Love in the Landfill

My education at Notre Dame focused significantly on the ancient and medieval world. More than fifty of my 132 credits were on languages, cultures and ideas prior to the modern era, and these classes shaped the way I viewed my own life. I suspect the ways in which I lived and spoke were countercultural, not necessarily deliberately, but because many of my intellectual categories and contexts for thinking about life predated those of the contemporary world by millennia. Continue reading “Love in the Landfill”

The Pain of Parting

Michelangelo began sculpting the Pietá when he was about 23 years old, about a year older than most of the students who will soon graduate from Notre Dame. His Pietá was a novel piece among Italian art representing Our Lady. The artistic tradition had previously maintained a Mary who stood strong at the foot of the cross and who neither trembled nor wept upon her Son’s death. This tradition had stressed a kind of devotion to God that neither swayed nor sorrowed at times of loss or pain.  Continue reading “The Pain of Parting”

Papa Franc and the Legacy of Bene

The new pope is Pope Francis. I have yet to determine whether this is for Francis of Assisi or Francis Xavier (or Francis de Sales). Most sources say it’s Assisi. So that means we have a Jesuit pope from South America who chose the founder of another religious order for his namesake. Weird, right? But it’s not weird as we look back to the writings of his predecessor. Continue reading “Papa Franc and the Legacy of Bene”

Our introduction to “philosophy”

The following column was published in The Observer on Tuesday, February 26, 2013.

Last semester, I helped a friend with her Introduction to Philosophy course. Like many Introduction to Philosophy courses at Notre Dame, it functioned primarily as an introduction to intellectual history and as an introduction to certain mind games. Such courses have instilled a general sense that philosophy is largely a waste of time. This sense is confirmed by students whose only exposure to philosophy is: “How do you really know that you exist?” For many, philosophy progresses in a series of pointless questions. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it really make a sound? Continue reading “Our introduction to “philosophy””

The Church Annie Selak Wants: Part II

The following is the Part II of my response to Annie Selak’s Washington Post article. Part I can be read by clicking here.

Third, Selak desires “a church that embraces that God is everywhere.” In particular, she relates a “need to affirm and emphasize that God is present in other religions and sincerely work on improving our relationships with them.” She states that “some of Pope Benedict XVI’s biggest missteps related to his interactions with other religions.” She fails to realize, however, that in Pope Benedict she has an ally. Benedict himself informed the Roman curia in 2012 that “in man’s present situation, the dialogue of religions is a necessary condition for peace in the world and it is therefore a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities.” He calls for a dialogue about the relationships between religions, and also about the relationship of religion to culture, reason, and society. Continue reading “The Church Annie Selak Wants: Part II”

The Church Annie Selak Wants: Part I

The following is part I of my response to Annie Selak’s recent piece in the Washington Post:

2011-12-24T232416Z_01_MXR24_RTRIDSP_3_POPEOn Valentine’s Day, Annie Selak, “a lay minister in the Roman Catholic Church” revealed to the world what kind of church young Catholics want. She titled her Washington Post piece, “The church young Catholics want,” and in it she summarized some of the many noble desires of young Catholics for the future of their Church. She sees young Catholics wanting “a church that takes our experience seriously,” “that emphasizes the inclusive ministry of Jesus,” “that embraces that God is everywhere,” and “that engages struggles and is open to dialogue.” Her words merit discussion, both as the Church seeks to navigate its relationship to the modern world and as young Catholics seek to navigate their relationships to Catholicism. Continue reading “The Church Annie Selak Wants: Part I”

“The Gay Issue”: Learning from the Pro-Life Movement

This is my fifth post in a series on understanding same-sex-attraction. The previous four posts are:
On Terminology
Within Catholicism
Newman and Michelangelo
Broadening Same-Sex-Attraction

In her book Unplanned, Abby Johnson discusses her first day as a volunteer for Planned Parenthood. She recalls, “As I waited, I was caught off guard by a few protesters on the other side of the fence. One fellow was dressed up as the Grim Reaper–he even carried a scythe. A woman took a spot outside the fence and began waving a huge placard with a picture of an aborted fetus on it–a grotesque image… Every now and then she’d shout out some antiabortion slogan.” Continue reading ““The Gay Issue”: Learning from the Pro-Life Movement”

“The Gay Issue”: Broadening Same-Sex-Attraction

This post is the fourth post in a series on understanding “same-sex-attraction.” The three previous posts were:

One very complex concept that I have discussed is the idea of “attraction.” Defining and understanding the idea of attraction can be very difficult. What does it mean for a person to be “attracted” to another? What does this attraction consist of? What are its limits? By now, it should be obvious that when I use the words “same-sex-attraction,” I am using them somewhat differently from how most people use them. Most people use the words “same-sex-attraction” as the Catholic Church defines homosexuality, “relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex.” In particular, they understand same-sex-attraction as a desire for sexual pleasure with or from someone of the same sex. For these people, same-sex-attraction may also be called same-sex-lust. If this is the proper understanding of same-sex-attraction, then same-sex-attraction is intrinsically disordered. Continue reading ““The Gay Issue”: Broadening Same-Sex-Attraction”