Monday, September 15, 2014

bet the readers didn't see THAT coming...

Elizabeth Scalia, editor of the Catholic portal at (a great set of Catholic blogs there!), links to Roger Cohen of the New York Times.  As Scalia relates, Cohen says what everybody should recognize but rarely want to express:  things are not going well.  Scalia:

It is, finally, perhaps a time of dawning realization that the centers are not holding; old orders are in extremis; new orders are in capricious adolescence.
The troubles briefly enumerated in this sobering op-ed are only the most obvious issues. They are the pebble tossed into the pond, rippling outward in ever-widening circles — expanding to include a unique “time” of global crisis: governments failing at every level, everywhere; churches are divided, their freedoms challenged; citizens are distracted, dissatisfied and distrustful, their election mechanisms in doubt; schools are losing sight of the primary mission of education; families are deconstructed and the whole concept ripe for dissolution; respect for human dignity is doled out in qualified measures; there is a lack of privacy; a lack of time to think, to process and to incarnate; a lack of silence.
The Book of Judges closes at 21:25: "In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes."

Yep, that pretty much nails it.
But Scalia doesn't stop there.

as anniversaries approach...

I will take a few stabs at gauging what it all means. Here's a first shot over at the St Joseph's Theology blog...

Friday, September 5, 2014

ya gotta be kidding me file #3225918375

Lifelike funerals

H/T Steve Thorngate at Christian Century


Honesty time:  I drafted this back in July, pre-family vacation (fun had by all, btw), pre-Robin Williams suicide, pre-ISIL beheadings and child marriages, pre-Ferguson.  So there are more pressing matters at hand. Nevertheless, because our world seems like it's falling apart at the seams just now these outlandish attempts to script our lives beyond the grave seem so, well, ridiculous. As if we have that much power.  We do, as the headlines indicate, though, possess the power and will to each other egregious harm, violence, and death.  We rightly wrestle with discerning effective plans of action.

Lifelike funerals, though, remind of the Polish phrase:
nie twój cyrk, nie twoje małpy (not your circus, not your monkeys)

if it's good enough for the students, it's good enough for the blog readers

I teach college.  I've been at it for about twenty years.  It was and remains the one job I've sought and desired.  Some kids grow up wanting to jump out of airplanes, quarterback a football team, or become President.  Once I arrived at Wabash, I knew I wanted to follow in the footsteps of those teaching me.

Cutting to the current semester, my Ethics and Values students will be contributing posts to a course blog.  (Sorry--this will be a private, students-only blog not available on Blogger or anywhere else.)  To give them some idea of what I had in mind, I drummed up the following.  It runs on *much* longer than what they're expected to do, but it hopefully establishes some parameters.

For those who find this stuff interesting, please add a comment.  Before you get angry, though, do remember here I'm blogging for a student audience.

If you want something done right....
do it yourself.  Or at least show folks what you have in mind.

So here goes. Curious about this blog assignment?  Read through this once or twice and then construct your own.  My first post (because who knows? maybe I'll post a couple more...) will be longer than your 150-250 word requirement.

First, a couple things:  a) social media--if you're on Facebook and/or Twitter, feel free to connect at and @SpiritualDiabet.  I have another blog at  You are not required any of these.  Just FYI...  b) keep the old 1980s song in mind: "Show me, Don't Tell me";  work on weaving together your argument with the sources you use.  Embed your link (so we can access it) and then start commenting.  That's the "show";  if it's just a rant, then you're merely "telling."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

holding pattern

There will be fewer posts through the rest of the summer.  Writing, traveling, and family....

Best wishes, peace and all good for all!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

cathedral-ic response

One of Mark Shea's readers inquired about Medjugorje and the apparent lack of authoritative declaration from Rome.  Shea's response hits all the right chords--Rome doesn't rush anything, look how look it took to declare certain Christological affirmations and then there's Trent, the not-so-speedy-response to the Protestant Reformation.  Shea couches all this with language about the Ents, the ancient-of-days, slow-moving tree-people from Tolkien's Middle Earth.  The Ents took their time--slow from the hobbits' perspective, but actually swift from their own--and when they did act, they did so decisively and turned the battle for the good.  Shea's conclusion:

Bottom line: when the Ents finally get past hooming and homming and finally speak, the bishops who referred the matter to them will be totally and completely vindicated.  The trick will be figuring out a way to break this to the honest and good people who have been lied to so that they listen to the Church  and do not, like victims of Stockholm Syndrome, identify with the crooks and liars who have snookered them with this fraud for thirty years.  It’s a pastoral issue, not a truth issue, that is primarily the problem here.

At some point the obligatory "I'm a Catholic blogger so here are my two cents on Tolkien" post will appear.  For now, though, Shea's use of the Ents as an analogy for "thinking with the Church" reminded me of European cathedrals, especially the Roman basilicas (this perhaps because those were the ones I saw first, thanks to a semester abroad in college).  The space, the sheer physical scale, and for Rome the physical and archeological connections to the ancient Roman past, and yet throughout a great attention to detail and personal expression (one example out of a gazillion:  Pope Leo XIII's tomb at St. John Lateran) are supposed to blow your mind.  The Barthians out there will kill me, but this is the one time when I understood Schleiermacher's "feeling of absolute dependence."  But in the bigness there's also all that detail and thus it takes time to digest it all.  Anybody's who's been on a pilgrimage tour to Rome (or Paris or London or Moscow or Prague or Madrid...etc) knows this point:  there's too much to see in one trip.  So you must return.

In like fashion, responses from the Roman authorities take time.  It's as if they, in responding to real pastoral crises as mentioned above as well as all-too-real theological crises, too, need  to construct a "cathedral" in their response.  By comparison, Protestant churches--which by style and theology benefit from a "quick response," or as I've said, a "sugar-high" spirituality (feels good for a short time, then comes the crash)--have the flash response but little depth or sustainability.  True, sometimes the cathedrals need work and restoration and, equally true, we pilgrims don't always understand every nook and cranny within, but the cathedral--space or response--is worth the wait.