A Monastic Vice for the Internet Age

The Italian author Umberto Eco belonged to a rare breed—a medievalist of encyclopedic erudition, a creative philosopher and a talented novelist. Prompted by his recent death, Eco’s first novel, The Name of the Rose, has resurfaced in bookstands everywhere. The novel is a murder mystery set in an . . . . Continue Reading »

“Options” for Cultural Engagement

For Evangelicals, debates about Christian cultural engagement largely occur within Richard Niebuhr’s “Christ and culture” rubric, which calls into question most forms of institutional Christianity on the one hand and pietistic Christianity on the other hand. There are serious problems with Niebuhr’s formulation, which is why the current debate about the Benedict or Dominican options offers an interesting alternative in its appeal to religious orders as a lens for cultural engagement. Continue Reading »

The Dominican Option

There’s been a long conversation in America about the degree to which Catholic Christianity is compatible with liberalism. From the beginning of the American founding, bishops and theologians claimed that for all the flaws of liberal political philosophy, the American founders “built better than they knew.” And yet Pope Leo XIII could warn Cardinal Gibbons to avoid the errors of an “Americanism,” which would distort the teaching of the Church on the proper relationship between politics and the church. Continue Reading »

Two Holidays, Two Reformations

While the broader culture celebrates Halloween at the end of this month, many Protestants will focus on Reformation Day while two days later Catholics will utter prayers as part of All Souls’ Day. It is a fitting historical tribute (or irony) that All Souls’ Day and Reformation Day occur within two days of one another with All Saints’ Day sandwiched in between. It is as though the two great reform movements of western Christianity stand as bookends to the patristic heritage. The observance of these three days reminds Christians of a common patristic heritage and the way reformation and renewal can both reshape and fracture that heritage. Continue Reading »

The New Monasticism Gets Older

Nearly ten years ago, Christianity Today highlighted the emergence of “the new monastics,” referring to them as an “intentional community” of “new friars.” The September 2005 article traced the birth of the new monasticism to a conference in June 2004 where . . . . Continue Reading »