Taking Special Vows in Theology

To say that we evangelicals haven’t always engaged in respectful dialogue with folks representing other perspectives is to put it mildly. But there are clear signs that things are improving, in at least some parts of the evangelical world. The presence of many evangelical voices as a part of the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Road to Nostra Aetate

Of all the documents of Vatican II, few have been more discussed and written about than Nostra Aetate. The official text, the shortest of the council’s documents, is only five paragraphs long, containing forty-one sentences. The fourth paragraph, on the Church’s relationship with the Jewish . . . . Continue Reading »

Statting While Catholic

As a Catholic statistician, I tend to read any story headlined with “Surveys say Catholics . . .” ready to flinch. Robert Wuthnow and Emma Green have both raised serious questions about how much religion polls can tell us, and how easy they are to misinterpret.Since I work as a data journalist . . . . Continue Reading »

Enlightenment Bible, Church Bible

The following is taken from a paper that was delivered at a conference sponsored by the Center for Pastor Theologians on November 3.In his 2005 book, The Enlightenment Bible, Jonathan Sheehan describes changes in the Bible’s role in Germany and England between the late seventeenth and . . . . Continue Reading »

What Comes After the Synod

Whatever Pope Francis does in the wake of the Synod on the Family, we have a new Humanae Vitae moment on our hands. Decades of relentless infighting over what exactly the Church teaches is on the horizon and will negatively affect the priesthood, religious life, religious institutions, parishes, . . . . Continue Reading »

Divorce and Communion

There were only two occasions in my life as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) that required disciplinary ministry with a church member. One was gossip; the other was sex. The first didn’t get beyond private admonition by the pastor, me. That’s what the pastor does in . . . . Continue Reading »

Deadly Progressivism

We’re in the midst of a crisis. The New York Times reports that Angus Deaton and Ann Case, two Princeton economists, have identified increases in suicide and drug and alcohol related deaths among high school educated white Americas as the cause for a remarkable spike in the overall death rate for . . . . Continue Reading »

The Speaker and the Social Doctrine

TRIGGER WARNING: This column will speak well of Paul Ryan, the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, and compare him favorably to two liberal icons. Over forty years of teaching and writing about Catholic social doctrine, I’ve gotten to know three men who had the opportunity to embody the . . . . Continue Reading »

Charity or Philanthropy?

The Philanthropic Revolution: An Alternative History of American Charity  by jeremy beeruniversity of pennsylvania, 134 pages, $19.95 As I sat on the subway car reading Jeremy Beer’s new book The Philanthropic Revolution: An Alternative History of American Charity, a homeless man entered the . . . . Continue Reading »

Thin Places

Several years ago, my son Christian and I, along with our friend David from Brazil, made a pilgrimage to Skellig Michael. Skellig is the Irish word for “rock,” and Skellig Michael is a rocky mountain island jutting 700 feet out of the icy waters of the North Atlantic, just off the coast of County Kerry in western Ireland.