InterVarsity Christian Ministry in Trouble for Acting Christian

To protect against discrimination, liberals increasingly seek to discriminate. News broke over the weekend that all twenty-three schools within the California State University system have taken steps to “derecognize” InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), a para-church Christian ministry organization that’s had a longstanding presence within university life religious settings. Continue Reading »

Silence and Solidarity

Many colleges and universities open the new academic year with a special assembly or convocation that is generally an upbeat occasion of welcome and new beginnings. The Catholic University of America held such an event several days ago, and it included, appropriately enough, a beautiful mass led by Washington’s Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl. The music was sublime and the liturgy well ordered. Dr. John Garvey, the president of CUA, was presented with an award by the Archdiocese of Washington. It was an altogether appropriate and uplifting event. But just before the dismissal, the tone was changed as Cardinal Wuerl, speaking without notes, delivered this admonition with a sense of urgency: Continue Reading »

Take Me to Church

Dear Hozier: Your overtly theological song titles lured me in. “From Eden”? “Take Me To Church”? Once I read some of your anti-Church comments, I girded my theological loins for a smackdown; I didn’t want to like you. But, as it turns out, I think you’re really good. Your sound is hypnotic, many of your lyrics poetic (comparatively speaking). I like the fusion of blues, jazz, pop, and gospel. There is a pulse and a crackling sparseness and a dark beauty to many of your songs. I’ve had your album on repeat on Spotify for the past week, despite myself. You’ve stirred my lingering desire to become a singer-songwriter—nearly enough for me to pick up my guitar. Continue Reading »

Between Sweetness and Nausea

A few years ago I learned a new word. I wonder if you know it—ecotone? An ecotone is where two ecospheres come together—where they meet and merge into one another. The Mississippi River flowing into the Gulf of Mexico—that is an ecotone. Or imagine flying over the plains out West, and then you look up and there are the Rocky Mountains. Where the plains meet the mountains, where the current meets the tide—that is an ecotone. An ecotone is always a place that is fragile, unstable, shifting, fluid, risky, filled with danger and yet, at the same time Continue Reading »

In the Wake of Heroic Theology

In 1997 Avery Dulles was asked by Commonweal magazine to respond to a disputed question: “How Catholic is the Catholic Theological Society of America?” The impetus was Cardinal Bernard Law’s charge that the CTSA, the largest and most prestigious association of Catholic theologians in the United States, had become little more than a “wasteland” of dissent against official Church teachings. Continue Reading »

Dante’s Heavenly Idealism

The great French historian Jacques Le Goff credited Dante with doing more than any theologian to make purgatory a meaningful part of Christian tradition, and, more recently, Jon M. Sweeney has argued that Dante practically invented the modern idea of hell. Whatever the merits of these claims, I would like to suggest that Dante exercised a similar influence on the Christian understanding of heaven—and that this influence is not what Dante’s many modern devotees might suspect. Continue Reading »

Mary’s Most Loyal Children

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a solemn feast day and a holy day of obligation that we celebrate each year on August 15th, is the Church’s most ancient Marian feast. Christians living in Jerusalem celebrated the “dormition of Mary” (Mary’s going to sleep) from at least the third century—gathering in Palestine to remember the Mother of God, and to honor her as queen of heaven and earth. Continue Reading »

Reading Soloveitchik

The occasion of my first encounter with the theology of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik was a reading group at my wife’s synagogue. We were then living in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Elihu Milder, the rabbi then serving at Tifereth Israel, organized a group to discuss Soloveitchik’s spiritual classic, Halakhic Man. Continue Reading »

Pushy Pilgrims

I was bemused—also mildly bruised—by the violent elbowing and shoving of my fellow pilgrims as we approached what are arguably the holiest sites in all of Christendom.