but mark everything with the tag “Feingold.” You can decide therefore how much additional time you want to spend on my haphazard ramblings. Dr. (Larry) and Mrs. (Marsha) Feingold are personal friends. I owe to them so much, if I have any maturity in the faith, any supernatural wisdom. I stayed at their house each weekend, when I myself was a student in Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. Larry was also one of my RCIA teachers. I have heard dozens of supplemental catechetical lectures by him for the Association of Hebrew Catholics, based here in St. Louis. Those efforts have blessed innumerable people in the Arch

Logical Argument

Here is an argument: Murder is the intentional killing of an innocent human person; Procured abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human person in the womb. Murder is illegal; Therefore, procured or elective abortion should be illegal. I don't see any religiosity there.

Pragmatism, Again

If I were going to push back against the current gun control advocacy, this  might be as good an argument as I can make. But. It presumes that a law is only good or wise if it prevents a particular crime or tragedy. We could ask many questions, such as, "What sort of society do we want and need?" How might people be formed in virtue by a society where the possession of lethal weapons is an oddity, rather than commomplace? We could also challenge the classical liberal contention that the state's putative authority may be revoked at any time, by force. The insurrectionist viewpoint that formed the basis for our Second Amendment is flatly contrary to Christian teaching on the source and end of political authority.

Thanks, Colin

I knew there was humility and sensitivity in Kaepernick's initial actions, but I couldn't remember the details. Here they are, collected by a man named Roy Welsh: "This is from my friend Roy Welsh's page. Apparently, the #takingaknee is a sign of respect Courtesy of Dutch Harold Coleman If you dont know why he was kneeling then now you will and you will know its not out of disrespect of anyone. #FORTHEOPENMINDED Do you know how Kaepernick came to the decision to #takenaknee? Aug 14, 2016- Colin Kaepernick sits for the national anthem. No one notices. Aug 20th, 2016- Colin again sits, and again, no one noticed. Aug 26th, 2016- Colin sits and this time he is met with a level of vitriol unseen against an athlete. Even the future President of the United States took shots at him while on the campaign trail. Colin went on to explain his protest had NOTHING to with the military, but he felt it hard to stand for a flag that didn't treat people of color fairly.

What I'm Missing About Being Black In America

Not long ago, I was a conservative firebrand. I argued against every left-tinted idea you could think of, no matter how reasonable it might be. The introduction to Thomas Sowell's "The Vision Of The Anointed" perfectly described how I felt: progressives think they're better than anyone else, and they'll demonize anyone and anything that stands in their way. They were the Anointed, and everyone else was not. There's plenty of that still around, and it can be true of many progressives. Harmony and progress are not on the agenda. But in these latter days, I have begun to intentionally reflect on what it must be like to be black in America even now. In the first place, to a white Republican, the legacy of slavery sounds like a guilt trip from another entitled leftist, who wants power over me, my family, and my friends. Truthfully, my friends, this is our initial thought. And to be frank with you, even in this moment, I don't have a lot of warm feelings towar

Is God Trying To Reach Lady Gaga?

Yes, man! God is real, you know. "Jesus Loves You" isn't just a bumper sticker. I think a lot of people think God only loves people when they aren't sinners anymore. It's true that God loves a righteous person more, and it is also true that we may grow in both justification and sanctification. It is also true that God is the great unchanging force of love. "What is received is received according to the mode of the receiver." As we grow in obedience to God, we are better able to understand and reflect His love. I have always sensed that her heart wasn't truly in this Sexual Revolution stuff. Oh, she's tried it, like many of us. But she carries the scars. I also think many people are "affirming," not because they don't know the truth about who we are, but because they think it's the only way to be people-affirming. If you hang around people in bars, you figure out they have a lot of regrets, but above all, they don't want

Faith, Again

Faith sees things that can't be ordinarily seen, because it pertains to things beyond rational demonstration. Not contrary to things known by reason, but beyond; that is, above. I'm going to leave the philosophy to the experts, at this point. But we should not be afraid of a theology of personal encounter. I don't have doubts, as people tend to think of them, because Jesus has spoken to me personally. The same Jesus who gives the divine gift of holiness to His Church. It had only remained for me to re-orient myself to the means by which supernatural revelation is known, viz. the Catholic Church. There was a time when I knew things supernatural without understanding how I knew them. And before reconciling to the Church, what I knew, I knew imperfectly. Sooner or later, it has to come down to the fact that Jesus has come, died for our sins, and rose from the dead. There is much more "of faith" than this, but if you start here, it's very possible to end in th

On Pastoral Theology (Again)

Pastoral theology isn't just for pastors. Pastoral theology is the art and science of leading people to know, understand, and love God. It involves essentially "translating" the truths of the faith into language and experience that people understand. Sometimes, though, it involves sinners being sinners. We all know that correction and admonition can be part of that, but how do you actually speak the truth in love, in concrete situations? If it is true that God has designed our sexuality in a particular way, such that any number of behaviors are contrary to His purpose by their very nature, I have to speak that truth at some point. Maybe not in 30 seconds. Maybe not upon meeting their loved ones for the first time. Maybe not. But if I never say it, if I don't hold out God's design and purpose as a goal, then I do not love them as God does, and for His sake. But someone linked a story, obviously to provoke a reaction, of a "gay" couple bringing forward

I Am Not A Maniac

The truth is, before the accident, I was carefree. Getting hit by a car while "walking" was a running joke. It still is, it's just way darker now! Anyway, I get scared now. They tell me it will pass, and maybe it will, but frankly, I've had close calls since. I don't mean to scare you. People turn, and they don't look. Why would you not look? We have well-marked crosswalks here. I do check for turn signals on cars, but if you don't signal, you're going to kill someone. No, you can't sneak that quick turn in. Just don't. And let's get something out in the open: when you see a person in a wheelchair on the street, you probably think, "How great to see a person with those challenges out and about!" I'm just walking. I have things to do; I don't have time to engage in pity parties, or your inspirational reverie. Point is, we're out here, there are a lot of us, and you need to look. I live in a building with 80 other pe

Playing The Hits

I went to Confession today, confessing things I've done before. The advice was the same, too. But God, as supreme Love, keeps no record of wrongs, either. I must give thanks for His priest, who embodies this spirit also. It was much like I had never gone there before. Do we know the bounty of His love, or are we expecting to be endlessly whacked with a celestial clipboard, at best? This is not to say we don't have doctrines and dogmas and so on. Too many think "love" cares nothing for these. But I invite you to consider this: if God indeed wills our salvation, as He says many times, then we ought never think God is against us. On the other hand, lest we think we have the power within us, we remember that every single movement toward God we have undertaken or will undertake is enabled by His grace. This is a great and holy mystery. The encouragement we must draw is this: we acknowledge our sins without being sucked down by them. If we give up on ourselves, we par

Don't Poke The Bear

I'm a bit testy today on social media. [Aren't you always testy?--ed.] Probably. I don't have hate-watch groups and "I got banned by Jason Kettinger!" clubs yet, though. I just don't like traditionalists. I don't like them. I don't want to hear about the Latin Mass. I don't care. I've tried to care. I'm not a hippie; I just attend the Novus Ordo all the time, and I. Don't. Care. I want the Holy Mass to be reverent, and according to the rubrics. But everything after that statement is the first step to dissent. I want no part of it. I understand that the pope is not routinely infallible; I also understand that many people feel the need to remind him of that. I'm sure his spiritual director has tons of work to do. Good. But you are not that guy. I digress. I'm not always nice, or even charitable about it, if someone is talking about what I consider irrelevancies. I'd say I was sorry, but I am not. This is a rant. 

A Good Theologian

A good theologian repeats things others have said. I am definitely wary of anything that starts off, "You won't find this on Catholic Answers or EWTN..." You think you're too good for them? There's your problem. I'd love to have the impact they've had. Cleverness is sometimes the enemy of the truth. You're not too good for the Catechism, either. Idiosyncratic theologians are generally bad theologians. Don't reinvent the wheel, please.

A Couple Different Things

There could certainly be some value in simply stating, "Abortion is murder," but to my mind, St. John Paul II had no reason to condemn consequentialism, if the most difficult cases brought forth no sympathy. In other words, real people we would identify as non-monsters are tempted to do evil that good may result every day. Do you actually help anyone by identifying the Democrats as the party of baby-murderers? Does that serve to create space to discuss anything, though it may be factually correct? In fact, I believe you call that "virtue signaling," don't you? In other news, I will go to my grave believing that Bernie Sanders is not really a socialist, because words mean things, and Bernie of today dropped in 1985 is a standard-issue Democrat. Reagan might call you that for effect, but he'd crack a smile at a 52 percent tax rate being described as "socialist." "Madam," he'd say, "You haven't seen high tax rates." But

Street Catholicism

I have friends who used to use this phrase to describe the world of numerous private revelations and popular devotions, in contrast to the "comfortable" Catholicism of the Bishop's Church and the Catechism. In the end, it was a good-natured joke for us. Unfortunately, many dissenting voices are not joking. They disdain the "institutional Church" to promote whatever "real" practices they prefer. Fr. James Martin, SJ, is such a voice. He apparently believes that being "gay affirming" is the way to freedom. He also mistakenly believes that those of us who uphold all the Church's teachings are chained, fearful, or bigoted. Let me tell you something. I don't merely assent; I lovingly and joyously assent. If what the Church teaches is what Jesus gave us, not believing it is rejecting Jesus Our Lord! I hope the thought of it causes you grief, as it does me. We all struggle and fail. But as always, it's what we do in response that d

The Greatest Band In The World

For sheer longevity, iconic songs and albums, social impact, and widespread appeal, it has to be U2. Here's a little cultural penetration experiment: take an LP that you don't own but is reputed notable. If you know all the words and can sing along, it's significant for music pop culture. [Didn't you do this with "Rumours," by Fleetwood Mac?--ed.] Yeah, truly creepy. The reason I bring this up is that I know two people who have no idea who they are. I guess if you spend the '70s and '80s in Israel and Argentina training Catholic clergy, you might not know who they are. The rest of us, especially in the English-speaking world, well... I'm actually looking forward to hearing entire releases I've never listened to.

If People Speak The Truth, Believe Them (Even If It's Ugly)

I'm a proud Yankee, in the sense that I'd still be punishing the South for the Civil War, if it were my call. Lincoln wasn't perfect, but close enough. Especially for the time. I have sympathy for particular people, like General Lee and General Stonewall Jackson, who were not monsters, and had many fine qualities, despite fighting for an evil cause. It's the revisionism about the causes of the war that's not only irritating, but dangerous. If we choose to ignore the plain words of the Confederates themselves, to the effect of black inferiority, or in challenge to the universal equality spoken of in the US Constitution, we delude ourselves. It was about slavery, absolutely and unequivocally. Were other things also worthy of sympathy? Of course. I have no particular sympathy for self-interested Northern--nay, northeastern--factory owners, who didn't mind the European tariffs falling on the South. I think the utter destruction of the South was terrible and coun

On The Other Hand

Setting aside the car accident, I want to return to an aspect of my daily experience. We're not the same. Most of you have no experience living with cerebral palsy. You don't think about moving an arm or leg; you just do it. If you had major orthopedic surgery in your youth, it'd be a story of an injury, not a rite of passage. So many things are different. And yet. The one thing we all want is to feel loved, understood, and valued as people. I believe we all share a common fear that we are alone, that no one understands, that no one really cares. If you really want to help me, don't fret the physical things; let me know that the lurking fear every human knows, at least for these moments, isn't true or real. There are people who lay it on pretty thick, in terms of "demythologizing," in a sense, the life of disability. To paraphrase one speaker, I don't need an award for living. And yet. I must learn to live with the curious tension of desiring

I Will Not Become What I Hate

I think Dr. Haidt is really on to something . And that's with the evolution assumptions notwithstanding. I have not always been reasonable. I would like to be. Civility is not an end in itself, but it's a virtue that allows us the intellectual and relational space to hear each other. I don't ever want to hate "The Left" as much as others hate "The Right". Let me know if you think the state of our political discourse is radically better than I think it is. What can we do ourselves to make it better? These considerations don't change fundamental moral values, and given the fact that politics eventually involves power, there are limits to the amity that can be achieved. But I would be willing to bet that most of us are exhausted, and hoping there's a better way. If we Christians truly believe that all people are made in the image of God, they cannot in the end be "the other." How might that change our political engagement?

Bless Us, O Lord

I have begun with the first four words of our most common Catholic meal prayer to let you know that I'm eating! Still liquids for a time, but I'm on my way to making this feeding tube superfluous! Most of you who know me know that my tastes are simple. But Campbell's vegetable beef soup puréed is way better than you'd think. [Mom added some beef broth to thicken it, yeah?--ed.] Yep. I'm drinking Gatorade right now. Technically, my eating status hasn't changed, but the speech therapist thinks it's safe, so I'm doing it. I have to pass what's called a "barium swallow test"--it's as radioactive and disgusting as it sounds--before the official change. We give thanks, Almighty God, for these and all Thy gifts, Thou who lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever, Amen.