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PZ’s Cure for Existential Beastliness

PZ’s Cure for Existential Beastliness

The other day I was suffering from the normal post-holiday, first-of-the-year, what-has-happened-to-my-life, dear-God-help-me blues. We’ve all been there, right? Right? I was scanning my bookshelf, as you do, desperate for some encouragement, and my eyes lit on PZ’s Panopticon.

I have quite a few of Paul Zahl’s books and have given away Grace in Practice, specifically, more times than I care to count. I even own Comfortable Words, edited by J.D. Koch Jr. and Todd Brewer, the festschrift (isn’t that a great word–literally means “celebration writing”) devoted to his life and work. Suffice it to say, I am a fan. There is…

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Does Hockey Have a Soul? Thoughts on a Cruciform Zamboni

Does Hockey Have a Soul? Thoughts on a Cruciform Zamboni

Here’s one from hockey enthusiast, our friend, Scott Dalton.

If you’ve been paying much attention this season to ESPN’s commentary on the NHL, this article may have caught you off guard.

In the seemingly endless stream of ESPN’s NHL news, there sits an article written by John Buccigross that attempts to tap into the spirituality of one of America’s most violent sports: hockey.

With striking and overt spiritual imagery, Buccigross draws parallels to Catholic confession and an endless cycle of “rinse and repeat” justification he experienced in high school. He credits hockey for a feeling of renewal.

For Buccigross the Zamboni has been a…

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Westworld and the Myth of Christmas

Westworld and the Myth of Christmas

Here’s a great one from Geoff Holsclaw, Augustine scholar, Mockingcast moonlighter, and friend. Spoiler alert applies: 

The best works of art remind of us reality, or point to what could be.

Provoking the local community, one of our artists installed “Away from the Manger” on the church lawn. Life-sized versions of Mary, Joseph, and the three Wisemen were placed 15 feet away from baby Jesus in the manger. They “adults” were all gathered around a giant television tuned to Fox News.

We received outraged letters from another church about how we were profaning Christmas. The neighbors were mostly confused and the installation was…

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On Being Outsiders…and Not Quite Bulletproof

On Being Outsiders…and Not Quite Bulletproof

Just wanted to let you know you can all calm down: I figured out the Election of 2016.

Okay, maybe I didn’t “figure it out” so much as “choose the theory I find least disquieting among all the ones being thrown around right now.” The narrative of this election, after all, is being told and retold all over social and traditional media. There seems to be no escaping the countless voices clamoring to be heard, the opinions on why the winner won and the loser lost. One of the refrains that caught my eye early, though, and still sticks, is that so many…

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How Hans Urs von Balthasar Stopped Up His Ears

An incisive passage from Hans Urs Von Balthasar’s Heart of the World, ht Clayton Hornback:

heart-of-the-worldI’ve been a person who has fulfilled his religious obligations. I am a practicing Christian. I am a good Catholic. Sundays I’ve always been in church. I’ve made my Easter duty. I’ve paid my tithes. I’ve given my alms. I’ve always said my morning and evening prayers. I have always been to confession and they’ve always been valid. I have made my nine First Fridays (which, after all, have given me a kind of insurance before God, sanctioned by the Church). I’ve gone to Communion every Sunday. I’ve communicated daily.

‘I have, I have’. What I’ve done with my religion is raised up walls against God. By my practices I have stopped up my ears to God’s call. Quietly, imperceptibly, everything which could have been life has become a mechanism behind which my soul has laid itself to rest.

Praying With Trump?

Praying With Trump?

Becket is a great film. Maybe the great film. It has the added advantage of being true.

It’s a film that tells the story of Thomas Becket. He was born sometime in the early 12th century, in all likelihood on the 21st of December on the day of his namesake, Thomas the Apostle (Doubting Thomas).

Like many of us, he had a messy story. He hung around with elites as a kid but was the son of someone caught between the clear (and perhaps cruel) line between nobility and commoner. History tells us his father was perhaps a knight or modest landowner. But…

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No Such Glorious Thing: Martyrdom and the God of Silence

No Such Glorious Thing: Martyrdom and the God of Silence

This post was written by Cort Gatliff.

One afternoon when I was in elementary school, as I was choosing a book to purchase from the church bookstore—my reward for behaving while running errands with my mom—I came across Jesus Freaks by the Christian band DC Talk. Named after the band’s successful album and song, both of which I counted myself a fan, Jesus Freaks tells the stories of Christians around the world who have been put to death for their faith.

That night, long after everyone in my house had fallen asleep, I stayed up reading. I became obsessed with these shocking…

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And I Mean to Be One, Too

And I Mean to Be One, Too

We’re approaching All Saints’ Sunday, which is the anniversary of both of my sons’ baptisms. We baptized them as infants, placing their entire bodies carefully and lovingly into water prayed over by my husband. After he washed them in the holy water to baptize them, he anointed their heads with oil and marked them as Christ’s own forever. I cannot even think about those baptized babies without getting weepy, not out of sentimentality, but for the sheer power of the words spoken over them that day, and for the promises we made on their behalf.

Why did we choose All Saints’…

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God as a Magnifying Mirror of Me: On American Folk Religion

God as a Magnifying Mirror of Me: On American Folk Religion

At the end of August, I shared a quote from sociologist Zygmunt Bauman in which he described social media networks and various communities in our day as reflections of the individual. That is, we contemporary Americans tend to seek out communities and people that help express our inner selves more visibly to the wider world. Like my new iPhone 7, J.Crew shirt, and selvedge denim jeans reveal something about their owner, so in much the same way are my networks and circle of friends an extension of my inner ego. And if Bauman is correct in that observation, then might it be that God is…

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Halloween Is For All the Saints

Halloween Is For All the Saints

Do I love Halloween because I love darkness? That’s a trick question, albeit an unintentional one. Do I love darkness? Yes. Every son and daughter of Adam loves darkness, John records for us in the light of Nicodemus’ bumbling nighttime interview with Jesus. Our inheritance as a race is a disavowal of the light and an embrace of gloom and death. So am I somehow an exception that escapes the charge? Not at all. But is this affirmation the bottom line for why I delight in Halloween? For some the answer will be an obvious “Yes”, but I think the…

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Ian & Blake’s Terrifying Top Fives: The Scariest Short Stories for the Halloween Season

Ian & Blake’s Terrifying Top Fives: The Scariest Short Stories for the Halloween Season

Welcome once again to Ian and Blake’s annual Halloween series about a genre that does what few others can. Here’s this year’s final spooky top-five! Before you dive in, make sure you don’t miss last week’s installment on the best introductions to horror for kids.

5. “Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad” by M.R. James (1904)

This entry is a spring-loaded little yarn from M.R. James, the early 20th century master of the English ghost story, and follows Parkins, an antiquary investigating the ruin of a Templar preceptory. While searching through the remains he discovers a whistle inscribed with Latin and translates the…

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Attachment Theory and Your Relationship With God

Attachment Theory and Your Relationship With God

Another sampler from the Mental Health Issue! Here’s a doozie from psychologist Bonnie Poon Zahl about the meaning of ‘attachment theory’ and its implications for the ways we talk about our faith. Of course, this is only to whet your appetite…

I am a psychologist of religion. This means that I use tools from psychological science to study, empirically, the manifold expressions of religion and spirituality in human lives. I am most interested in how people understand and relate to God, and in my research I adopt the methodological naturalism that is expected in my discipline; I try to understand people’s religious…

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