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To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:79 American Catholics arrive at Thanksgiving this year on a somber note. The calamities of 2020 have been many: An ongoing pandemic with hundreds... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Go, Rebuild My House
After leaving my academic post earlier this year, I am rediscovering the joy of reading for its own sake, free from publication deadlines and the pressure to produce peer-reviewed journal articles. This week I started reading Bernard Häring’s three-volume study, Free and Faithful in Christ. Published in 1978, the first... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
As if further proof were necessary, the results of the recent U.S. elections have forcefully confirmed what we already knew: the United States is a deeply divided nation. And so is the Catholic Church in this country. On November 7 – four days after Election Day – almost every reputable... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
By the time you read this blog, the voting will be over, but the counting will still be going on—perhaps for many days more. But whoever is President for the next four years, Catholics and their church need to do some serious soul searching as we look into the future.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
The plan had been to write a post comparing the place of God and religion in Canadian and American elections, a topic that might have ended up making me sound like a smug neighbor to the north. (Full confession: these days, I probably am.) The idea was to talk about... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
The nation has learned many things this election cycle. We have learned that President Donald Trump’s narcissism is total, standing firm even in the face of a pandemic. We have learned that former Vice President Joe Biden is no longer as sharp as he once was, but he is nobody’s... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
In 1969, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, theologian Henri de Lubac gave an address at St. Louis University entitled “L’Église dans la crise actuelle” (“The Church in the current crisis.”) De Lubac addressed at length the divisions facing the church, which were particularly stark for his audience... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
It is clear that relations with mainland China are fraught. The geopolitical situation is hazardous and seemingly insurmountable. Diplomacy has collapsed into shouting matches; polemical argument supplants reasoned argument. But there may be an avenue we haven’t explored, and it is an unusual recourse. What do Carrie Lam, the chief... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
In 2017, I listened to a fascinating interview on the TED Radio Hour with the artist, Titus Kaphar, in which he movingly recalls his experience of taking his two sons to the Brooklyn Natural History Museum, when the infamous Teddy Roosevelt Statue still sat outside the main entrance. When his... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
How does a country cope with shame? In July 1942 French police in occupied Paris carried out “Operation Spring Breeze”—arresting 13,000 Jews, including 4,000 children, who were detained in the Vélodrome d'Hiver (a cycling stadium). The detainees were held for five days with little food or water, while awaiting transport... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
Those eager for reform in the Catholic Church have looked to Catholic universities for inspiration. But Catholic universities are beset by many of the same problems that plague the Church: clericalism, top-down decision-making, lack of diversity, reluctance to change and a culture of fear. These are Catholic twists on more... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
Times of crises will scatter people into different directions to make sense of what is occurring or to gather ideas for what can be done. The current global condition of fear and disruption caused me recently to amble through some older documents and articles, and happily I came across several... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
‘Imagine a sower going out to sow …’ In this case the seed is the theological vision and rhetoric of a synodal church, sown by Pope Francis. The crop will be the translation of this vision into a changed ecclesial culture and law, embodied in the nuts and bolts of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
Images of a priest-centered church have been on vivid display following the onset of COVID-19, when public health and government officials issued directives to shelter at home and severely limited public gatherings, including public worship. The reflex of many pastors was to livestream the eucharist from the splendid isolation of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
Catholics watching the intensifying debate over “cancel culture” could be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at the sudden interest in a phenomenon we have been dealing with, and fighting about, for decades or longer. How do you say “Been there, done that” in Latin? Drawing lines around orthodoxy and authority... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
How many times do we hear that this period of pandemic brings us face to face with incomprehensible uncertainties? We yearn for a “normal,” yet our “new normal” continues to be imbedded in uncertainty. So Catholics might take comfort in that July 2020 marks 150 years since the promulgation of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
It has been an iconoclastic summer in the U.S. and across the world, particularly societies such as Britain that once commanded racist empires and still benefit from that fact. Statues honoring historical figures – Confederate generals, U.S. presidents, Christopher Columbus, to name but a few – have been brought down... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
Elisabeth Frink’s Walking Madonna outside Salisbury Cathedral is a statue of a life-sized woman with her back to the cathedral, dwarfed by the medieval edifice behind her but striding resolutely towards the open spaces ahead. At a time when we are acutely aware of the communicative power of statues, that... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
It’s impossible to rebuild a house when it’s still on fire. The work of reconstruction cannot begin until the blaze is extinguished or the structure is completely reduced to ashes. Catholics in the United States are watching two of their dwellings burn right now – their spiritual home and their... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
In these days of concern and protest over police violence against people of color, and with what is hopefully a burgeoning awareness on the part of the rest of us of the extent of our white privilege and the blindness that accompanies it, what does the gospel lead us to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
In the 10 years I spent as an RCIA director, one of the biggest challenges I faced was marshalling my diplomatic skills in response to magical thinking. Not from the catechumens, mind you, but from zealous sponsors like the one who stressed the heightened efficacy of engaging in a favorite... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
It has been a hell of a year here in the U.S., a time of diminishment and decline and desperation. How can the Catholic Church respond to the moment in which we find ourselves, and might those responses, in turn, be a part of the ongoing effort to renew the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
This past winter, I was walking along a sidewalk with Martha Hennessy when the question of whether property destruction is nonviolent came up. It is an old question, one that has been a point of disagreement between the Catholic Worker movement and the Plowshares movement, both of which Martha is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House
For many people, this time of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to mind Albert Camus’s novel The Plague, the story of a North African port city quarantined during an outbreak of bubonic plague. Camus’s subject is not really the plague itself but the response it evokes, and what it reveals... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2020 at Go, Rebuild My House