In the state where I live sometimes it's hard to tell which is scarier,
Halloween or election day—a useful reminder that Christians are
constantly besieged both by supernatural powers and by the results of
our own sinfulness, whether individual or communal.
John Updike’s death in January left a giant hole in my reading life. He chronicled American culture during my lifetime in a way that I always found lucid and smart. He seemed to know about everything, from Søren Kierkegaard to Ted Williams. And I simply loved the way he wrote.
For most of canonical history, Mark's Gospel has been considered an ugly
duckling and its author a clumsy yokel. It can hardly be a coincidence
that this Gospel was recognized as a swan and its author newly
discovered as a literary genius after the development of sophisticated
cinematic technique prepared us to read it better.
It is impossible, I believe, to have another All Saints Day come and go
without recalling and giving thanks for those saints without
halos—family members, mentors and friends—who were gifts of God to us
and who now worship before the throne. Perhaps the first thing to do on
All Saints Day is to remember them and give thanks to God for their
presence in our lives.
I have a friend who was a college professor before she made the brave decision to leave the security of academia and strike out on her own as a writer. Once or twice a year she sends me two books and a nice note expressing her reluctance to add to the number of books I need to read—and her conviction that I will love these two. She is always right.
Michael Bransfield, Catholic bishop of West Virginia, seems to be taking his cues from the coal industry when interpreting Pope Francis’s recent encyclical Laudato si’, which calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels. Bransfield says the pope’s call for ending fossil fuel use is qualified: it should happen “only after” greater progress is made in using alternative fuels, and only where economically feasible. In fact, Pope Francis makes no such qualifications. Bransfield is also promoting the idea of