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Another Theology of the Body, Part X--Avoiding the Trap of the Fertility Cult

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The word in Hebrew is "qedesha."  It comes from the root "q-d-sh," which has to do with things that are "holy" or "set apart," both in Hebrew and in Hebrew's cousin languages from around the Middle East.  Despite the positive connotations of the word, the Torah makes clear that one should not be a "qedesha," or its male form a "qedesh."  Indeed, Deuteronomy specifically forbids it.

Modern English Biblical translations render "qedesha" as "temple prostitute."  See Deuteronomy 23:17.  Such people were "set apart" for religious rituals by the cultures that surrounded the People of Israel, rituals which involved some form of sexual activity.  It appears that there is scholarly debate as to the nature of these rituals, and surely they varied from place to place within the ancient Near East and beyond.  As an example, the Greek historian Herodotus, in his Histories, describes at least one example …

Why I Love Christmas More Than Any Other Holiday

When I was a kid, every year we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas.  I love A Charlie Brown Christmas, and I always identified with Charlie Brown, which should have been a dead give-away that depression would be a feature of my life in the future.  Anyway, A Charlie Brown Christmas is about Charlie Brown trying to find the Christmas spirit.  To do this, he tries to put on a Christmas play, which of course goes spectacularly wrong.

In frustration, he yells out "isn't there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?"  At which point, Linus appears, and recites the Nativity story from the Gospel of Luke (King James version):
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Another Theology of the Body, Part IX--Sexuality, Purity, and Mary

The Gospel reading for this Sunday on the Fourth Sunday of Advent (assuming you attended a church that uses the Common Lectionary or one of its predecessors or derivatives--basically Catholics and most Mainline Protestants) is one of the most famous in the entirety of the Gospels--the Annunciation.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob fo…

Enterprise, Season One, Part 3--The Problem With Time-Travel Plots

Episodes
CivilizationFortunate SunCold FrontSilent EnemyShadows of P'Jem
One of the go-to plot points in Star Trek is time travel.  Of the twelve (12!) Star Trek movies, three of them featured time travel as a core plot point (if you are scoring at home--Star Trek IV [where Kirk et al. go to modern San Francisco to pick up a whale], Star Trek: First Contact [where Picard et al. go to about 100 years before Enterprise to fight the Borg and watch the meeting with the Vulcans], and the Abrams Star Trek reboot [where the bad guy, and Spock, go back in time to destroy/save Vulcan].

Despite the fact that those three movies are pretty good, I don't really like time travel plots very much.  I understand it is a trope of Star Trek, but like other Star Trek tropes (i.e., "the Holodeck episode"), it has big problems that are baked-into the concept of time travel as a storytelling device.  It's hard to care about the outcome, since any particular resolution is either ambiguo…

A Status Report

I decided to take a year--a Church year, from Pentecost to Pentecost--to figure out where I stood with Catholicism.  Or, to be more accurate, to figure out if this Episcopalian thing was going to be a thing.  Other events have provided additional impetus for the project.  I have been attending my local Episcopal Church almost exclusively.

I have noticed, over the last couple of weeks, a very strange and interesting experience.  During the week, doubts begin to creep in about what I am doing.  It would be much, much easier just to be Catholic.  Everyone understands--they know that most Catholics don't really believe in the crazy stuff like Humanae Vitae and kicking out elderly gay couples.  No one would hold it against me.

All of that goes until about 10:15 a.m., when I walk into the Episcopal Church.  Up to that point, including on the ride over, I am tempted to make a turn and go back to the old, familiar Catholic Church.  I walk in to a sparse crowd in an big old church, I sit …

Another Theology of the Body, Part VIII--Making Peace With Sexual Desire

Update:  After posting this article, I found a great article from Richard Beck that is well worth reading.

The most erotic part of the Bible, and it is not really close, is the Song of Songs.  Let's start from the beginning, where the woman says (Song of Songs 1:6):

My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!

It doesn't take a great deal of imagination to figure out what "my own vineyard" refers to (hint: it has nothing to do with grapes).  Keeping with the theme of the nether-regions, the woman goes on to say (1:12):

While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance.

Once again, you have to work really hard to come up an interpretation of "my nard" which "gave forth its fragrance" that doesn't involve a vagina.  Song of Songs continues on and on in this fashion, describing two people who are really, really attracted to one another having sex in a variety of loca…

Enterprise, Season One, Part 2--The Vulcan Are Dicks

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Episodes
UnexpectedTerra NovaThe Andorian IncidentBreaking the Ice
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Star Trek knows about Spock, the Vulcan (OK, to be pedantic, the half-Vulcan).  Spock, like all Vulcans, is all about logic, making him a little dense to certain kinds of normal human interactions.  Still, Spock is definitely a good guy and a relateable character.
Enterprise, at least so far, has really tried to deconstruct that idea, and explore the notion that a species based completely on logic would be kind of obnoxious, even dickish.  The best example of this so far is the episode "The Andorian Incident."  In the episode, Archer decides to pay a visit to a Vulcan monastery, in the hopes of doing some cultural diplomacy.  When he gets there, he, T'Pol, and Trip are taken prisoner by the Andorians, who have occupied the monastery.  If you're curious, the Andorians look like this:
The Andorian commander is convinced the Vulcans are using the monastery to spy on …

Big Changes Are Possible in a Short Time

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This story caught my eye.  It's a story about Ferguson and the Eric Garner story (for those not from the US--both are incidents involving the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of the police), and it has Russell Moore, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, calling for solidarity between white (and, really, people of all races) Christians and African-Americans.  “It’s time for us in Christian churches to not just talk about the gospel but live out the gospel by tearing down these dividing walls not only by learning and listening to one another but also by standing up and speaking out for one another,” Moore said.

I think Dr. Moore's statements are extremely positive, in two different ways.  First, they are positive on their own terms--he's right about the continuing need for serious reflection and change in the US with regard to race.  White, conservative churches, as those Dr. Moore speaks for, can play an incredibly…

Enterprise, Season 1, Part 1--Trying Out the New Car

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Episodes
Broken Bow, Parts I and II (the Pilot)Fight or FlightStrange New World Remember when you got your first car?  Not the car your parents may have let you drive, but the first car that was yours.  Prior to that, you had to abide by the limits placed on you by your parents--when you could drive, where you could go, who could be in the car with you.  All that ended when you got a car of your own.  Now you were free.  You could go where you wanted, when you wanted.  Even if the rules put on your by your parents were basically reasonable (mine certainly were) and you recognized that they had your best interests at heart, you couldn't wait to go out on your own, take road trips for no reason, see what was out there.

That's basically the plot of Enterprise.

Enterprise is set 100 years before the events of the Original Series, and 200 years before The Next Generation/Deep Space 9/Voyager.  One hundred years before the events of Enterprise, humans had their first contact with alie…

New Project--To Boldly Go

I have tried, with almost no success, to broaden the focus of this blog to include topics other than religion.  Don't get me wrong--I like talking about religion very much.  But I like a bunch of other things as well, and I want to have a more diverse set of topics to write about.  The question, of course, is what to write about.

In the last couple of months, I have been getting in closer touch with my inner nerd.  He has always been there, but for a while I have tried to keep him under wraps.  I am a serious person, and so I need to put that stuff aside, or at least keep it hidden.  Well, the hell with that--no one cares, least of all me.

But, here's the thing: there are major gaps in my nerd-dom.  The world of nerd-dom is basically binary--one is either a Star Wars person, or a Star Trek person.  I always viewed myself as a Star Trek person, but the truth is that I am a faux-Star Trek person because I haven't watched much of the prodigious Star Trek corpus.  There have b…

Two Points re: Douthat and Martin

I've talked before about Ross Douthat's recent comments about the Synod on the Family.  Recently, he and James Martin, S.J., had what I thought was a very thoughtful and interesting exchange that was reproduced in America Magazine (hat tip to Fr. Justin for sending it my way).  It is very much worth reading.  A couple of things struck me in reading this exchange--threads running through the conversation that are unspoken, but informing what is being said.

The first involves the idea that the Catholic Church holds marriage to be inviolable.  Certainly, that is the official position--marriage is for life and cannot be dissolved--and the need to protect that principle is at the heart of Douthat's objections to the Synod.  On the other hand, everyone understands that there is a way for one to "get out from underneath" a first marriage and enter into a second one with the full blessing of the Church, and that way is an annulment.  Now, I understand that an annulment t…

The Fantasy of the Past Has to End

I wasn't going to talk about the Vatican's "Complementarity" shindig for a second time in two days, but I saw a quote that I just had to talk about.  It comes out of the mouth of Russell Moore, the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Dr. Moore was a speaker at the Vatican conference, and he attempted to make the case that we have it all wrong.  Traditional Christian morality is not about patriarchy.  Instead, patriarchy is the product of that terrible, unfathomable evil--THE.SEXUAL.REVOLUTION.

Here's how Dr. Moore says it:

The Southern Baptist ethicist said the sexual revolution appeared to have imposed a new patriarchy that enabled men to "pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha male" for the pursuit of "power, prestige and personal pleasure."

Just in case you missed that, Dr. Moore is asserting that the "Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha male" who seeks "…

Another Theology of the Body, Part VII--Complementarity: Useful Concept?

As we speak, the Vatican is finishing up a conference on the concept of complementarity between men and women.  Complementarity is a buzz word that is used often, especially in Evangelical circles, to contrast a "Christian" view of gender relationships with the view of gender that is present in Western culture (which the Vatican has taken to referring to as "gender ideology").  "Complementarity" emphasizes the fact that men and women are different, and that these differences need to be respected and incorporated into our understanding of gender and sexuality.

It is an incontrovertible biological fact that men and women are different.  Indeed, my last post was all about how the physical differences between men and women need to be a basis for theological reflection.  It is an equally incontrovertible fact that men and women have much in common, and are more similar than they are different--we are obviously not different species.  And, if you believe in a C…

I'm Not Saying...

[Edit:  A less charitable, but very much worth reading take, can be found here.]

Cardinal Sean O'Malley sat down for an extended interview with Norah O'Donnell of 60 Minutes, which was shown last Sunday.  Never say never (after all, there are people who don't like ice cream), but it seems impossible to me that you could come away from that interview with a negative opinion of "Cardinal Sean" (as he prefers to be called).  He came across as funny, charming, kind, and very, very candid.  He admitted that he was "terrified" being sent to the toxic waste dump that was the Archdiocese of Boston in 2003, despite having already served two tours as the clean-up guy in dioceses decimated by sex abuse scandals (Fall River, Massachusetts and Palm Beach, Florida).  He was unabashed in his enthusiasm for his friend Pope Francis.  He more or less said that Bishop Finn of Kansas City, who has been convicted of failing to report/covering up for an abusive priest, needs…

Another Theology of the Body, Part VI--A Theological Exploration of the Clitoris

I was introduced to The Body's Grace by Frank from Letters to the Catholic Right in this post, where he quotes Williams saying:

It puts the question which is also raised for some kinds of moralist by the existence of the clitoris in women; something whose function is joy. If the creator were quite so instrumentalist in ‘his’ attitude to sexuality, these hints of prodigality and redundancy in the way the whole thing works might cause us to worry about whether he was, after all, in full rational control of it. But if God made us for joy…?

I want to talk about the first part of that quote here, regarding the clitoris.  I am not aware of any theology that has been done on the clitoris, but there should be.  As Williams alludes to, the existence and nature of the clitoris is a theological "problem," especially if you want to hold on to traditional Christian sexual morality.  It is especially problematic if you want to hold that sexuality needs to be understood through the lens…

Another Theology of the Body, Part V--Equality as a Theological Precondition to Sexual Morality

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At the heart of traditional Christian sexual morality is a fundamental disconnect.  On the one hand, you see St. Paul saying things like this:

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.  (1 Cor. 7:3-4).

This passage, one of the few that deals directly with the morality of sexual relationships between husband and wife, point to a fundamental, even radical, equality between men and women.  A woman has the same amount and type of authority over her husband as her husband has over her.  As a practical matter, since sex requires the participation of both parties, this means that a married couple has equal "bargaining power" as they negotiate their sexual lives.  Or, more accurately, they should have equal bargaining power in the relationship.

On the other hand, it appears…

A Quick Comment on Douthat

Again, I continue to give Ross Douthat enormous credit for his honesty, particularly in this post from last week.  In it, he basically cops to the notion that he is a Catholic because of the Politics of Certainty.  As a former devotee of that school of thought, I understand very well the attraction of that view, and I will never throw stones at someone else for it.

Instead, I would like to focus on the extended quote from Richard John Neuhaus.  The short version of the quote is that if you "go soft" on the social issues of the day, then it is essentially inevitable that you will give up on traditional liturgical and sacramental practices.  In other words, the Politics of Certainty is the only bulwark against the devolution of Christianity into an undifferentiated mass of feel-good pablum.  And the example of this phenomenon is the so-called Mainline Protestant churches, who don't really believe in anything.

I used to believe this as well . . . until I started going to a …

Another Theology of the Body, Part IV--What Sexual Morality is Not

I've been struggling with this post for a while now, having a hard time making the pieces of what I want to say fit together in a cohesive manner.  I was thinking of abandoning the project.  But then, I got bailed out, because I read a post that showed me a critical pre-requisite to talking about sexual morality--first, drop the "sexual" part.

This post, by Fred Clark on his Slacktivist blog, makes a point that should be obvious but seems to me to be completely lost--sexual morality simply means "morality applied to situations involving sex."  It is not some wholly distinct sphere of moral inquiry that is untethered from other kinds of situations.  As such, you should be able to apply the same basic moral principles that are used to evaluate, say, non-sexual relationships, to sexual relationships.  To use Clark's example, if "do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God" (Micah 6:8) is the touchstone for all of your other relationships, then that s…

Let's Get Everything on the Table

So, Ross Douthat, predictably, expressed his views on the Synod on the Family in the pages of the New York Times Sunday editorial page yesterday.  I like Douthat, even though I don't agree with many, many of the things he says, and this piece was a good example of what I like about him.  In this piece, Douthat says what has been apparent for a while, but no one has been willing to actually admit/threaten---the conservative/traditional wing of Catholicism (i.e. Cardinal Burke, EWTN, Douthat, etc.) are not going to stand for a return to status quo pre-John Paul II, and they are prepared to walk, or at least consider walking, if that looks like Pope Francis (or whomever) is actually going to push things in that direction.

To understand the Douthat piece, it's important to understand the theology of history used by conservative, EWTN-style Catholics to understand the last 50 years of Catholicism.  It goes something like this.  In the beginning, there was the pre-Vatican II Church,…

Another Theology of the Body, Part III--The Dangers of "Loving" in the Abstract

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At some point, I will get to talking about specific moral rules, but I wanted to take a quick detour to talk about one consequence of Rowan Williams's framing of love (including sexual love) in terms of vulnerability.  Looking at love this way takes it out of the abstract and grounds it firmly in the personal and the concrete.

As discussed in the last post, the act of being vulnerable, of showing another person who I am in an unfiltered way, can be thought of as the engine that powers the "good stuff" about love.  If the other person doesn't see me as I am, and I in turn don't see them as they really are, I will be skeptical of the love I am receiving in return.  That "breaks the spell" and short-circuits the power of the experience of being loved.

This experience of vulnerability does not necessarily have to be binary, especially if you zoom out from a strict focus on sex.  For example, I come from a family of six people (now seven, with the addition …

A Small Milestone

When I started this blog, I really didn't expect anyone to read it.  I was more like a personal journal that happened to be available for other folks to look at.  Maybe a couple of my friends would come by and check out what I was doing, but that would be it.
This morning when I logged in, I saw that I now have 10,000 page views.  I have no idea how that relates to other blogs, or even how that is counted, and I really don't care.  It seems like an enormous number to me.  It is far, far more than I ever expected to get in 20 years, let alone around 1 year.  It is profoundly humbling, and I am very grateful to everyone who has read, commented, and given me feed back.  Thank you.
Special thanks to Jason (the official twitter PR guy for the blog), Gene, Neil and Erin, as well as Frank from Letters to the Catholic Right.  You folks are awesome.

Equal Time, of an Unfortunate Sort

St. Gregory of Nyssa is one of the true heavy-weights of early Christian theology.  He, along with the other Cappadocian fathers (St. Basil of Caesaria and St. Gregory of Nazianzus), defined theology, and particularly the theology of the Trinity, in the period immediately after the Council of Nicaea in the early 4th Century.  It doesn't get any more rock solid than St. Gregory.

St. Gregory wrote a book called The Life of Moses, in which he reflects on the stories of Exodus and the rest of the Torah.  In doing so, he deals with the climax of the plagues that God has sent to Egypt--the killing of the first-born sons.  Here's what he says:

It does not seem good to me to pass this interpretation by without further contemplation. How would a concept worthy of God be preserved in the description of what happened if one looked only to the history? The Egyptian acts unjustly, and in his place is punished his newborn child, who in his infancy cannot discern what is good and what is not.…

The Politics of Certainty Triumph Again

The preliminary relatio (emphasis mine):
50.  Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing [...] them [...] a place of fellowship in our communities? Oftentimes, they want to encounter a Church which offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

     51.        The question of homosexuality requires serious reflection on how to devise realistic approaches to affective growth, human development and maturation in the Gospel,  while integrating the sexual aspect, all of which constitute an important educative challenge. Moreover, the Church affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same level as marriage between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that the pastor’s outlook be pressured or that international bodies make financial aid…

We All Might Be Wrong

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Despite the fact that this is my third post in a week about the Synod on the Family, I find that I am not all that engaged in what is going on in Rome.  I don't really care one way or the other.  Part of that is that I am skeptical anything of substance coming out of this Synod, but my ennui is much deeper than that.  It's taken me a while to figure out what has been turning me off to the Synod, but I think I have figured it out.  And, like all good insights, it came to me in an unexpected place--listening to the radio driving home yesterday.

When I get bored with the stations on my satellite radio in the car, I often find myself turning to EWTN radio.  It's kind of like picking at a scab--I know I shouldn't do it, but I can't help myself.  Anyway, the topic was pornography, and they had a bishop on talking about some document he had recently written about the topic.  I am sure this will come as no surprise, but the bishop took the position that pornography viewin…

What Exactly Is the Nature of the "Crisis" in the Family?

For those readers not living in the United States and/or are not sports fans, allow me to tell the stories of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

Ray Rice is a professional American football player, playing (until recently) a high-profile position (running back) for a team that two years ago won the Super Bowl.  He was not a super-star, but he was a star.  And, he was generally seen as one of the "good guys"--a stand-up figure who did good things in the community.

This summer, a video surfaced from a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  In the video, Rice was seen dragging the unconscious body of his girlfriend (now wife, BTW) out of an elevator.  In the wake of the video, there was a great deal of public conversation, inside the sports world and outside of it, regarding the proper punishment for Rice.  He initially got a 2 game suspension, until a second video emerged, this time from inside the elevator, that showed Rice cold-cocking his girlfriend and then appearing to look fo…

Updates from the Synod

After all of the strum und drang, we finally have some concrete product from the Synod on the Family being held at the Vatican.  Released this morning, the document is essentially a summary or survey of the comments that various speakers have given.  It is the most preliminary of preliminary documents, so I think it is a mistake to put too much weight on it.  Nevertheless, it is notable on a couple of levels.

First, it represents a significant change in tone from the preparatory document that was produced by Vatican insiders prior to the Synod.  There is still a great deal of talk about how modern culture is terrible and the Church needs to evangelize that culture to save it from itself, but there is also talk about how the Church needs to listen to people and try to find where God is working in their life.  Indeed, the very first section of the document was about listening.  One might dismiss this listening talk as pro forma, and maybe that's right, but at least it is encouraging…

Another Theology of the Body Part II--The Importance of Vulnerability

The biggest criticism of "progressive" Christians regarding sex, especially by more conservative folks, is that their position is entirely negative.  Progressive Christians may be very clear in articulating the laundry list of sexual mores that they don't agree with, but often are very vague about what mores and rules they do agree with.  As a result, Progressive Christians end up defaulting to the sexual ideas of the broader culture, which are, at best, incoherent in many ways.

I think this criticism is basically a fair one.  It is not enough to say that you reject what has come before--you need to articulate a positive program to replace it.  Moreover, I think Christianity has important things to say about sexuality and sexual morality, and I am unwilling to cede the field to the broader secular culture.  Since questions of sexuality have become so central to our dialogue both in the Christian church and in the broader culture, if progressive Christians want to partici…

Another Theology of the Body, Part I

In my previous post, I listed as #9 of my ten beliefs the idea that there is something fundamentally broken about the way that Christianity has approached questions of sex and gender.  In the next couple of posts, I want to unpack that idea a bit and work through some of my thoughts and reflections on this topic.

Rachel Held Evans is hosting on her blog an extended conversation about Matthew Vines's book God and the Gay Christian.  This book has been more or less the book of the year in Christian circles, both progressive and conservative.  As a quick summary, Vines was raised in a conservative Evangelical household, and during the course of his time at Harvard he realized and came to accept the idea that he was gay.  The book is in many ways a journal of his personal journey to reconcile his faith and his orientation--there are extended reflections on Biblical verses dealing with (or, purported to deal with) homosexuality, but also a discussion of his relationship with his parent…

The Time Has Come

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I am going to warn you ahead of time--I am about to show you a picture of what, according to many, is an example of the most dangerous people in our society.  A Catholic bishop recently said that "standing firm" against these folks "makes an irreplaceable contribution to the common good of society."  So, this is serious.  Are you ready?

Pop Culture Monday--In Honor of My Brother

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My brother's birthday is today.  In his honor, here are two videos from one of his favorite bands, who also played what were probably their last shows together this weekend in Atlanta.  Plus, there is never a bad time for Outkast.





Happy Birthday, Jim.  Love you, brother.

Bonus content:  My favorite Outkast song.


Ah, Father Z

In every community, you are going to have the folks on the right-hand side of the spectrum.  These are the people who don't want anything to change, ever, and have little time for folks that maybe want to consider tweaking some stuff.  They exist in all institutions, from government to Star Wars fandom.  It is important to have folks like this, because they act as a break on the equal and opposite tendency to blow everything up and re-invent the wheel at every turn.  So, traditionalists are not a bad thing, at least not per se.

I say this as a preface, because I don't want anyone to get the idea that I am picking on traditionalist Catholics, or taking the position that they are illegitimate.  I don't believe that.  I do think, however, that traditionalist Catholics make themselves an easy target.  Moreso than many traditionalist sides, traditionalist Catholics seem to be operating in a world that they have created for themselves, one that is at times only tangentially rela…

Back to Basics

I haven't written anything in a while for this blog.  Part of that involves outside commitments--work has been busy in the last few weeks. But it is mostly a function of not having much to say.  Or, rather, having lots of bits and pieces of things to say, without being able to string them together into a complete thought.  If you were to check out the internal dashboard for this blog, you will see a dozen or so drafts of posts, drafts that I am pretty confident I will never finish.  It's just not been happening for me of late.

I think a big part of this chaos is a mirror of what is going on for me personally, particularly with regard to religion.  I've gotten myself into a rut, and I am not sure how to get out of it.  The rut, basically, is that I am not sure where I belong in terms of my religious faith.  I no longer feel at home as a Catholic in the Catholic Church, particularly on the macro scale of the institutional Church (as opposed to, say, the local parish level). …

A Post-Script on the Importance of Sports

I didn't intend to write about sports twice in one week, but it has been forced upon me.  I have thought for a while now that Every Day Should Be Saturday may be the best blog on the Internet.  On one level, it is a blog about college football, but on the other hand it is a Proustian reflection on the meaning of life.  The primary author/founder Spencer Hall is an unbelievably good writer, and his piece today is one of the most beautiful I have ever read.  Seriously, go read it and then come back.

I can't write like he can, but his piece triggered two thoughts about college football.  The first has to do with my father.  Some of my earliest memories of him involve Penn State football.  He loved Penn State, and he loved Joe Paterno.  More importantly, he believed in Joe Paterno, the person.  In 1987, Penn State played Miami in the National Championship Game.  Penn State were the good guys, and Miami were the bad guys.  Miami was a much, much better team, but Penn State found a …