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A Visit to Cumorah, Hill of the Mormons

They had evidently not read Stanley Hauerwas. There were perhaps no actual American flags in the visitor’s center—and anyway, this wasn’t a sanctuary—but even so, it’s hard to imagine a more American aesthetic. The brand was boardroom Christianity: well-manicured lawns; well-dressed staff; the whole place conference room clean. “Successful” was mentioned several times, for children, for careers, never in a way that would imply the cross (the martyrs, etc.) as a success. The sculpture of the resurrected Christ was a copy, apparently in plaster, of a nineteenth century Danish marble: that great highpoint of assimilated Christianity, made infamous by Kierkegaard, in its new world simulacrum. Continue Reading »

Modern Cosmology and Creation

Does cosmology provide insights as to whether or not the universe is created? In a recent interview with Gary Gutting for the New York Times, Tim Maudlin, professor of philosophy at NYU, rejects arguments based on cosmology that seek to show that human beings have any special place: “No one looking at the vast extent of the universe and the completely random location of homo sapiens within it (in both space and time) could seriously maintain that the whole thing was intentionally created for us. This realization began with Galileo, and has only intensified ever since.” Continue Reading »

Hope at the March for Marriage

Will traditional marriage follow the path of preborn life—an issue moving from judicial activism and socially elite proclamations that a generational shift was “inevitable” and “the debate is over” to our day decades later where the youngsters are more right minded about abortion than their parents. That seemed to be the hope of many taking to the podium at the March for Marriage, held June 19th in Washington approximately a year after the Supreme Court struck down much of the Defense of Marriage Act that President Bill Clinton had signed into law. Continue Reading »

Don’t Joke About Sports

Sports are what men talk about when they really want to talk. Or at least that seems to be the case for many men, whose emotional lives are played out on big screen TVs and twenty-four hour media coverage of everything athletic. Whether it’s the suburbs, cities, or small towns, if you want to get personal with another man, you share commiserations about the home team over a communion of wings and beer. Continue Reading »

Theology of Sport

Long invisible, theology of sport is suddenly a growth industry. Robert Ellis’s “The Games People Play and Lincoln Harvey’s 
“A Brief Theology of Sport” both sum up the patristic criticisms of sport, both talk about Puritanism, both highlight the role of Victorian Muscular Christianity in the reconciliation of religion and sport. Theologically, both focus on creation, though in intriguingly different ways. Continue Reading »

Violet’s Life

Sometimes in parish ministry there are encounters with parishioners that leave one simply gasping, frustrated beyond comprehension, and there is little in the pastoral toolkit to help either pastor or parishioner. Continue Reading »

Tragic Compassion

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 90,000 unaccompanied minors will be apprehended attempting to enter the United States this year, up from 40,000 last year. DHS expects the number to grow to more than 140,000 next year. Ranging in age from six to seventeen, many of these minors travel more than 1700 treacherous miles from Honduras across Guatemala and Mexico. Continue Reading »

An Open Letter to the Patriarch of Moscow

Your Holiness: Grace and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. Remembering with pleasure our meeting in Washington some years ago, I am prompted to write by what I once hoped was a common concern for the unity of Christ’s Church and a shared commitment to bridging the chasm that opened between America and Russia during the Cold War. Continue Reading »

In Praise of Praise Music

Praise music gets no respect, even among Christians. It is not hard to figure out why the unchurched don’t care for it. They can sing “Stairway to Heaven” with gusto because they don’t believe that the stairs are really going anywhere, while it is hard to sing “Here I Am to Worship” without doing exactly that. But Christians are people of praise. That’s what we do. So why do so many Christians have such a condescending attitude toward praise music? Continue Reading »

Why Do People Become Catholic?

We recently hosted a talk by John Beaumont, author of The Mississippi Flows into the Tiber: A Guide to Notable American Catholic Converts to the Catholic Church. It’s a wonderful compilation of convert stories that includes a few folks associated with this fine magazine. John recounted a number of them. He ended with an arresting question: Why do people convert to Catholicism? There’s no one answer, of course, but many reasons, which John winsomely summarized. Continue Reading »

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