Homosexuality: A Call to Otherness?

At this past weekend’s 65th Annual Tony Awards, the prize for “Best Revival of a Play” went to Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart about the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Upon receipt of the award, Kramer said, “To gay people everywhere, whom I love so dearly, The Normal Heart is our history. I could not have written it had not so many needlessly died. Learn from it and carry on the fight. Let them know that we are a very special people, an exceptional people, and that our day will come.” … Continue Reading »

We All Die with Dignity

The late Jack Kevorkian enjoyed an ambivalent relationship with the wider pro-euthanasia movement. Like Australia’s Philip Nitschke, he single-handedly focused national attention on the euthanasia issue. Yet the presence of an eccentric, media-loving “Dr Death” had become an embarrassment to pro-euthanasia groups desperate to be taken seriously on a public policy level… . Continue Reading »

Particular Loves, In This Life and the Next

We could see his sister in the next room, standing up straight, alert, obviously happy to meet the stranger who had unexpectedly asked to see her. He stood in the room facing us, shrinking back a bit, with a nervous look on his face, watching us carefully while he peed on the floor. It was a little awkward, with the person who had introduced us leaning against the door and grinning, hoping we’d hit it off, as the puddle of urine grew and eventually flowed across the floor and out between his front paws… . Continue Reading »

Tree of Life Yields Little Fruit

The press and others are making much of the religious or theological character of Terrence Malick’s new film, Tree of Life, a tremendously ambitious work featuring Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, and Sean Penn. It is rare, after all, that a Hollywood film delves into the subject of the numinous… . Continue Reading »

Epiphany to Pentecost

God appeared frequently to saints of the Old Testament. He came as a smoking oven and flaming torch to Abram (Genesis 15:17), and later as three men before Abraham’s tent by the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18). He showed Himself to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:2), and to Israel in a fiery cloud (Exodus 16:10). When He appeared to Korah, the earth opened and swallowed the rebels, and He appeared to Manoah’s wife with the good news about a son (Judges 13:3) and to Samuel with grim news for the house of Eli (1 Samuel 3:21). Continue Reading »

The Cold Fire of the Holy Spirit

Human efforts all show their fault lines sooner or later”Rome fell, Communism crumbled, and even the flag on the moon will tip over eventually. But Pentecost is the perpetual reminder that the limits of our strength should lead us to hope, not despair. Strength, and it limits, are the obsessions of Asbury Fox, the main character in Flannery O’Connor’s short story “The Enduring Chill.” … Continue Reading »

The Trouble with Angels

I do not trust angels. They are capricious, arbitrary, impulsive, and mercurial. If Gabriel is any example they are also officious and apt to lash out if slighted. I doubt they are instructed very well on how to behave with humans. I don’t like them, the biblical sort anyway. But try reading about angels found at the I Believe in Angels web site, or BeliefNet, or Angels Online. The stories offered are about angels falling into a category best described as “unfailingly helpful,” guardian Boy Scouts out to do a good turn… . Continue Reading »

The China Syndrome

The Internet brings us relentless cataracts of overwhelming, undesired, and often unwelcome information. But once in a great while the immense swirl of digital 0s and 1s assembles itself into something surprising”and leads to unexpected truths… . Continue Reading »

The Fountainhead of Satanism

Over the past few years, Anton LaVey and his book The Satanic Bible has grown increasingly popular, selling thousands of new copies. His impact has been especially pronounced in our nation’s capital. One U.S. senator has publicly confessed to being a fan of the The Satanic Bible while another calls it his “foundation book.” On the other side of Congress, a representative speaks highly of LaVey and recommends that his staffers read the book… . Continue Reading »

A 40-Something Cardinal?

In recent centuries, the College of Cardinals has not been noted for its boyishness. Indeed, one of the human fascinations of a conclave is that it’s a rare opportunity to see a deliberation-with-consequences conducted by elderly men. This can have its down-side: According to one story, perhaps apocryphal, a very old cardinal kept writing “Achille Ratti” on his ballot throughout the conclave of 1958; Ratti had died in 1939 as Pius XI… . Continue Reading »