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A Catholic Response to Trump/ism

“Thus saith the Lord: Execute judgment and justice, and deliver him that is oppressed out of the hand of the oppressor: and afflict not the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, nor oppress them unjustly: and shed not innocent blood in this place.” – Jeremiah 22:3 Trump won. And in some sense, that’s understandable. The issue isn’t with Trump per se. He is surely not … Continue reading A Catholic Response to Trump/ism

Applicants for Admission to a Casual Ward after 1908 Sir Luke Fildes 1843-1927 Purchased 1970 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01227

A Catholic Defense of Welfare

It is not uncommon these days to hear certain notions regarding the nature of property and theft bandied about in Catholic neoconservative circles. This is most common especially during election cycles. You know, the ones that essentially transform Catholicism into a justification for privatization, neoliberalism, and so on. These notions usually consist of relegating the common good of society to only defense and private property … Continue reading A Catholic Defense of Welfare

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Anamnesis and the Return to Eden: A Liturgical Reading of Plato’s Meno

“The whole of searching and learning is recollection.” – Socrates Things get started in the Meno – regarding anamnesis – when Meno, in 80d, poses this question to Socrates: “How will you look for it, Socrates, when you do not know at all what it is? How will you aim to search for something you do not know at all? If you should meet with … Continue reading Anamnesis and the Return to Eden: A Liturgical Reading of Plato’s Meno

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The Holy Finitude

Taken up by saccharinely pious grandmothers across the globe, the legacy of Thérèse of Lisieux – the greatest saint of modern times – has been covered up, reducing her to, in the words of Thomas Merton, “a mute pious little doll.” While Thérèse herself is partly to blame for this, fond as she was of flowery language and typical bourgeois French Catholic sentiments, the saint … Continue reading The Holy Finitude

Figure 1. Robert Campin, Merode Altarpiece (ca. 1427-32), via Wikimedia Commons

By the Garden Gate: A Journey With Robert Campin

A few years ago, in New York for a conference, I made a pilgrimage to The Cloisters museum and gardens. I use the term “pilgrimage” advisedly. Like a medieval traveler going to a shrine, I went to see a sacred object—the painting known as the Merode Altarpiece by Flemish artist Robert Campin. From Midtown, the Cloisters was enough out of the way to make the … Continue reading By the Garden Gate: A Journey With Robert Campin

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Community and Identity

Whether it’s identity politics, arguments based on the primacy of self-identification, or political or social dismissal based on easy identification, “identity” is a concept both increasingly important and sadly analyzed. CEOs have been forced to resign. People anathematized and supported by various members of racial and ethnic communities. Religions made monolithic for easy targeting. All of these are bound up in our word “identity” and … Continue reading Community and Identity

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Death and Darwin: A Patristic Approach

It’s all but impossible to overestimate the theological and philosophical importance of the Fall. Only if one affirms the reality of a Fall, after all, is one able to meaningfully distinguish between how things are and how they ought to be. For if our world is not ontologically ‘fallen’ or fractured in any serious way, one has no choice but to accept either nihilism on … Continue reading Death and Darwin: A Patristic Approach

The Madonna Of The Magnificat Painting by Sandro Botticelli; The Madonna Of The Magnificat Art Print for sale

What Can Poetry Do?

We may think of poetry as a frivolous nicety. Something for unemployed graduate students and English teachers. We may have repeated to ourselves the old mantra from Auden’s poem about Yeats that “poetry makes nothing happen.” It’s only an assortment of words, with tired rhymes or childish puns. What can it do besides give me a feeling? How can poetry do anything? In the poem, Auden notes that “Ireland … Continue reading What Can Poetry Do?

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The Political: An Idol?

“If God exists, then by necessity is he the thing most worthy of study and devotion.” With that thought, I went from a secularly-raised individual with an interest in religion to a religious individual with an obsession with secular philosophy. Put otherwise, I realized that if God is real, then questions about him must take precedence, hence my devotion to the subjects of literature, philosophy, … Continue reading The Political: An Idol?