1 – Excuse #1
I didn’t write anything last week because I spent most of the day at [a high school] in Rhode Island, a Catholic all-boys’ school where I was invited as a guest speaker to four theology classes, all composed of juniors and seniors. It was great fun to put my teaching hat back on — teaching, I maintain, is a branch of performance art — and I was impressed by the spirit I saw in the students. There were lots of good questions, too. I’d love to have another chance like that.
2 – Excuse #2
I’m not writing anything this week because I’m sitting in a coffee shop and reading Evangelii Gaudium, and it’s nearly Christmas, and I’m tired, and I’ve got writer’s block, which as usual is not because I’ve got too little to say but too much. I don’t know how I’ll ever get it all out, and I can’t find a channel for it at the moment. All of my normal ones seem to be blocked up. Maybe I need more fiber. Mean time, I’m trying to redesign this site, too; details to follow, eventually.
3 – No News
I don’t have much to say about the Duck Dynasty guy. I don’t think he spoke out of bigotry, just out of ignorance. What he said doesn’t strike me as nearly as poisonous or bigoted as the response he got from A&E. So somebody said something ignorant about gay people. (1) This is news? (2) Why should we care? Most of the people I know have crazier opinions than his, but it’s not national news.
4 – By Attraction
I’ve been thinking a lot about evangelization and why I suck at it. My gut reaction, when I consider trying to evangelize a secular friend, is somewhere between discomfort and fear. I’d rather just let him be. Why is that?
Is it because proselytizing is one of the greatest 21st Century Sins? Is it because I’m afraid, Grand-Inquisitor-like, that teaching him about the Gospel will also be teaching him about sin, and sin means guilt? Is it because my own faith is too intellectual, and I’m afraid he doesn’t have the requisite 30 years it’ll take to transform all of his opinions into orthodox ones — even though that isn’t the point? I blame Pope Francis for making me think about these things.
5 – Two Masters
I’m going through Clean Of Heart. Again. This time I mean it. At one point the program requires you to compile a list of the typical lies that you tend to hear and believe re: sins of impurity. Things like It’s only natural (so is rubella) and It’s inevitable (so is death) and It’s not the end of the world (neither is herpes). The lie du jour seems to be something like: “God and sin can both live in your heart. Just make a lot of room for God and little room for sin.” But unfortunately there is Matthew 6:24 to contend with.
6 – Human Heresies
Here’s a half-baked thought for you. Some forms of religion are horrible and stupid because they are anti-human: because they abandon our best instincts and invent new, nonsensical ones instead. Like Puritanism, which is essentially anti-joy; or like Fundamentalism,1 which is essentially anti-reason. Both joy and reason are fundamentally human and fundamentally good, but somebody got it in their head that they had to be treated like Lies Of the Devil. Result? Miserable people.
7 – Diamond In the Flesh
Has anybody else been listening to Lorde? This is a very strange and world-weary way to be for somebody who is seventeen. Where did she come from? Does she dress so frumpily and dance so twitchily because she is countercultural or because she is, in fact, uncool?
She is really good at skewering the club scene (“I’m kind of over being told to throw my hands up in the air”) and clearly thinks it isn’t worth her time, but what is worth her time? Is it, The XX-style, just the usual adolescent romanticism but with a moodier aesthetic, or are those waters as deep as they sound?
I dunno, but Pure Heroine is a super solid album, deserving of at least a week’s obsession. I can’t wait to see what she does next.