Arguing Religion and the Search Engine of the Soul

I used to teach the art of argument to college freshmen. We read classic texts on the great questions of the centuries and debated our views in passionate discussion laced with laughter and an occasional angry flare. Students then constructed written arguments clarifying their thought and defending their positions. Essay by essay, they honed their … Continue reading Arguing Religion and the Search Engine of the Soul

Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan’s Beatitudes for a Political Leader

"Put not your trust in princes," the psalmist advised long ago. People didn't choose their leaders back then, so they were, on a material level, absolutely beholden to a king's whims for good or ill. The psalmist reminds them of the human tendency to view the world from a material point of view only, forgetting … Continue reading Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan’s Beatitudes for a Political Leader

Loathing and Hopelessness, Juice and Joy: Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Secret Sorrow

"Outwardly I think I am employed to what is of no or little use," Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote in his journal just months before his death. "I was continuing this train of thought this evening when I began to enter on that course of loathing and hopelessness which I have so often felt before..." I … Continue reading Loathing and Hopelessness, Juice and Joy: Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Secret Sorrow

The Tao or the Wow: How Ancient Texts Rehumanize the Heart

The tension in many a good story centers on a hero's struggle, as opposition mounts, to remember his identity or to recall her mission. Succumbing to Sirens and Circes is perilous and treasure greater than victory awaits the unwavering. In Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, for instance, Meg Murry's mission is to rescue her … Continue reading The Tao or the Wow: How Ancient Texts Rehumanize the Heart

Lamenting Notre Dame’s Losses: “Heaven in Stone and Glass”

When I heard, on Tuesday of Holy Week, that Notre Dame Cathedral was engulfed in flames, I immediately texted my oldest son, the family's intrepid world traveler who had just returned from Paris and had visited Notre Dame only days before. (We differ philosophically, but he graciously allowed me to share his photos in this … Continue reading Lamenting Notre Dame’s Losses: “Heaven in Stone and Glass”

Aslan, Ashes and Jonah: the Incredible Opportunity of a Lenten Prophetic Witness

One of my favorite moments in The Chronicles of Narnia occurs in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when Aslan, the golden-lion Christ figure, breathes life into creatures who had been turned to stone by the White Witch. Having released the statue-captives from bondage, Aslan immediately prepares them for battle: The stone lion Aslan … Continue reading Aslan, Ashes and Jonah: the Incredible Opportunity of a Lenten Prophetic Witness

Tracking the Transcendent: Four Physicists Open to Its Possibilities

"Most educated people are not religious," a friend remarked to me the other day when the subject of faith came up in conversation. What troubled me most about his comment was its case-closed lack of curiosity about the transcendent realm. Whatever his source for adopting such a stance, if this bright young man allows the … Continue reading Tracking the Transcendent: Four Physicists Open to Its Possibilities

Galileo’s Daughter Meets God and the Astronomers: When Faith and Science Confront Infinite Mystery

Science, faith and love: each a mystery worthy of a human mind's complete preoccupation. Their interplay is enchanting in Galileo's Daughter, a historical memoir masterfully woven by former New York Times science writer Dava Sobel. I've owned the book since it was first published but it remained on my shelf until last summer, when keeping a … Continue reading Galileo’s Daughter Meets God and the Astronomers: When Faith and Science Confront Infinite Mystery