Things Theological

Confession & Love of Neighbor: A Ramble

My confession finished, I waited for my penance and the sweet sound of  the ancient formula, “Ego te absolvo.” There was a brief silence on the other side of the screen. Then came: “Is that all?” It was a practical question, a commonplace prod to swing open some door I might I have left shut. But in that instant, on that day, the brevity of it struck me differently. Why so brusque? Almost curt. Had my confession bored the man? That must be it, I thought. Continue Reading
Francis: An Unworthy Householder

There are moments in this media-conscious pontificate that compel us to turn our eyes away. To keep on looking is to risk stumbling over the edge of the Slough of Despond. “And his disciples remembered that it was written: ‘Zeal for thine house will consume me.’” (John 2:17) That Johannine passage came to mind when I saw the photograph of Pope Francis kissing the shoes of the leaders of opposing sides in the South Sudan’s brutal civil war. The man we call Vicar of Christ groveled at the feet of the president of South Sudan, the leader of his opposition, and several others in the room—as if a papal kiss equips tribal enemies to sally forth in harmony and goodwill. Continue Reading
The Vatican: Integral Ecology and Liberation Theology

The extraordinary Synod of Bishops for the Pan Amazon region, coming to the Vatican in October, is a very big deal. It would be a mistake for people to dismiss it as inside baseball among Catholics. Far-reaching issues of broad societal concern are at work here under cover of ecological ideals and social justice rhetoric delivered in a Christian idiom. Under cover of deep ecology, liberation theology has come in out of the cold. And it is gunning to even the score between the industrial West and the Third World. Continue Reading
Amazon Synod Goes Dancing With Wolves

Before heading full tilt into the neo-pagan mirages of the Amazon Synod, a brief personal word is due. It will only take a second: “There is love and there is life. Yet we have but one heart.” That was the way Edgar Degas explained his failure to marry. If I were to borrow a variant of it to explain why this weblog has been silent recently, it would go something like this: “There is the studio and there is the writing desk. Continue Reading
Scattered Notes on Notre-Dame

My heart splintered watching Notre-Dame go up in flames. The disorder of my own responses—a jumble of dismay, anger, and foreboding—permits no tidy structure. What follows is a series of thoughts in no strict sequence. Bear with me. •    •    •    • “Somebody did something” on 9/11. Taking a cue from Ilhan Omar, can we wonder if somebody did something to Notre-Dame? It is a rational conjecture. Watching the cathedral tower burn, it was impossible for the mind’s eye not to go directly to the burning towers of the World Trade Center. Continue Reading