The Theological Origin and, Hopefully, End of Modernity

Michael Gillespie has recently made a persuasive historical case for the theological origins of modernity. Erasmus, Luther, Hobbes, Locke, Descartes, et al were, according to Gillespie, working within a nominalist theology, bequeathed to them from the fourteenth century Franciscans, which cleaved nature from grace, God’s will from His nature, faith from reason, and particulars from universals… . Continue Reading »

The Evangelical Family

Take a look at your family photos going back to your grandparents and great-grandparents, if you happen to have them. I have a nice one of my late father’s family when he was a little boy of three, circa 1939, taken on the family farm in North Dakota. A serious, hardscrabble Friesian family stares back at me: eight siblings; one father; no mother, as she had recently passed. Ten. I look at photos of my family of origin: Mom, dad, me, sister. Four… . Continue Reading »

If You Will

Many people have been upset by the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Understandably enough, most people haven’t actually read the assessment (after all, ecclesiastical documents tend not to be page-turners). Judging only from most media reports, we’d have to conclude that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is gathering sticks for the first auto-da-fè in centuries… . Continue Reading »

Light From the South

Prior to an April visit to Argentina, I read the “Aparecida Document,” the final report of the Fifth General Assembly of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM), which was held in Brazil in 2007. This master plan for the New Evangelization in Latin America is rather long”20-times longer than the Gospel of Mark, I’d guess. But in virtually every other respect it’s an entirely admirable piece of work that should be known throughout the world Church… . Continue Reading »

Perfecting Prenatal Eugenics

When I was a kid, it took twenty-four hours to get the results from a simple strep- test. Now it takes minutes. People used to get chickenpox. Now they have a vaccine for it. Usually, medical innovation is a good thing. But as the parent of a little girl with Down syndrome, I find news that geneticists are close to perfecting a noninvasive prenatal test that can map almost all of an unborn baby’s DNA sequence deeply troubling. This test will not be used to make your throat feel better or your leg stop itching. It will be used to abort babies. Lots of them… . Continue Reading »

Bong! Boring; Say Something New

When I am feeling all out-of-sorts—not just distracted, but traipsing toward disorientation—I regain a sense of order by pulling from the bookshelf a favorite book that has lain dormant for perhaps a decade, lifted only for dusting or for consideration when I am putting together a donation to our local library. Sometimes, one cracks open the dusty pages and discovers that the book’s attractions have not held … Continue Reading »

St. Paul, Theologian of the Trinity

It’s become a commonplace in modern literature on the apostle Paul to observe that he wasn’t a systematic theologian. One need look no further than a standard textbook from the last century, which offers the colorful exhortation not to “rank the tent-maker of Tarsus along with Origen, Thomas Aquinas, and Schleiermacher.” … Continue Reading »

Income Inequality

Sometimes the editors at the New York Times get it right, even when they’re wrong. In a May 26 editorial they opined that Democratic attacks on Mitt Romney’s career as head of Bain Capital are fair game: “Private equity, rarely by design, has created many jobs. But the practice of leveraged buyouts, in which Bain was a big player, has also contributed significantly to the growth of the income gap, moving wealth from the middle class to the top end.” … Continue Reading »

The Offensiveness of Evangelism

The topic of evangelism made national headlines in Canada recently. It all started with a twelfth grade student in Nova Scotia wearing a T-shirt boldly emblazoned with the words, “Life is wasted without Jesus.” William Swinimer continued to wear his yellow T-shirt even after the vice-principal at his school asked him not to do so, after some students had complained that they found the message offensive. Swinimer’s refusal to obey led to a series of in-school suspensions, and finally a five-day at-home suspension… . Continue Reading »

Pro-Life PETA?

The public relations staff of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) must think themselves very clever. Earlier this month, in an effort to grab the attention of Americans preparing to celebrate Memorial Day, the animal rights group “barbequed” a topless woman in downtown Houston on a fake grill adorned with the slogan, “Meat Is Murder.” … Continue Reading »