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Browsing News Entries

The Steadying Hand of Experience

The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely.—William Osler One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.—James Russell Lowell Adventure is worthwhile.—Aesop Years ago, as a newly minted third-year medical student turned loose (from two years of mind-numbing classroom lectures) to roam the medical wards of a bustling Minneapolis hospital, I felt someone warmly put their hand upon my shoulder. Turning, I beheld the unfamiliar face of a wizened senior physician. Grey, stooped, and bespectacled, he smiled at me and pointed to the numerous books and cheat sheets awkwardly stuffed into the groaning pockets of my white coat. “Someday,” he winked, “you won’t need to carry any of those around.” As he walked away, I muttered, “When?” What on earth was he talking about, and how would I ever arrive at such…

Jackie Kennedy’s Veil and the Weight of Apocalypse 

Fifty-eight years later, the images are still so very vivid. The funeral cortege; the deeply somber and silent crowds lining the streets; the riderless horse, named “Black Jack,” carrying a pair of highly polished, be-spurred boots in his stirrups to represent the fallen leader. The quietly respectful narration of the media, so unimaginable today, as a young matron, surrounded by the enormous Kennedy clan and appropriate members of the government leadership, walked behind her husband’s flag-draped casket. Most do not recall that Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy had only months earlier lost her infant son, Patrick, born five weeks prematurely. Most do not consider that her post-natal chemistry and the terrible grief of losing a “preemie” (a subject less readily discussed or even acknowledged back in the day), had likely combined to lay its own silent burden on her, one to be carried in the face of public…

What the Catholic Church Is Not, in Four Words

In my discernment that ultimately led to coming into full communion with the Catholic Church, one of my biggest challenges was figuring out just what the Church is. For years as a Protestant, every Sunday I rattled off the same formula that Catholics do: “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.” I ultimately found some clarity in Lumen Gentium about what these four marks of the Church mean. And I heartily commend paragraphs 811-870 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, along with Bishop Barron’s chapter “The Church” in his recent book Light from Light. But you may find you need to approach the issue a little differently.   Ecclesiology—that is, the study of the Church—is a particularly slippery…

“Shang-Chi” Presents the Strength of Peace and Self-Gift

“You have nothing to fear. You have the heart of our dragon…take everything we’ve given you and make it your own.”  —Ying Li, mother of Shang-Chi Parenthood is one of the most humiliating and awe-inspiring, painful and joyful, thrilling and debilitating experiences this world has to offer. Children, adopted or biological, bear the marks of their parents, the ones that raised them and/or the ones that bore them. Each one of us as imago dei are living icons of this reality. Our image is given to us through God the Father and our likeness—though also given—is enhanced or marred by our relationship with him or lack thereof.  Within any relationship, two persons pass on to one another their own healing or their pain. This is an all-too-common…

Harrison Lemke and the Humanity of Art

A couple of years ago, singer-songwriter Harrison Lemke was playing a small house show in my living room. My husband and I had rearranged the furniture so that our little house could accommodate two dozen people. Our four kids were sitting on pillows and local friends as well as a few folks we knew through “Catholic Twitter” (including Lemke and his wife Magdalene) occupied our chairs and couch.  I prayed for all the wrong reasons and you heard me. I prayed and you showed me some weird kind of mercy. Lemke introduced one haunting song with the story behind it. As an elementary student, Lemke had procrastinated on a school project and prayed earnestly that he wouldn’t have to turn it in the next morning in class. The work was still undone. An unexpected windstorm…

From Gundam to God: Tyler McNabb and Reformed Epistemology

Tyler McNabb, PhD, is an associate professor of philosophy currently teaching at the University of St. Joseph in Macau on the south coast of China. Previously, he was an assistant professor at Houston Baptist University. He is the author of several well-regarded books, including Religious Epistemology (Elements in the Philosophy of Religion) and the co-author of Plantingian Religious Epistemology and World Religions. He spoke with the Word on Fire Institute’s Matt Nelson about reformed epistemology and how his teenage crisis of faith brought him to where he is today. This is the first in Word on Fire’s periodic series “The Evangelizer’s Path.” Matt Nelson: First of all, can you say something about how you came to pursue philosophy as a professional vocation? Dr. McNabb:…

The Heroic Face of the Innocents

We are the Church of the saints. That's the message of a fine collection of stories titled, "The Heroic Face of Innocence," by George Bernanos, author of "The Diary of a Country Priest." Ellyn von Huben reviews the volume today.

Humanity Going Meta to Become All About Itself

In David Fincher’s brilliant 2010 film The Social Network, Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake, sums up the goal of Mark Zuckerberg’s burgeoning Facebook company, telling him: “We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet.” Parker’s words, written by Aaron Sorkin, have proved to be eerily accurate. We all have our own platform and audience. We all create our own reality with our smartphones. In a manner of speaking, we are all our own pope of our own religion. It’s all diabolical. And behind it all (according to the film) is a young man who wanted to get back at an ex-girlfriend by equipping Harvard men—the elite of the elite—with a simple tool to rate the attractiveness of co-eds. The Social…

Saint Martin of Tours’ Stunning Encounter

Today, on the feast of St. Martin of Tours, Father Steve Grunow offers a reflection on the legendary encounter that converted Martin from a celebrated soldier to a priest, bishop, and saint.

The Proper Telling of History

The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have someone write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. —Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. —George Orwell, 1984 Does history matter?  It would seem so. Just consider . . .  The beaming, boyish face of the diminutive NKVD head Nikolai Yezhov was unforgettable. Photographed standing pleasantly by the Moscow canal and next to his master Joseph Stalin, you couldn’t tell that they were living in the darkest days of the Soviet Union’s Great Purge. Entrusted…