Jesus’ Knowledge in the Storyline of Matthew’s Gospel

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Fr. James Martin finds himself one of the most popular public Catholics today, and, as a Jesuit tacking a bit left on the issues confronting the Church today, also finds himself embroiled in controversy. Some time ago he put forth a common reading of the story of Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21–28. The woman asks Jesus … Read More

The Ascension of the Lord according to St. Mark’s Gospel

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From my forthcoming work on Mark’s Gospel, Loosing the Lion, in which I try to tie the longer ending into Mark’s story: ——————– Mark 16:8 seems a weird way to end a Gospel, and so scribes in the early Church concocted triumphant endings to Mark out of material from the other Gospels and Acts, giving us Mark 16:9-20. Although the … Read More

Early Christians On Abortion

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Nick Kristof, a NYT columnist, recently claimed Christian opposition to abortion is a recent development: My column: Conservative Christianity’s ferocious opposition to abortion is relatively new. — Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) May 7, 2017 He’s mistaken. It may be true to an extent in regard to twentieth-century fundamentalist and evangelical circles–Francis Shaeffer certainly did much to convince his fellow evangelicals of … Read More

AyJay on Liturgy

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Alan Jacobs of Baylor and my former colleague at Wheaton on liturgy: I only attended low-church evangelical congregations for a few years after I became a Christian, but those were tough times for me, and more than once along the way I wondered if I had made a big mistake by trying to follow Jesus — at least, through trying to … Read More

Feast of Saint Irenaeus, My Confirmation Saint

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Reupping this from a couple years ago, as it’s St. Irenaeus’ day today, and I have a special devotion to him. ——————- Today is the feast of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, whom I chose as my confirmation saint when I was reconciled with the Church and confirmed Easter 2011. The father of Roman Catholic theology and a dedicated opponent of … Read More

The Virgin, by William Wordsworth

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Mother! whose virgin bosom was uncrost With the least shade of thought to sin allied. Woman! above all women glorified, Our tainted nature’s solitary boast; Purer than foam on central ocean tost; Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn With fancied roses, than the unblemished moon Before her wane begins on heaven’s blue coast; Thy image falls to earth. Yet … Read More

Here ends the lesson

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[NB: The homily preached at Brett’s funeral 11-14-2015, Pierce Chapel, Wheaton College. The first reading was from the Book of Wisdom, the Anglican response to which, as it is deuterocanon, involves not “the word of the Lord/thanks be to God” but simply “Here ends the lesson” and silence.] Here ends the Lesson. No response is made. The reading starts in proclamation, … Read More


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Gnosticism is the perennial Christian heresy that says matter, and thus bodies, is evil. It’s a form of Platonism on steroids. Plato’s mouthpiece Socrates on several occasions speaks about the body as the prison of the soul, and also as death as the soul’s liberation from the body. Prisons are not nice places, and places from which one needs liberation … Read More

Funeral for a Friend

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Death scatters, so some scattershot thoughts… The funeral liturgy (Anglican) was lovely. The Latin requiem was most welcome. A Walhout youth played the cello perfectly. Closing hymn was SLANE=Be Thou My Vision. Wonderful. I couldn’t sing any of it, but I let the sound wash over and through me. Why, I ask myself, does every single Christian tradition, from Pentecostal … Read More

Brett Foster, RIP

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Brett Foster was my best friend at Wheaton College. Brett was roughly my age. Brett died last evening of cancer. Brett was an accomplished academic of multiple talents: a poet himself, a translator of medieval & Renaissance Italian poetry, and an expert in Shakespeare. Those three points don’t quite cover all that Brett could do. From Italy to England, from … Read More