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This Is a Hard Teaching

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Suddenly, just as I was starting to get a little bit comfortable in my role as Brother Morgan in the New Order of Saint Francis at Saint Anthony’s Cathedral, an Ecumenical Catholic Church in Detroit, the children came. No one knows why the children came, and no one asked the children to come. They just…

Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone: Human Nature in a New Age

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“The audience doesn’t want to hear you make points,” insists Tracy Morgan in “The Comedian,” the first episode of the rebooted Twilight Zone series helmed by Jordan Peele. He might as well deliver the line with a wink, as that’s what the show has always done: critique human failings, and often, current events, in ways…

Poetry Friday: Before All Things

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Imagine the Gospel narrative taking place right in your home town, right now. How would you know what was going on? How would you react? This is what Tania Runyan imagines with delightful grace in “Before All Things.” In her telling, the key moments in the gospels happen almost simultaneously. First, Christ dies as “a…

Welcome Our New Robot Gods

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Recently at the ancient Kodaiji Temple in Kyoto, monks gathered to introduce a new version of an old deity: Mindar, an android embodying Kannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. Standing over six feet tall, most of her body the aluminum skeleton of a robot, bolts and rivets all on view, Mindar is honest about her…

So Who Mothers the Mothers?

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“So who mothers the motherswho tend the hallways of mothers, the spill of mothers, the smell of mothers, who mend the eyes of mothers” –Catherine Barnett, “Chorus” On Easter, I go to my son’s father’s house—Sundays are one of his days—and watch my son enjoy his basket, which I spun from thin air the night…

Good Friday in Brooklyn

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We hear it before we see it. Sometimes, it’s the somber snap of the funereal snare. Sometimes, it’s the ladies’ choral recitations of the rosary, scratching through a tinny speaker. Then there they are, processing past our apartment building. It is Good Friday, the day of Christian upheaval and ruined expectations, and in a moment,…

Poetry Friday: Lord of the hopeless also dear

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Lord of the hopeless also dear     Hat-Soak Pole-in-the-Canal and Red-Tie Father     Son And Holy Ghost not     in that order break The rottenness of those who torture one Of Thy least wrath-deserving exiles me Not     wholly undeserving     no     but some And isn’t it the some that counts with Thee O     Gondola also as the trees pass…

Speedboat and the Quest for Truth

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The cell phone on the conference room table in London buzzed in the middle of the meeting, and the man glanced down at it, mid conversation. “My God,” he said. “They’ve arrested Assange.” A block away, at the Palace of Westminister, protesters on the sidewalk held signs either for or against Brexit: “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!…

The Angel of History

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Angelus Novus by Paul Klee I met Angelus Novus, a Paul Klee image, through Walter Benjamin’s writings, inscribed in his verse like a ghost. Within the binding of his book, like all books, I found my way into another world, a door to Narnia that released me into twentieth century Europe. At the time, Jewish…

Holy Week: Love’s Paradox

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White Crucifixion by Marc Chagall  It helps to know where you’re going. Few of us ever do. My wife and I had taken the train to Würzburg, Germany, only to learn most of the tourist sites were closed for the day. We decided to make the best of it, taking in what gardens and historic buildings remained open, and…

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For the humanists of the Renaissance, literature mattered because it was concrete and experiential—it grounded ideas in people’s lives. Their name for this kind of writing was bonae litterae, a phrase we’ve borrowed as the title for our blog. Every weekday, one of the gifted writers on our blogging team will offer a personal essay that makes a fresh connection between the world of faith and the world of daily life, spanning the gap between theology and experience and giving language a human shape.

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