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Showing posts from June, 2014

Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

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Leave it to the Catholic Church to dedicate a feast day to an internal organ. A cynic mutter, "What next? The Blessed Toe? The Immaculate Hangnail? The Miraculous Gall Bladder?" Such utterances notwithstanding, today marks the Church's celebration of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. Although understandably neglected by most of us - no children, after all, get an annual Sacred Heart vacation - it may be worthwhile to spend a few moments considering what it means to observe this solemnity so dear to the Society of Jesus. 

The symbolism of the heart is hardly foreign. Top-40 songs croon melancholically about the "broken heart." Students feel devastated when the college they had "set their heart on" sends them a rejection letter. As loved ones struggle with an issue, one feels "heart sick." In the Scriptures, "hardness of heart" prevents Pharaoh from allowing the Hebrew people to leave Egypt and keeps the crowds gathered around Jesus …

A dreadful thing...

Images of the sacred are necessary, but since they inevitably become stabilized, reverence can become fixed and shackled to them, in bondage to them. Religions spawn idolatry because we resist being reminded of the impermanence of our images, even those of the Holy. ~William Desmond, Philosophy and Its Others I begin this post with the above quote because, to my mind, it captures an essential aspect of what might be considered our contemporary tendencies toward idolatry. Normally, when we hear the word idolatry, we think of things like golden calves and statues of false gods. At its root, idolatry occurs when we place something finite in the place of the infinite. While I can't say I've had much of an impulse to forge a golden cow, I'll admit that there are times when I'm seduced by other "idolatrous" images present in the world: riches, being honored, being powerful.

It seems to me that many of us face the temptation toward idolatry quite frequently. No plac…

Scapegoating Donald Sterling

For those interested, a piece I wrote for the The Jesuit Post has gone live. It's a short essay drawing upon the thought of René Girard to look at some of the issues present in our media-fixation on the case of Donald Sterling.

Scapegoating Donald Sterling

That the World Might be Saved

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Two weeks ago, I took my five-year old nephew Quinn to see the new X-Men movie. Truth be told, I had no idea (1) if he'd like the movie or (2) if he'd be able to sit through it. Fortunately, there were enough action sequences to captivate his attention and he did manage to make it through the whole film. 
The film opens with a bleak depiction of the future: Sentinel robots have effectively destroyed the planet. Once-beautiful and flourishing cities have been ravaged and there remains but a glimmer of hope that, through the use of their mutant powers, the surviving X-Men work together to correct history. 
The X-Men narrative, like many superhero arcs, raises the question of a savior. Who is going to sweep in and rescue us from our woe? Who is it who has the power to stand up to the forces of evil, to resist the darkness, and lead us into the light? Superman. Batman. Wolverine. Wonder Woman. Spiderman. In each telling of the superhero's story, there emerges a figure willing …