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Scientific Inquiry and the Catholic School

In September of 2016, a Catholic school in inner city Detroit opened a $15 million STEM building. In a city known more for its economic woes and racial unrest, it is remarkable that a Catholic school would raise such an enormous fund from private donors for a building dedicated to the study of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Has the Society of Jesus, which sponsors the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy, finally recognised what so many of the new atheists would have us believe, that we should abandon the study of theology and dedicate ourselves exclusively to the pursuit of science and technology? More waggishly posed: Why build a chapel when you could build a chemistry lab?
During my years as a secondary school teacher, students were often gob-smacked when I emphasised, over and again, that religion and science, faith and reason, were not at odds with one another. ‘Yes, lads, you can be a thinking believer!’ Indeed, I insisted that both the…

Homily, Fifth Friday of Lent

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Readings:

Jeremiah 20:10-13
Psalm 18:2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 7
John 10:31-42



“Sin,” Fleming Rutledge observes, “is not so much a collection of individual misdeeds as it is an active, malevolent agency bent upon despoiling, imprisonment, and death – the utter undoing of God’s purposes.” Rutledge continues, “misdeeds are signs of that agency at work; they are not the thing itself. It is the ‘thing itself’ that is our cosmic Enemy.” Albeit embarrassing, there is something immediately consoling about the enumeration of one’s sins. With little effort, all of us can recall the "usual suspects" heard in the confessional: pornography and masturbation, excessive eating and drinking, anger, gossip, ingratitude, not being faithful to prayer, taking the Lord’s name in vain, etc. You get the picture: we have a whole catalogue we can pick and choose from. Yet I am aware of a temptation to “explain away” sin – within myself and for those who come to the Sacrament of Penance – by describing sin as not…

Quick Update

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It's now three months since my last post. It's been a quiet period of study (I'm reading like a madman as I research my dissertation topic) and a lot of travel for music and for two funerals.

As an update: I'm moving to John Carroll University in a few weeks (May 24th) where I'll live as I write my dissertation. I'm excited to move home to Cleveland and to be with good friends and family.


And, in case anyone is interested in my academic work, here's a link to my profile on Academia

Homily on the Epiphany

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Every great adventure, every groundbreaking discovery, begins with a question. “Will you marry me?” marks the beginning of the journey of married life. “What if I mix this chemical with that chemical?” or “Hmmm, that’s funny, I wonder why…” kick off scientific explanation. “I wonder if this dish would taste better with bacon?” Well, that question never need be asked: the answer, invariably, is yes.   Now, compare the excitement of an inquisitive person with someone who is totally closed off to new things. Such people see no need to ask questions because they are comfortable with the way things are. They have made up their mind, they rest assured in their convictions, and they stand convinced that they see things as they really are. They are fine with the status quo and grow frustrated when people around them ask too many questions or make suggestions that would require them to change their lives in any way. My mind goes, immediately, to a figure like Archie Bunker. Matthew’s account of…

Whistle Priest: Father O'Flynn's Jig Tutorial

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The Liturgy is Useless, Not Pointless

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I had the occasion recently to chat with a former student whose family I've come to know rather well over the years. Our conversation ranged over a number of topics and eventually I asked him about the campus ministry program at his university. His vague and somewhat stuttering response prompted me to ask, "Well, do you ever go to Mass on campus?" His response was disappointing but not surprising, "No, not really. I just don't get anything out of going any more."

I've written before that I think it one of the salutary features of the Mass to be boring. From morning to night, I am bombarded by a constant stream of texts, Tweets, Facebook messages, phone calls, and emails. I turn to edit an article and find myself moving the cursor to my web browser and reading an article; I decide I want to pray for fifteen minutes and discover that I waste the time looking for a perfect piece of music to accompany my meditation. I go for an evening stroll, deciding to …

Creeping from Great Silence

Since the end of April, I have been a full-time reader in preparation for my PhD comprehensive exams. Many times have I wanted to return to the blog but, with each stir of desire, a more disciplined voice called back: Ryan, keep reading! So I obeyed.

Apart from one posted homily and a few videos, I've been diligent in my studies. The hard work, I hope, will pay off in 27 days when I sit for my exams. I've read an awful lot these months and I hope to show to my examiners that my time has been well spent.

For those who read this, I did rejoin Twitter: @WhistlePriest is my handle, or name, or whatever it is called. Feel free to follow me there. I can't say that I spend much time on social media or that I'll Tweet much, but if you follow the Tin Whistle videos this may be a help to you.

God willing, in a month, I'll be without the stress of comps upon me and will be able to resume writing again!