Saint Thomas Becket is a fascinating figure. His story has all the ingredients for a great adventure story; a sort of “rags to riches” element (not, as he was fond of reminding people, that he was poor, but he did rise quite high for his social class); a close friendship with a great King turned suddenly sour; a man who undergoes an immediate and total transformation, turning from a life of pleasure to the single-minded pursuit of a great quest; an ending mixed with equal parts tragedy and triumph.
“Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” – 1 Peter 3:15
I have a confession to make. I love it when Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door. I’ve actually changed direction on the street to meet Mormon missionaries. Where many people hope not to have these encounters, I get excited. My wife is on board with this, thankfully!
In the process, I’ve been able to meet interesting people who are passionate about their faith. And each time I sit down, I get a chance to talk about my faith with them. Each time we finish, I feel like I understand my faith better, though not always in the way my new acquaintance might wish.
It has been some time since I have posted much of anything. As much as I love being a teacher, one of the downsides is that time becomes a scarce and precious commodity from September to June. Having a family only adds to that.
I wish I could say that I was breaking my silence with a long and meticulously planned post. In reality, I have only one, short, simple thought: God is good.
Eifelheim’s premise is a little zany. Aliens crash their spaceship in Medieval Germany, just outside a small village in the Black Forest. While one might expect ridiculous scenes of medieval knights fighting alien soldiers to fill the novel, nothing of the sort follows from this initial premise. Instead, the novel is a slow unfolding of a multi-layered plot which builds towards a conclusion that is not clear for most of the novel. The joy of Eifelheim is in experiencing this meticulously researched medieval setting coming into a complex intellectual and theological relationship with otherworldly visitors.
As Christmas draws near each year, it serves as an invitation to peoples of all stations of life. It is in this season above all that people experience the story of Christ, on some level, even if it’s just passing a nativity scene or seeing an advertisement for Christmas Mass. If people go but once a year to church, it’s likely over Christmas. Even the figure embraced as an icon of commercialism, Santa Clause, has deep roots in the Christian tradition.
A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. is the sort of book I wish I had known about sooner. A post-apocalyptic novel that tracks the fortunes of an abbey dedicated to St. Leibowitz (blessed Leibowitz at the beginning of the novel), A Canticle for Leibowitz is engrossing, amusing, and minutely detailed. It’s Catholic, it’s Science Fiction, and an award winning novel. What’s not to love? To be entirely futuristic, I listened to the audible audiobook version rather than reading it. Here are my thoughts.
I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me.
– Man in Black, Johnny Cash
In honor of Reformation Day, 500 years since Martin Luther’s theses.
Reformation day has always seemed a sombre sort of thing to me, even when I was a Protestant. I understand the desire to celebrate. From a Protestant perspective, Luther is the catalyst that makes it possible for later generations of Reformers to bring the fullness of the Gospel back into public consciousness. I’ve already seen a video in my Facebook feed celebrating his triumph over the “dark” “empire” of the Catholic Church, and remember how well I identified with that narrative.
In a month and some days, an event of monumental significance for history and the Christian faith will be commemorated. 500 years ago, Martin Luther wanted to stir up some discussion about the theology around indulgences. Like any good professor, he took a hammer and nails and went to the church door in Wittenberg and nailed up a set of 95 debating points, written in Latin. Someone took them down, translated them to German, and used the then state-of-the-art printing press technology to copy and distribute them. For good and ill, he sparked a conversation that radically reshaped Western Christianity, all of Europe, and from there through the colonial era, the world.
My wife and I recently celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary, and as part of the festivities we decided to dive into a genre of movie that we rarely watch: romantic dramas. As we surfed Netflix, we saw oodles of titles we’d never heard before juxtaposed against “romance” films that looked like mis-categorized action flicks. There seemed to be a lot of lesbian romances and films with pornographic promotional images in the mix. Christian Mingle jumped out at us. We giggled; it was bound to be terrible, but at least it would be cleaner than many of the alternatives.
Occasionally, I’m going to try to write a brief “check-in” covering the readings from my “read the Bible and Catechism in a year” plan. This should help keep me accountable and get me to think a little more deeply about the readings. We’re four readings in. My wife and I currently do them together after our daughter is in bed; once the school year starts, this will probably change.