Getting to know the God of Love

One of the (few) bright spots in Sunday’s Oscar show had to be Luke Matheny’s acceptance speech upon winning Best Short Film. It was nice to see someone genuinely surprised and excited to be on that stage — and who thanked his mother, “who did craft services for the film,” and the great state of … Read more

What Is Fight Club?

I want you to hit me as hard as you can. That’s what Brad Pitt asked of Ed Norton on the silver screen back in 1999. Norton complied, and a cult phenomenon was born. Before David Fincher directed Social Network, a dark film about existentially desperate young men struggling to create meaning by way of … Read more

Rowing Upstream: On Being Catholic in the Modern World

Many years ago I was attending my first faculty reception at my first formal faculty appointment, at Stanford, and was met at the receiving line by the sponsoring dean with a warm handshake and the baffling words, “I want to tell you that I have the greatest admiration for your Church.” The two of us … Read more

Things Not Due to Teaching

Aristotle said that there are some things we would want to have even if they did not give us pleasure. His examples were sight and hearing. St. Basil the Great (330-379), in his wonderfully titled Detailed Rules for Monks (N.B.: Jesuits are not monks, though they have no problem with St. Basil), wrote: “Love of … Read more

Speaking Truth in Love

Over at Whispers in the Loggia, the hard-working Rocco has an interesting post on Cardinal Wuerl’s most recent article on the issue of civil discourse, “Speaking Truth in Love”, noting that the cardinal’s high-profile (and, as head of the Archdiocese of Washington, unique) position in the American Catholic Church makes his thoughts on the matter … Read more

Trappist monk living the meaning of ‘love your enemies’

Last year I blogged about the film Des Hommes et des Dieux, the story of the Trappist monks of Tibhirine who were murdered during the 1996 Algerian civil war. CNA now reports that one of the survivors of the attack on the monastery, Brother Jean Pierre Schumacher, gave an interview with the Spanish weekly Alfa … Read more

Absolute Non-Judgment

A former student of mine, studying at Oxford, came across my essay on “Love and Dogma.” Many of his peers, he told me, when asked what their religion was, responded, “Love.” He would then astutely ask a further question: What did they understand “love” to mean? To them, love means nothing other than “absolute non-judgment.” … Read more

The Test of Intimacy

My wife Alice and I were married on an August morning in 1964 in a Presbyterian church just south of Richmond, Virginia. As our wedding reception drew to a close in the midday summer heat and we prepared to drive off to begin our married life in Austin, Texas, Alice’s mother took me aside and … Read more

Contraception: The Bitter Pill

Each month, to test our courage, my wife Lisa and I stand before an auditorium full of couples about to marry in the Catholic Church and explain to them the Church’s teachings about sexuality. The crowd is generally not happy to be there. Many are not Catholic and few, needless to say, want to hear … Read more

A Few Gratitudes

The center of our Faith is Eucharist. Eucharist means “thanksgiving.” That means that the center of our Faith is thanksgiving. It is in the form of a thanksgiving meal that our Lord chose to make Himself present to us. And He did so, shockingly, “on the night He was betrayed.” In other words, He defiantly … Read more

We’re Out and We’re Stout!

The reaction to my “coming out” as Jolly last week has been huge. It turns out that we are larger than we realized! (That’s Jolly in-joke humor. We can say things like that. If you say it, it’s oppressive, obesophobic hate speech, and I will have your butt in court faster than you can say … Read more

Love and Dogma

A certain gentleman I know told me that his young son is attending a private Catholic school that is run independently of the diocesan or religious order systems. He and his wife were evidently happy with the school: “It is a much more loving place, no Baltimore Catechism sort of thing.” Aside from the fact that … Read more

Bear Wrongs Patiently

Me assuming the task of writing about “bearing wrongs patiently” is like asking the Incredible Hulk for anger management counseling or seeking out Britney Spears for tips on marriage and child-rearing. I don’t bear wrongs very patiently. Why should I? Those people are wrong! They need to be set right! I’m only doing my Christian … Read more

‘You May Hope Anytime You Like’

As a deeply worried citizen of a country that justly deserves my love, I watched last night’s election results with a savage, manic glee. How satisfying it was to see the principled patriot Rand Paul crush the monied, establishment hacks, and to throw peanuts at the screen as the pro-abortion, warmongering lech Arlen Specter slinked … Read more

The Long Road to Civil Rights

Rising Road: A True Tale of Love, Race, and Religion in America Sharon Davies, Oxford University Press, 352 pages, $27.95 In 1954, Hugo Black joined his fellow Supreme Court justices in outlawing racial segregation in American schools in the unanimous, landmark decision, Brown v. Board of Education. There is, indeed, as Reinhold Niebuhr might put … Read more

Brokenness and Sin

A clergyman — an old friend, actually — remarked to me recently that he is inclined to view sin and hurt as synonymous. Such remarks arise, surely, from the wish to be compassionate. The idea would be that we mortals stagger along under such burdens and pains laid on us by heredity and environment that … Read more

A Speech on Beauty to Its Religious Despisers

This evening at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, I will be giving a lecture — “On Beauty: A Speech to Its Religious Despisers.” Just so you don’t think I am being rude, the title was approved, even encouraged, by my host, Prof. Karen Swallow Pryor, the chair of the English and Modern Languages Department. It … Read more

What movies best represent the seven virtues and the theological gifts? The Regina Coeli Academy in Philadelphia is putting together a list of recommended films for students. One of the founders, Barbara Henkels, asked me to put the word out for some recommendations, which I am delighted to do. Here is my preliminary list for the virtues: … Read more

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