Showing posts from December, 2013

Another Worshiper at the Temple of The Market

Lest one thinks that the worshipers of The Market exist only on CNBC and on Wall Street, here's a devotee from liberal San Francisco.  This individual finds it objectionable that he has to come in contact with homeless people on a regular basis, and is offended that they don't "view themselves as guests" in the "civilized" areas of town, i.e. the parts he lives and works in.

This dude apologized (in classic politician fashion, but nonetheless he apologized), but his friends of Facebook chimed in to cheer on his original thoughts.

Notice the last line of his screed:  "Believe me, if they added the smallest iota of value I'd consider thinking different. . . ."  That's the heart of it right there.  Value to whom?  Value to this guy?  How does one define value?  Certainly not in terms of some inherent human value, that much seems pretty clear.  No, he means economic value.  To what extent is this particular homeless man or woman offering the a…

A Prayer

In the last couple of months, I have stumbled upon the Northumbria Community, an ecumenical group that seeks to recover some elements of Celtic spirituality, particularly those stemming from the famous monastery of Lindisfarne Island (source of the famous, and stunning, Lindisfarne Gospels).  Their Celtic Daily Prayer book is a wonderful resource, and I have been praying it for the last three weeks or so with much good fruit.

I am deeply impressed with the Northumbria Community and its spirituality.  I takes seriously the Celtic legacy while being clearly focused on the Christian message--as opposed to drifting off into historically-dubious fantasies or quasi-paganism.  It also balances a look to the past with a perspective on the here-and-now.

In any event, here is my favorite prayer from Celtic Daily Prayer, taken from the Evening Office.

Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;

Voices Crying Out in the Wilderness

Everyone has a religion.  Oh sure, they may not call it a religion.  They might call it a philosophy, or a cause, or a political program.  But, at the end of the day, it is a religion.  It has a set of ideas that are at the heart of how that person views the world.  It has a set of beliefs about what is right and what is wrong.  It has saints and sinners.  It is functionally no different from Judaism, or Christianity, or Buddhism, or whatever.

There is a religion that is very popular in America (and other places, but particularly in America) that, until recently, has flown under the radar as being a religion.  Partially, this is by design--it cloaks itself in other forms that make it hard to discern its true identity.  It is ensconced in university departments and professional schools, where is portrays itself as a "social science"--as if it is simply describing the objective realities of the world, as opposed to advancing a particular vision of the world-as-it-should-be.  O…

Thinking Realistically About Celibacy

Bill Keller of the New York Times, who has been something of an agent provocateur with regard to Catholicism, wrote a column in the Sunday Times about priestly celibacy.  In it, he more or less calls for it to go away.  James Martin, S.J., responded strongly in America magazine in defense of celibacy.  Both pieces are very much worth reading, and I won't rehash them here.  Instead, I'll give my take.  The short version---as much as I like and respect Martin, I think Keller is right.

I suppose I should say first that I am potentially biased here, as I left the Dominicans in part (though not exclusively) because I realized that I did not want to make a lifetime commitment to celibacy.  If I thought celibacy was awesome (at least for me), I very well might still be there.  Nevertheless, contra Martin's critique of Keller, I lived with and observed closely many celibate people, so I feel like I have some leg to stand on beyond my own, singular experience.

Anyway, here's th…

Saint Brigid, Women's Ordination, and Pope Francis

Despite the many things that Pope Francis made clear he was open to in his recent exhortation, he made it equally clear he was not open to the notion of women's ordination.  But he said other things on the topic as well:

The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion, but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general. . . .  Its key and axis is not power understood as domination, but the power to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist; this is the origin of its authority, which is always a service to God’s people. This presents a great challenge for pastors and theologians, who are in a position to recognize more fully what this entails with regard to the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church’s life.  (Para. 104)

This, to me, gets to the real engine that drives the debate on wome…