Scandal and Self-Definition: The Choice Between Fight or Flight

The past few weeks have been gut-wrenching for serious Catholics who must face the reality that the gates of hell had forged deeper inroads into the heart of the Church than our worst fears would have imagined. We wonder how much outrage we can take.  How many unsatisfying platitudes and knee-jerk one-liners we must endure in … Continue reading Scandal and Self-Definition: The Choice Between Fight or Flight

Unselfconcious Icons: The Hidden Power of a Good Example in an Age of Bluster and Bling

On an ordinary day in the Denver photofinishing plant where I worked as a personnel clerk many years ago, one of the department heads came running into the manager's office across the hall from mine. "Somebody just puked in the restroom!" he exclaimed. "The custodian's at lunch and there's nobody to clean it up!" "Who? … Continue reading Unselfconcious Icons: The Hidden Power of a Good Example in an Age of Bluster and Bling

Becoming Rememberers: How Wendell Berry Helps Us Grieve Our Time’s Tragic Tradeoffs

The only bookstore in the mountain valley where I live closed its doors this spring. We still have some stores that sell books around here, but you know what I mean. As jobs fade, families leave. Businesses fail. And now the bookstore has closed. The Narrow Gauge Newsstand stood on the corner of the main … Continue reading Becoming Rememberers: How Wendell Berry Helps Us Grieve Our Time’s Tragic Tradeoffs

Sigrid Undset’s Real Passion Revealed

Kristin Lavransdatter is enjoying a renewed readership. Last year's Audible release of the epic Scandanavian trilogy as a low cost audio odyssey has certainly helped. It's worth the time to make this magical masterpiece a slow read, letting medieval Norway sink into your bones while you grow your own soul by following Kristin's characters. If you're … Continue reading Sigrid Undset’s Real Passion Revealed

Memoir as Medicine: Recommended Recollections for Summer Reading

I love book lists.  On the other hand, I don't. I love them because I'm always looking for my next read, but lists of "must-reads" can also bring me down. There's never enough time to read everything I want to; I'm still missing out on the "essential reads" of a lifetime and I don't want … Continue reading Memoir as Medicine: Recommended Recollections for Summer Reading

Tolkien, Trees and a Naturalist’s Notebook: Noticing Nature Even as Mordor Looms

"In all my works I take the part of trees against all their enemies," J.R.R. Tolkien wrote late in his life.  The Master of Middle Earth even referred on one occasion to The Lord of the Rings as "my own inner tree." With springtime erupting everywhere, I've been reading Humphrey Carpenter's J.R.R. Tolkein:  A Biography.  … Continue reading Tolkien, Trees and a Naturalist’s Notebook: Noticing Nature Even as Mordor Looms

Science vs. Self-Centeredness! Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me-World

I'll never forget when, years ago in my counseling career, a young man in the community I where I worked committed a horrific, violent crime. But I also won't forget a Wednesday evening about two years after the tragedy when his name came up at church--where I was leading teenagers in a discussion about their … Continue reading Science vs. Self-Centeredness! Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me-World

Toward Authenticity in the Cultural Moment: Three Lessons from Dorothy Day

She never shied away from the contentions of political engagement.  She practiced what she preached, responding to the wretchedness of Depression-era poverty by co-founding a movement that established a newspaper, communal farms and "Houses of Hospitality" for the homeless.  She had an abortion as a young woman but would ultimately regret it and defend human … Continue reading Toward Authenticity in the Cultural Moment: Three Lessons from Dorothy Day

Flannery O’Connor Exposes Our Judgmental Hearts, Preparing Us for Grace

If there was a scripture haunting the protagonist of Flannery O'Connor's "Greenleaf," it was Romans 14:10. For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Religious without humility, Mrs. May--a widow intent on protecting her land--would offer a resolute, "I've worked, I have not wallowed" in the presence of her Judge. Then there's … Continue reading Flannery O’Connor Exposes Our Judgmental Hearts, Preparing Us for Grace

Conversion as Shrinking: Mrs. Zebedee, the Sons of Thunder and a Little Child

When James and John, the "Sons of Thunder," left their nets to follow Christ, their dad stood in the boat and watched them walk away. I've often wondered whether old Zebedee thundered or stood thunderstruck as James and John left the family business, choosing an uncertain future with the Fisher of Men over the inheritance … Continue reading Conversion as Shrinking: Mrs. Zebedee, the Sons of Thunder and a Little Child