The Blog Has Moved

To the fol­low­ing Web address: The present blog will remain avail­able, and all old arti­cles will remain here. New arti­cles will be posted on the new site. I will be writ­ing the same kind of arti­cles as I have been—apologetics, lit­er­ary dis­cus­sion, and con­tem­po­rary Catholic issues.


Seven Reasons to Read Simcha Fisher’s Book on NFP

Of course, many will ask, Why should we trust this mother of nine to make the case for NFP? That’s a fecun­dity beyond all rea­son! Either she’s not really using NFP at all (oh the deceit!) or it does not really work. Nancy Pelosi infa­mously said that you call NFP-users “mama” and “dada,” and Sim­cha Fisher is exhibit A. But she laughs when I raise this poten­tial objec­tion and ask for her reply. “If it weren’t for nat­ural fam­ily plan­ning,” she tells me, “I would have 43 chil­dren. It’s the one thing I’m good at!”

FEMEN: the very voice and image of modern reason (photo credit: AFP)

Stamp Out Z-ophobia! and Other Quick Takes

I. Stamp out alpha­bet­i­cal inequal­ity and resist Z-ophobia! II. Why the Coke com­mer­cial was bad, and it’s not why you think. III. Why Jews who read Jew things are dan­ger­ous Jews who must be rounded up wher­ever we find the Jew. IV. The absolute impor­tance of being enslaved to epis­te­mo­log­i­cal dogma. V. Reduc­ing our human­ity to a let­ter and smear­ing bloody pro­pa­ganda on our boobs. VI. The hermeneu­tic of con­ti­nu­ity proven from a 1931 encycli­cal. VII. Call­ing for all vol­un­teers to join my ilk.

Have you noticed that the emblem of the United Nations seems to be drawn from the perspective of God, looking down on all the nations? That's who the United Nations thinks it is.

UN to Pope Francis: Change Your Doctrine

The Church has been han­dling the sex­ual abuse as it should. But the agenda of the UN is to spread through the world the idea that the Catholic Church is an evil to be fought. Unless the Catholic Church per­mits abor­tion, it is not doing enough to stop the abuse of chil­dren. Unless the Catholic Church per­mits con­tra­cep­tion, it is not doing enough to ensure that child­hood can flour­ish. And unless the Catholic Church approves of homo­sex­u­al­ity, it is not doing enough to pro­mote the dig­nity of the human body. Pope Fran­cis is not going to change the Church’s teach­ing. He has no author­ity to do any such thing; the truth is what the truth is. We know that. But he still does require our prayers and our sac­ri­fices. For when Pope Fran­cis does not change the Church’s teaching—when he defies the United Nations—what happens?

Pope Leo XIII, author of Rerum Novarum (1891)

Rolling Stoned on Pope Francis, Part 3

To those famil­iar with Catholic social teach­ing, the Church advo­cates nei­ther Marx­ism nor cap­i­tal­ism, but the “third way” of dis­trib­utism. Leo XIII and his suc­ces­sors have set forth the prin­ci­ples of it at great length and detail. Dis­trib­utism is a scan­dal to both right and left, who insist on think­ing in the false dichotomy of cap­i­tal­ism vs. social­ism. It is a scan­dal to those who want to paint Dorothy Day as a com­mu­nist, although she man­i­festly was not. And it is a scan­dal to those who want to paint a pic­ture of Fran­cis as some­how “aston­ish­ingly” at odds with his pre­de­ces­sor; which he too, man­i­festly, is not.

Photo by Joachim Specht, 2009

A Modest Proposal for Increasing the Relevance of Holy Mass

Imag­ine some­one will­ing to pay $30,000 in order to have a front-row seat at Mass. We believe that we have dis­cov­ered the way by which that may hap­pen, and not only increase atten­dance at Mass, and excite­ment about the Mass, but the rel­e­vance of the Mass as well. Now, we under­stand that some may laugh at this pro­posal, some may be offended, and some may assume that this is all a good-natured joke. But hear us through. We speak in earnest; this is not Eye of the Tiber. We do not pen inani­ties for The Onion. We are sober crit­ics and essay­ists here. And we wish to pro­pose a new liturgy.

Alberto Pizzoli, Getty Images

Rolling Stoned on Pope Francis, Part 2

Of Pope Fran­cis, Mr. Binelli has this to say: “His rec­og­niz­able human­ity comes off as pos­i­tively rev­o­lu­tion­ary.” Yes. Now, I know this is going to be a dis­putable point, but here it is: That is quite pos­si­bly the dumb­est sen­tence writ by man. No pope before Fran­cis was human—not even rec­og­niz­ably so? What about that dour old crab Bene­dict? It is not human to be dour? Is dour­ness the exclu­sive prop­erty of owls? Or what about the gre­gar­i­ous John Paul II? Has Mr. Binelli for­got­ten him? What does he mean, Fran­cis is rev­o­lu­tion­ary because he is human? Does that make sense? Is Mr. Binelli try­ing to make sense? What were all those 265 popes before Fran­cis? Frogs? Rep­tiles? Mon­sters of the deep?


Seven Anathemas on Super Bowl Sunday

In this post I am going to try a lit­tle blas­phemy. I won­der greatly how that will work out for me, in light of the reli­gious hys­te­ria that takes place every year on what is known as “Super Bowl Sun­day.” It is the only Sun­day in Extra­or­di­nary Time. It is our nation’s holi­est day of the year—the Easter of sports sec­u­lar­ism, when we gather round the altar (i.e., the tele­vi­sion); con­se­crate the ele­ments (beer and potato chips, or what­ever our snack and drink of choice); and watch our priests beat each other up for an hour (plus time out for time out and com­mer­cials). And this we cheer and use as an excuse to get loud and smashed.

Michael Raphael Cropped

Rolling Stoned on Pope Francis, Part 1

By now, dear reader, you have prob­a­bly heard that Pope Fran­cis made the cover of still another pop cul­ture mag­a­zine. The arti­cle, which is long and boor­ish and blind, is bent to advance a stan­dard theme: that the new pope is a fuzzy and progressive-leaning mav­er­ick and will stand Church teach­ing on its head; whereas, the old pope, the evil Bene­dict, was a sour old man who beat us all over the pate with the ham­mer of dogma. That is a car­i­ca­ture, and it belies the facts. But Mr. Binelli will insist upon this blue­bird land over the lib­eral rain­bow where Jesuit popes smash all the old dog­mas; even if on the way he must rely upon non-truth, and half-truth, and no small amount of tired old myth and stereo­type about the Catholic Church.


Fox News “Editor” Has Temper Tantrum Against the Pope

I am sur­prised Fox News would pub­lish such unre­con­structed garbage and arro­gant snipe, and present it as the work of some­one who “writes about Catholic issues.” No. Fr. Z writes about Catholic issues. Mark Shea writes about Catholic issues. Pat Arch­bold writes about Catholic issues. Fr. Robert Sirico, who has some expe­ri­ence in life and knows a thing or two about eco­nom­ics and Church social teach­ing, writes about Catholic issues. Did Fox News think to con­sult any of these esteemed gen­tle­men, or their com­peers, to help them under­stand Evan­gelii Gaudium? Is Fox News unable to find informed and thought­ful sources? Why is it putting for­ward the tem­per tantrums and panic attacks of a gameboy?

Raphael, "The School of Athens," 1509

Seven Reasons to Reject Catholic Fundamentalism About the Arts

Catholicism’s tra­di­tional atti­tude toward pagan cul­ture was not to destroy it but to pre­serve it. It was the bar­bar­ians who destroyed Greek and Roman cul­ture; it was Catholics who helped pre­serve it. And it was good that they did; for the Renais­sance of Catholic art and schol­ar­ship to hap­pen, Catholics needed those ear­lier Greek and Roman mod­els. In a sim­i­lar way, if a Catholic revival in the arts is to hap­pen again, it may very well rely on what the mod­ern world has made.


TurretinFan Interprets the Lightning

One hun­dred feet tall, sit­ting high atop the city at the peak of the Cor­dova moun­tains, with its arms out­stretched that way, the statue looks to me to be an invi­ta­tion to light­ning. In fact, there is a light­ning rod near by, but per­haps is not well-placed enough. Per­haps the promi­nent statue inter­cepts the light­ning on its way to the rod. Who knows? Who cares? Light­ning strikes objects all the time, but when it is a reli­gious statue, sud­denly Mr. X’s atten­tion is diverted from Ergun Caner long enough for him to prog­nos­ti­cate about the mean­ing behind it all and wag his fin­ger at graven images.


Through the Year With Pope Francis

With all the so-called shock­ing quo­ta­tions from the pope, which have been mak­ing a mad cir­cu­la­tion through the blogs of glee­ful lib­er­als and pan­icked con­ser­v­a­tives, would it not be nice to have access to a col­lec­tion of the Holy Father’s words that the front pages and head­line news have ignored? Just this week­end, I received in the mail a won­der­ful lit­tle vol­ume that does just that.


The Parable of the Biltmore

Steve “Pur­ple” Hays, at Tri­ablogue, has pro­posed the fol­low­ing argu­ment regard­ing sola scrip­tura: It is not in the Bible, but that should not worry us, for no one should expect to find it in the Bible. Instead, sola scrip­tura sim­ply is the Bible. This may be the most des­per­ate argu­ment yet by Protes­tants regard­ing this false and dan­ger­ous doc­trine. In this arti­cle, I explain why it mat­ters that Catholics keep ask­ing the ques­tion, “Where is sola scrip­tura in the Bible?” If some Calvin­ists are now admit­ting that it is not in the Bible, then in fact we are win­ning. Sola scrip­tura must either pass its own test, or be aban­doned by hon­est Chris­tians. That is what is at stake. Pre­var­i­ca­tion and avoid­ance such as Steve Hays and John Bugay engage in are no answer.

From the manuscript of North Wind by George MacDonald. (Kirsten Johnson, 2002)

Seven Quick Takes in Defense of Longhand

It feels more like writ­ing, to me, when I can have a tac­tile con­nec­tion to a phys­i­cal object. I can hold a pen. I can shake it, tap it onto the page or my head to dredge a thought, or bite it to mull. It feels more like I am writ­ing when I can look at a page and scratch out a line and try a dif­fer­ent set of words; and if that does not work, scratch out and try again. Or, I can write sev­eral options in the mar­gin. I am, this way, phys­i­cally con­nected to words; they are not out in the cyber-ether, but rather my hand gave them shape. I cre­ate with a lit­tle pres­sure of the whole hand, clasped.