Viva Il Papa!!

Strewn Seed

As I write this, Pope Benedict XVI is officially resigning his post as Pope and entering into a hidden life of prayer and contemplation on behalf of the Church he has shepherded for these past 8 years.  And while I know that the internet is currently being flooded with a series of tributes and critiques, I cannot help but throw my hat in the ring for this man and take the opportunity to express my gratitude before God for the graced years of his pontificate, years which now seem all too short.

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It seems funny to say, but the day of his election on April 19, 2005 remains one of the happiest of my life.  As soon as I heard the bells ringing outside my bedroom window on that beautiful spring day in Milwaukee, and my roommate burst the door to announce with bated breath that “We have a Pope!”…

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On Loving Sex [Part II]

Strewn Seed

In Part 1 of this post, I reflected on the hurdles that obstruct genuine conversation about sex and the body in contemporary liberal society.  Here in Part 2, I will attempt to identify the real fault-lines of the debate that need to be exposed if we hope to make any kind of progress.

If we were to finally have the discussion that we so urgently need to have about sex in this country, what would or should that conversation look like?  I think the fundamental question is really that of whether sex is good or bad.  The immediate assumption of most is that it is the ‘right’ that holds sex to be bad, and the ‘left’ that holds it to be good and very good.  Liberals love sex!  Traditionalists are afraid of it.  But appearances are deceptive here.

hippies   wagging_finger

Conventional wisdom sees the cultural left as the champion of…

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On Loving Sex [Part I]

Strewn Seed

[This post will come in two parts: in the first I will treat the difficulty of discussing these issue at all in a Liberal culture; in the second I will move on to consider what is fundamentally at stake in the contemporary cultural debate.]

In my last post, I offered a truncated argument in favor of the claim that feminism, if it were truly ‘feminism’, ought to oppose abortion insofar as ‘feminism’ claims to speak for the ‘feminine’, and the intimate bond between mother and child is intrinsic to feminity.  In so doing, I admittedly opened up a whole can of cultural worms in need of disentanglement, landing us quite at the heart of contemporary political controversy.

For we must admit that, for better or for worse, sex is a driving force in our culture, and lies, more or less conspicuously, at the center of our public…

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The NCAA and Our Need for Eternity

Strewn Seed

Any devotee of college athletics will readily grant the sobering truth.  Over the past few years, once venerable institutions have warped themselves out of recognizable existence in service of the almighty dollar: the Big 10 now claims sixteen teams, extending its reach to the eastern seaboard; the Big East is in shambles and possibly on the verge of annihilation; the Pac-10, previously the Pac-8, is now the Pac-12; and as I recently discovered, the carnage extends even to the [once-thought-pristine] realm of collegiate  hockey, where the treasured rivalries of the Western Conference will next year be sacrificed to lucrative television deals.  Is nothing sacred?!

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In the end, we can only face the truth: our world is marked by change.  There is no need to argue for the point.  It is an obvious fact of our existence, one that confronts us daily, and impinges upon us more than ever in this…

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Freedom and Theology

Strewn Seed

A few weeks ago I ran across an opinion piece in the New York Times on the precarious situation in Egypt. (Can God Save Egypt? – 12/12/2012)  The author, Thomas Friedman, described a billboard he saw on the way out of Cairo, plastered with the bold lettered prayer: ‘God save Egypt’.  The roadside intercession undoubtedly expressed an understandable sentiment in the suffering country now reaping the all-too-predictable fruits of revolutionary optimism, but Friedman questioned its underlying assumptions.  Is it really a matter of God that is at issue? Are there not equally devout people on both sides of Egypt’s political divide?  The real point of conflict is not one of theology but of the value of freedom. God will not save Egypt, he finally asserted, but rather believers in freedom who are willing to stand up against autocracy.

Egyptian demonstrators protest near Egyp

I found Mr. Friedman’s argument striking, and it has remained swimming…

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Good for Women?

Strewn Seed

This week marks the fortieth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade, which effectively legalized abortion across the United States.  This Friday, hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists will gather in Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life in witness to the estimated 55 million unborn children who have lost their lives to abortion since 1973.  Most of the politicians, of course, will have left town, the media cameras will be closely cropped around the handful of counter-protesters, and the newspapers will ambiguously report the “thousands” in attendance.   But from noon until about 3 in the afternoon, an endless stream of peaceful, mostly young protesters will file from the central mall to the Supreme Court steps in order to raise their voice for the most voiceless in our society.

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Noteworthy is the fact that leading this procession will be a group of thousands of women who…

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Christian Testimony

Strewn Seed

In today’s lectionary readings at Mass (Fri. 1/11), the Church offers us a pair of passages in which the term ‘testimony’ (marturion) makes an appearance.  In the selection from the 5th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the leper is instructed to give ‘testimony’ of his healing to the temple priests, and in the First Letter of John, we encounter two paradoxical assertions regarding the nature of this Christian ‘testimony’.

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First, we hear that the primary testimony to Christ is that of the unity of the “the spirit, the water, and the blood.”

“So there are three who testify,
the Spirit, the water and the blood,
and these three are one.”  (1 John 5:7-8)

Second, we are told that this testimony is somehow present within the Christian believer:

“Whoever believes in the Son of God
has this testimony within himself.”  (1 John 5:10)

These lines are indeed…

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