And now for something a little different…New article in VFW Magazine

Faith, theology, and church matters have always been the focus of my freelance work. But history has long been a side interest of mine. So earlier this year I decided to try exploring a bit in that area with my work. I’m glad I did, because I thoroughly enjoyed my first foray in this direction.

That effort is offered in this month’s issue of VFW Magazine. It’s an article on the Zimmerman Telegram, which played a significant role in pushing the United States into World War I exactly a century ago. The article is called “Telegraphing Treachery,” and you’ll find it here.

Working with VFW Magazine was a great experience, and I’m now at work on a second article for them, to be published in a few months.




Celebrating life at a Pennsylvania parish: my new article in The Priest

Every year on January 22, anti-abortion folks mark the anniversary of the 1972 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. The Catholic Church in the U.S. observes it formally as a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. And many activists, Catholic and otherwise, descend on Washington, DC, every year on that day for the annual March for Life.

Here’s my new article for The Priest magazine about one small U.S. parish’s approach the marking the day in a way that’s appealing, appropriate, and educational for kids and their families. Other parishes may wish to take up the idea.

Faith on film: A Man for All Seasons turns 50

On December 12, 1966, the film A Man for All Seasons premiered in New York City. This movie about Sir Thomas More, a Catholic saint who was martyred for his refusal to deny Church doctrine about marriage and the papacy, quickly became one of the year’s biggest hits and one several major Oscar awards.

My Our Sunday Visitor article marking the fiftieth anniversary of the film’s appearance is here.

On women deacons: seems we need a darn good reason not to

Following up on my previous post, I offer this thought: If an all-male, Vatican-appointed group of conservative scholars (and I do not use “conservative” as a negative) with a likely interest maintaining the status quo can spend five years studying scripture, doctrine, theology, and linguistics in considering the question of women deacons, and the strongest conclusion they can reach is one that  — in the words of its general secretary — “tend[s] to support the exclusion of this possibility,” well then, we might very well call that a resounding statement in support of women deacons. That’s because, given the cultural bias against the full dignity and personhood of women that marks most of Western history and current society, and which has been well-absorbed by Catholic life, thought, and practice, we should all be able to agree that there needs to be a blindingly clear and obvious reason not to open any role to women.

The baseline principle of any such discussion should be the equality of women, and the burden of proof should be on those wish to deny them anything at all.

If there’s a flaw in that line of thinking, I’d love to hear it.

Heroes: “not because they’re perfect, but because they’re not”

The National Catholic Reporter has published a great article recently (it’s been several days, but I’m still catching up after some vacation and business travel) on what authentic heroism, in context of Christian faith, is about. In her article, journalist Heidi Schlumpf graciously featured a book series into which I’ve invested a lot of time and thought in my work at Liturgical Press, called People of God. It’s a series of biographies of notable Catholics, written for the non-specialist reader, and it’s been great fun to work on the past couple of years.

Anyway, Heidi’s article includes a few comments from me. You’ll find that here.

Twitter, too!

Blogging has slowed here, as is clear. For an individual, relatively unknown writer, it tends to be not worth the significant time and effort it takes to provide consistent, quality posts. I had considered, for example, preparing a whole series of posts here on the new encyclical, but just thinking about the investment of time involved, compared to the number of people who would see them, was discouraging.

I’ll be here occasionally with updates and comments, but for more regular thoughts, follow me on Twitter. I’ve been having fun playing in those neighborhoods lately.

Young priests aren’t poor

A new article published at La Stampa‘s Vatican Insider website notes that ordinations to priesthood are up almost 25% this year over last year. That’s cause for thanksgiving.

I was a little amused, though, to read about this aspect of the issue in the article:

A uniquely American problem, however, is that of the debt from the “student loans”, money leant to them to help them pay their tuition fees and living costs and that is only repaid after graduation. “More than 26% of the priests ordained have student debt, at the time of entering the seminary the average owed per capita is 22,500 dollars”, explained Father W. Shawn McKnight, executive director of the Secretariat. He said that in the future they will need to find a way of helping future priests reduce their debts.

Sorry, but if the concern is repaying student debt, I’d say priesthood is the way to go. I’d be willing to bet that most young diocesan priests are paid more (when you factor in the free housing, insurance, groceries, etc) and have more disposable income than most other young people in their first 5 or 10 years out of college or graduate school.