In my capacity as regional bishop of the Santa Barbara pastoral region, which covers two entire counties north of Los Angeles, I am obliged to spend a good deal of time in the car. To make the long trips a bit easier, I have gotten back into the habit of listening to audio books. Just recently, I followed, with rapt attention, a book that I had read many years ago but which I had, I confess, largely forgotten: C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce.
Last week Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S.J. passed away at the age of 94. Though many younger Catholics might not remember him, Fr. Berrigan was one of the most provocative and controversial religious figures of his time. Standing in the tradition of principled non-violence proposed by Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, and others, Berrigan led the charge against America’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict and its on-going participation in the Cold War and the nuclear arms race.
I am sure by now that many of you have seen the appalling hidden-camera videos of two Planned Parenthood physicians bantering cheerfully with interlocutors posing as prospective buyers of the body parts of aborted infants. While they slurp wine in elegant restaurants, the good doctors - both women - blandly talk about what price they would expect for providing valuable inner organs, and how the skillful abortionists of Planned Parenthood know just how to murder babies so as not to damage the goods.
Every third summer, the Catholic lectionary provides a series of readings for Sunday Mass from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. This is the magnificently crafted chapter in which the evangelist's Eucharistic theology is most fully presented. It is a curiosity of John's Gospel that the Last Supper scene includes no "institution narrative," which is to say, the account of what Jesus did with the bread and cup the night before he died.
Last week, I wrote a piece on Bruce Jenner's transformation into Caitlyn Jenner. I argued that the manner in which Jenner spoke of his transition reflected a Gnostic anthropology, which is repugnant to a Biblical view of the human being. I didn't say a word about Jenner personally; I urged no violence against him/her; I didn't question his/her motives. I simply made an observation that the moral and spiritual context for transgenderism is, from a classically Christian standpoint, problematic.
The attendance at our daily Mundelein Seminary on Labor Day weekend was sparse. Many of the students had gone home while others were on a special tour of Chicago churches. The celebrant and preacher for the Sunday Mass was Fr. Robert Schoenstene, our veteran Old Testament professor. Fr. Schoenstene offered the best interpretation I’ve ever heard of a particularly puzzling parable of the Lord, and I wanted to make sure his reading got a wider audience.
One of the unintended but happy consequences of the emergence of the new atheism is a renewed interest in the classical arguments for God’s existence. Eager to defend the faith that is so vigorously attacked today, Catholic apologists and evangelists have been recovering these rational demonstrations of the truth of God; and the atheists, just as eager to defend their position, have entered into the fray.
A very instructive exchange between Gary Gutting, a philosophy professor at Notre Dame, and Philip Kitcher, a philosophy professor at Columbia, just appeared in the pages of The New York Times. Kitcher describes himself as a proponent of “soft atheism,” which is to say an atheism distinct from the polemical variety espoused by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Unlike his harsher colleagues, Kitcher is willing to admit that religion can play an ethically usefu
Well, it’s Easter time, and that means that the mainstream media and publishing houses can be counted upon to issue de-bunking attacks on orthodox Christianity. The best-publicized of these is Bart Ehrman’s latest book How Jesus Became God. Many by now know at least the outlines of Ehrman’s biography: once a devout Bible-believing evangelical Christian, trained at Wheaton College, the alma mater of Billy Graham, he saw the light and became an agnostic scholar and is now on a mission to undermine the fundamental assumptions of Christianity. In this most recent tome, Ehrman lays out what
The first reading for Mass on the first Sunday of Lent this year, taken from Genesis 3, deals with the creation of human beings and their subsequent fall from friendship with God. Like a baseball coach who compels even his veterans to re-learn the basics of the game every spring, the Church invites us, during the spring training of Lent, to re-visit the spiritual fundamentals. And they are on no clearer display than in this great archetypal story.