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Showing posts from March, 2014

Natural Law, Part I: Dissing Science--It's Not Just for Evangelicals

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I wouldn't describe myself as coming from a particularly "science-y" family, but we were certainly exposed to science and encouraged to view it in a positive light.  When I was young, I got really into astronomy, and my parents certainly encouraged that.  I remember that they let me go to a "backward astronomy" course on a Saturday morning, where we looked at sunspots through a telescope and talked about how to find constellations in the night sky.  Viewing conditions in central New Jersey will never be mistaken for the top of a mountain in the Arizona desert, but at one point I was pretty good at picking out specific stars, and I think my parents let themselves get dragged outside in the cold to look at stars with me.

The other area of science that I loved as a kid (like many kids, I suspect) was dinosaurs.  My mother took my brother and I to the Museum of Natural History in New York City to look at the dinosaurs, and we had numerous books about the various ty…

Movie Review/Reflection--Noah

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The weather here is horrible--high 30s, rain, turning to snow (!) this evening.  A perfect day to go see Noah, the latest epic from Darren Aronofsky, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly et al.  

Before I get to my thoughts on the movie, two disclaimers.  First, to talk about the stuff I want to talk about, I have to include spoilers.  That may seem like a ridiculous concept for a movie like Noah--doesn't Genesis "spoil" the story already?  But the movie includes elements that go beyond the Biblical text.  According to interviews with Aronofsky, he drew on Jewish midrash and other non-canonical sources (such as the Book of Enoch) in writing the screenplay.  I am not familar enough with the Jewish source material to be entirely sure which stuff is from Jewish sources and what is Aronofsky's own creation, but in any event this new material is some of the most interesting parts of the film.  To talk about it, I have to spoil it, so fair warning to readers.

Second, I am an …

Apologies---Technical Difficulties

Blogger apparently ate my last post, or I did something to make it go away.  I am trying to recover it, but I don't want anyone to think I am withdrawing what I said in the post anything--it just went away, and all that is left is an early draft.

Sometimes the Truth Hurts

Last night, I stumbled upon a blog entitled "Questions from an Ewe," It is written by a Catholic woman with a theological education, and it hits the sweet spot of knowledge, insight, and righteous snark.  It's great.

The best post by far that I saw on her site (I haven't looked at all of them) is the one where she provides her responses to the Vatican survey questions that were circulated a few months ago.  As the kids say, she puts Church officials on blast.  The highlights:

Q: How successful have you been in proposing a manner of praying within the family which can withstand life’s complexities and today’s culture?

A: Very successful.  I am the primary educator of my children in their faith.  They are all grown and in their 20s, attending weekly if not daily Mass, working in ad intra and ad extra ministries.  They are champions of social justice and advocate for the marginalized.  They speak truth to power. 

I kept them away from superficial Jesus rah-rah pep rallies,…

How Not to Engage in the New Evangelization

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One of the buzzwords that came out of the Benedict XVI era was the phrase "the New Evangelization."  While something of an amorphous concept, the core of the idea was to try to find new ways to encourage adults to come into the Catholic Church, with a marked emphasis on bringing back former or estranged Catholics.  This is a laudable goal, and I have seen it bear good fruits, particularly in the form of the excellent Landings program that I was involved with at my former parish in San Francisco.  The core insight of the Landings program is that people who have stopped practicing Catholicism want to have someone listen to why they have left, and so the program tries to create safe space for people to tell their stories.  In telling their stories in a group format, where the group contains a mix of people who practicing and not practicing, people are given a proper hearing and encouraged to understand that they are not alone in their struggles with the faith, whatever those st…

Cosmos and the Wonder of Creation

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I was not familiar with Giordano Bruno until I watched the first episode of the remake (re-imagining?) of Cosmos last night.  Bruno was a late 16th Century Dominican who experienced a vision of the universe as an infinite collection of infinite suns, each with worlds like our own orbiting those suns.  He also seems to have been interested in more esoteric ideas that we would now consider to be part of New Age or occult thinking (for which he was certainly not alone among his contemporaries).  I found this unsourced article suggesting that his famous scientific contemporaries, such as Galileo and Kepler, thought he was a bit of an embarrassment.  Eventually he was burned at the stake for his ideas--probably his belief in an infinite, heliocentric world, though it is not entirely clear.

Cosmos spent a good portion of the episode last night holding him up as an example of an expansive vision of the universe, one that has been proven to be true in due course.  It made pains to point out t…