Eucharistic meditation, Second Advent

Matthew 1:24-2:1: And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called his name Jesus. Now . . . Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king. By his very . . . . Continue Reading »

Exhortation, Second Advent

Joseph is often a neglected character in the Christmas story. In paintings and crèches, he politely stands to the side so that the Madonna and child can be at the focal point. In medieval mystery plays, he was often a comic character, a doddering old man more marginal even than the shepherds . . . . Continue Reading »

Myself In the Gaze of Another

This is not a paper, and that is not an ironic self-referential comment like Magritte’s Ceci n’est pas une pipe . This really is not a paper. It is a gesture toward a paper, a collection of fragments and notes. There is a goal here, a telos and trajectory: These pages contain bits and . . . . Continue Reading »

Mediated fellowship

1 John 1:1-3 describes how those who never saw, heard, or handled the incarnate word of life can come to have fellowship with the Father through Jesus. First, the apostles (“we”) witnessed the Word in flesh directly. Second, they proclaim that testimony. Third, through believing their . . . . Continue Reading »

Feast of Booths

John Kleinig suggests that Luke’s account of the Transfiguration alludes to the feast of booths: Luke “alone of the Gospel writers relates that the transfiguration occurred on the eighth day after Peter’s confession of faith (Lk 9:28). The transfiguration was the epiphany of Jesus . . . . Continue Reading »

Modern heroism

Zygmunt Bauman, in the book mentioned above, traces the shifts in Western cultural imagination from the ancient hero through the Christian martyr, to the revival of the ancient heroic ideal in the early modern period, to our current cult of celebrity. According to Bauman, the modern hero was born . . . . Continue Reading »


An etymology of “conservative” from the online Dictionary of the History of Ideas ( In Latin conservare means to protect, preserve, save; the noun of agency, conservator, appears as a synonym for the substantives custos, servator. Just as . . . . Continue Reading »

Modern sacralization

Still on Bauman: “In most of its descriptions, modernity is presented as a time of secularization (‘everything sacred was profaned,’ as young Marx and Engels memorably put it) and disenchantment. What is less often mentioned, however, though it should be, is that modernity also . . . . Continue Reading »

Desire and resistance

More on Bauman, since that last post was getting too long: Consumerism, we (especially Christians) tend to think, is driven by desire; if so, perhaps the solution is to limit or suppress desire. Bauman points out that the goal of consumer economies is to render desires irrelevant to consumption. . . . . Continue Reading »


In his pungent recent book, Liquid Life (Polity, 2005), the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman describes the divergence between the “teaching” and the “taught” classes within the global economy. What he calls the “knowledge classes” are experts at seeking and . . . . Continue Reading »