My Year in Reading

From Web Exclusives

Every December since my college days a few friends and I have started an email thread to swap stories of our reading experiences over the course of that year. We follow a typical top-ten format, often mimicking the two or three-sentence recap style of similar lists that appear increasingly early, like the post-Halloween Christmas marketing blitz they augment, in periodicals and websites. But we go deeper than that, too, trying to discern patterns in our interests and correlating our reports with what we’d enjoyed or endured outside the pages of books in the intervening months. Continue Reading »

The Way God Conducts Us

From Web Exclusives

At an academic conference not too long ago, I delivered a paper on St. Paul’s view of marriage and celibacy. In my paper, I took Paul’s side, extolling his vision of marriage and celibacy as interlocking, mutually reinforcing Christian vocations. On the one hand, I said, marriage can be a melody hummed by any pedestrian Christian couple that still calls to mind the full grandeur of the symphony of Christ’s love for the Church. Likewise, the Christian celibate can bear witness to that same love. By giving up the solace of an earthly spouse and the prospect of birthing heirs, the celibate gestures with her very body to a future time when “they neither marry nor are given in marriage . . . because they are equal to angels” (Luke 20:35, 36). Continue Reading »

To Substitute Another Thirst

From Web Exclusives

If there’s one theological commitment that unites both sides of the same-sex marriage debate, it’s semi-Pelagianism. Taking its name from the fourth-century monk Pelagius, semi-Pelagianism may be thought of as a theological mood or a set of impulses that’s opposed to a strong doctrine of original sin. Fearing that talk of our broken wills may hamper moral striving, the semi-Pelagian stresses perfectibility as a motive for action. Continue Reading »

Dating Books

From the June/July 2014 Print Edition

One of the pleasures of recording on the inside cover of a book the date you finished reading it—I’ve been doing that now for over a decade—is that, when you return to it, you can instantly imagine yourself back in time. When I recently opened Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, for . . . . Continue Reading »

Faith’s Desire

From the June/July 2014 Print Edition

I recently took part in a conversation among some young theologians and ethical thinkers, most of them Catholic, many of them gay or same-sex attracted. We found ourselves talking about the shelter the Catholic Church provided in Victorian England to many homosexual people. In a culture suspicious . . . . Continue Reading »