March 17, 2014
Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving—this Lenten trinity of practices has long been the foundation of our penitential season as we prepare for Holy Week and Easter. Many people will adopt new methods of prayer, engage in the spiritual practice of fasting and offer time and resources in the form of almsgiving. Each of these helps us to focus our attention on what we might otherwise overlook and challenges us to, as one option for the distribution of ashes puts it...
March 3, 2014
The priest-theologian David Tracy once wrote of the “three publics” to whom every teacher of theology speaks: the academy, the church and society at large. These are markedly different audiences; what can appear to one audience as wonkish or an argument about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin can be of pressing concern to another.
February 24, 2014
The feeling can best be described as last-minute, Lenten panic. It typically hits in those final hours of Mardi Gras, when it dawns on me that I must soon settle on a Lenten sacrifice. And then, moments later, my worry quickly subsides as I fall back on that old favorite—forgoing sweets—and tuck in to a pre-Lenten bowl of ice cream as though it were my final meal in prison.
February 17, 2014
Over the last few years, whenever I told friends that I was working on a book on Jesus, they invariably laughed. The most common responses were (in order of frequency) “Ha!” “Well, that’s a small topic!” and “Oh, I’ve heard of him!” But one response stuck with me: “So, are you writing about the Jesus of history or the Christ of faith?”
Unfortunately, those two approaches are often seen as contradictory, when they are in...
February 3, 2014
I remember being told in a philosophy class I took in college years ago that “wherever you go, you meet Plato on the way back.” I dutifully plowed through The Republic, but it wasn’t until years later, when I was reading Plato’s earlier works, the Apology, Crito and Phaedo, that I came to appreciate the truth of that quip.
January 20-27, 2014
On Dec. 10, 2013, the eyes, ears and hearts of the world were focused on Soweto, South Africa, on the occasion of a memorial service to remember the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. Mandela will be remembered for a great many things, including his commitment to peacemaking and nonviolence in his later years. But in a way unlike Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi, with whom Mandela will be remembered as a great world leader of liberation, Mandela’s...
January 6-13, 2014
On a visit to Dublin this past Thanksgiving (traveler’s tip—it’s cheap to fly on Thanksgiving…as long as you’re leaving the country), I had the chance to visit the major sites of the Easter Rising of 1916, a failed attempt by Irish nationalists to throw off centuries of English rule and establish an Irish Republic. In the aftermath of the rising, the ringleaders of the rebellion were brought to Dublin’s Kilmainham Gaol, a classic example of a panopticon-...
December 23-30, 2013
In a recent viral video, a Rube Goldberg device made up of a series of pink and purple toys—a feather boa, a tea set, a baby doll—moves along to the tune of “Girls” by the hip hop group the Beastie Boys. But in this version of the song, the misogynistic lyrics have been replaced. Instead of calling for girls “to do the dishes” and “to clean up my room,” the revised lyrics call for girls to build apps and spaceships.
December 9-16, 2013
I can’t remember being so inspired by so many young people in such a short period of time. They came from across the country, from Jesuit high schools, colleges and universities—by car, bus, train and plane. Perhaps the most epic journey was made by a group of students from Creighton University who piled into a bus for a very long ride from Omaha to Washington, D.C.
December 2, 2013
Sitting in a Cambridge, Mass., movie theater with a friend, I forced myself not to look or shy away from the violent scenes in Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave.” Unlike the gratuitous violence of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” or Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” there was nothing over-the-top, nothing selfish about what was painfully depicted on screen in McQueen’s adaptation of the story of Solomon Northup. That is what made it so...