What Newsweek Doesn’t Get About the Bible

Newsweek, in an article by Kurt Eichenwald, says that Christians who regard homosexual practice as sin (or who—horror!—favor prayer in public school) “are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians,” “hypocrites,” “Biblical illiterates,” “fundamentalists and political opportunists,” and “Pharisees.” To support his slurs, Eichenwald first tries to undermine reliance on Scripture as a supreme authority for moral discernment and then to show how Christians, oblivious to the problems with biblical inspiration, ignore its clear teaching. Continue Reading »

Salt of the Earth

Salt of the earth” is one of the best-known phrases in the Bible, but it’s more enigmatic than we realize. Salt has many qualities, and it’s not clear which one Jesus is highlighting. Does Jesus want disciples to preserve the world? Are disciples as necessary to the world as salt is to life? Are disciples the seasoning on a main course dished up by someone else? Continue Reading »

An Ever Evolving Queen

don’t go all gooey over royalty, especially British royalty, but that didn’t stop my daughter, when in middle school, from becoming an anglophile. She attended British-American high teas in Kansas City several times and, in company with a woman actually from London, sang God Save the Queen. Once, when we visited New York, she overhead English accents and made me go over and ask them to join our table. The couple did and we had a pleasant time, though they didn’t drink tea as she thought they should have. Now twenty-two, I think she’s mostly over it. Continue Reading »

Unholy Holidays

My commuter railway sent out the warning on a Friday afternoon in late December: No alcoholic beverages would be allowed on the trains this weekend. It was not a new temperance message or Bloombergian attempt to control our vices, just a safety announcement on the eve of SantaCon, an event in New York and many other cities, during which Kris Kringle-disguised revelers drink themselves silly through a weekend before Christmas. Continue Reading »

Owning Our Baptism

The transfer of the celebration of the Epiphany to a Sunday from January 6 (the solemnity’s traditional date), and the elimination of Sundays-after-Epiphany in favor of the ill-named Sundays of “Ordinary Time,” has made a hash of the Christmas liturgical season, as I suggested in “Evangelical Catholicism.” Still, the liturgical calendar of Blessed Paul VI does us a service by highlighting the formerly insignificant Feast of the Baptism of the Lord as the terminus of the Christmas season. Continue Reading »

Picturing Mary

The new exhibit at Washington D.C.’s National Museum of Women in the Arts, “Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea,” conceived even before the museum’s birth in 1987, opened this year at long last, just in time for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The exhibit, which will continue until Easter, is under the curatorship of Msgr. Timothy Verdon, director of the Cathedral Museum of Florence, Italy and a leading scholar of Marian art. Continue Reading »

The Theology of Patti Smith

Patti Smith is known as the “godmother of punk,” but she always had higher goals than trying to make rock sound dangerous as the hippy era came to an end. I once almost lost a friendship because I suggested that her voice was not strong enough to sustain the passion of her angrier songs. “She’s too frail to be a punk Janis Joplin,” I said. “And too New Jersey.” Maybe that wasn’t fair, especially the part about New Jersey, but I do think she sounds better when, like Bob Dylan, she works with her vocal weaknesses, not against them. She’s sometimes called the female Bob Dylan, but Dylan is a songster whose lyrics are poetic, while Smith is a poet who also sings rock and roll. Because she’s not a natural singer, melancholy fits her tonal range, and when she goes for pretty, without erasing the edginess of her tone, she sounds downright sublime. Continue Reading »

God of Fire, Man of Prayer

Birmingham is a post-Civil War city founded in 1871 in response to the discovery of one of the world’s richest mineral deposits of iron, coal, and limestone. The abundance of these raw materials led to a thriving steel industry, and Birmingham became the “Pittsburgh of the South.” In the early twentieth century, the leaders of Birmingham commissioned a statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the forge, to represent the city at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Today, Vulcan stands 56-feet tall high atop Red Mountain overlooking the city, a symbol of Birmingham’s history. Colossus-like, Vulcan is the largest cast-iron statue in the world, welcoming thousands of visitors every day from near and far. Continue Reading »

March on for Life

Forty years have passed since the Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade decision, on January 22, 1973, and our country has never been the same since. Abortion is the worst domestic crime ever sanctioned by America, and the statistics become more grim by the year: nearly 60 million unborn children have been legally murdered since Roe. Continue Reading »