Archive for Timshel

Bird Brains and Screen Junkies

A friend shared a frightening article on social media the other day, on the terrifying effects of electronic gadgets on the minds of young children. Many parents today have a love-hate relationship with tablets, smart phones, computers, and game systems: they see educational benefits, entertainment options, and opportunities to reward or punish, but they also have an instinctive (if not firsthand) sense that time spent on these gadgets is not quality time and fosters ugly attitudes and habits in their progeny. But this article goes further, relating a story of a boy whose early and constant exposure to electronics put him

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Terrifying Tales of the Late Jack Chick

I grew up in the 1980s loving Halloween: carving fantastic faces in pumpkins and toasting the seeds, dressing up in homemade costumes, prowling the neighborhood scaring my friends and collecting candy and treats from our moms and assorted little old ladies. The only hint of Hell was on the news the night before: the annual bout of arson and mayhem in Detroit that had been dubbed Devil’s Night. Beyond that Halloween was, for me, good clean fun. But we kids had heard hints of another side to the sugar-fueled frivolity — of tampered candy and razor-infested apples, of pagan rites and

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‘Aesthetic Witnesses’: Using
Beauty to Build the Kingdom

“Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God.” – Pope Saint John Paul II The quote above is taken from Pope John Paul II’s “Letter to Artists,” published on Easter Sunday in 1999. I’ve been reflecting on that letter in terms of the saint’s call, beginning in the late 1970s, for a new evangelization, and also in the context of young Karol Wojtyla’s cultural resistance efforts with the Rhapsodic Theater during the period of Nazi control of Poland. The more I reflect, the more convinced I become that

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Mercy Is Not Accidental

Mercy as it is here contemplated is said to be a virtue influencing one’s will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another’s misfortune. It is the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that although mercy is as it were the spontaneous product of charity, yet it is to be reckoned a special virtue adequately distinguishable from this latter. … Its motive is the misery which one discerns in another, particularly in so far as this condition is deemed to be, in some sense at least, involuntary. Obviously the necessity which is to be succoured can be either of body

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Have We Become “Sin Eaters”?
or Catholic Answers on The Bomb

As a group, we’ve discussed more than once the morality of dropping The Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. I don’t know that we’ve ever reached consensus on the topic. In our deliberations, I have tended to speak less and listen more, since most of you are better read in both history and moral theology than I am — but I tend to think that dropping the bomb was a bad idea. Some might call it a “necessary evil,” but my basic understanding of Catholic morality suggests to me that there is no such

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Solid Intellectual Food In a Meta World

As my Junto brothers know, our eldest has been in the process of choosing a college. I have a 15-year history in higher education, as a student and marketing/communication professional, so it’s been interesting to see how different universities pitch themselves to prospective students. I’ve also been asked countless times where we want our teen to go: BigU? Ivy League? Catholic college (and if so, “Catholic” or, like, Newman Guide Catholic)? I have been decidedly unimpressed with most of the materials and approaches we’ve seen, but it wasn’t until this morning that I put my finger on exactly why. As providence would

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Only One Way Out

I had at least four ideas for posts this week, but only energy enough for this one. We live in a country on a downward spiral. The two front-runners in our current presidential race are, I fear, bad people. Not bad like they have bad ideas or  I don’t agree with them — though both of those things are true. Bad as in not good. As a country, we have enough experience and history with the Clintons to guess the sort of people they are: power-hungry, elitist, vindictive, and predatory. And the Donald makes no attempt to hide what he is: opportunistic, unprincipled, selfish, and

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‘Miserando Atque Eligendo’:
What Is the Holy Father Trying to Say?

“Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, ‘follow me.’” – Venerable Bede, commenting on the calling of St. Matthew the Apostle; the underlined text is the origin of Pope Francis’s motto, “Miserando atque eligendo.” It should come as no surprise to this group that I continue to be concerned about our Holy Father Pope Francis and the conflicting and conflicted coverage of his pontificate. For me, this is a practical preoccupation: on a regular basis, I encounter all sorts of people who want to draw nearer to

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The Son Who Stayed, Redux

This morning, in a motel room outside of Kansas City, I re-read Meddlesome’s post, “What Happened to the Son Who Stayed?” In many ways, that post and the discussion and posts that followed seem to have set the tone for the Junto’s approach to discussing Pope Francis—a tone that, I continue to worry, is at times not spiritually healthy for us. It’s not that I don’t share the Junto’s concerns about the confusion that has been caused around the Church’s teachings on marriage or find the Pope’s treatment of various cardinals baffling. (And I’ve ceased to try to make sense

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Charity Is Hard

“You don’t serve God by saying: the Church is ineffective, I’ll have none of it. Your pain at its lack of effectiveness is a sign of your nearness to God. We overcome this lack of effectiveness simply by suffering on account of it. To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness. Charity is hard and endures. I don’t want to discourage you from reading St. Thomas but don’t read him with the notion that he is going to clear anything up for you. That is done by

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