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Brief, off-the-cuff, and sometimes light-hearted Catholic commentary, observations and announcements.

The first steps toward liturgical renewal by Phil Lawler - Wednesday

Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, has emerged as a champion of the traditional liturgy. But you don’t need to be a traditionalist to appreciate his list of ten steps to liturgical renewal, presented during a recent talk in Washington, DC. Personally, I would make his...

Boycott Apple? No; the effort is doomed to fail. by Phil Lawler - Wednesday

Amid the furor over Indiana's religious-freedom law, the expressions of outrage by self-righteous liberal moralists, and the threats to boycott the state, I hear rumblings about a counter-boycott. If Apple Computer is going to boycott a state that respects religious freedom, should religious...

Why homosexuals need not worry over the Indiana law by Phil Lawler - Tuesday

It’s fashionable this week to hyperventilate about Indiana’s new law protecting religious freedom. So it was refreshing to see a reasonable, sane assessment in an AP piece that began: Religious freedom laws like the one causing an uproar in Indiana have never been successfully used...

Surrogate parenthood = exploitation of desperate women by Phil Lawler - Friday

Elle (“The Body”) Macpherson is expecting a baby, the tabloids tell us. The supermodel, who is currently married to a billionaire, is reportedly ready to expand her family. But there’s a problem. Elle Macpherson is now 51 years old: beyond normal child-bearing age. Ah, but...

Scientific Evidence for the Creator by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 26, 2015

Back in 2012 I wrote an extensive review of Fr. Robert J. Spitzer’s impressive book, New Proofs for the Existence of God (see Proving God). Spitzer examined both scientific and philosophical proofs, and he did a brilliant job, but his book was not targeted at the casual reader. That’s...

A request for help from our unregistered followers by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 25, 2015

CatholicCulture.org faces an unusual challenge this month. We have critical bills that will cripple our apostolate if they are not met by March 31st. But we find ourselves $8,000 short of being able to meet those expenses. Those who interact with us primarily through social media are generally...

Catholic movie watching is more important than watching Catholic movies by Thomas Van - Mar 25, 2015

America magazine has published an interview with Catholic film critic Steven Greydanus. Greydanus, now a candidate for the permanent diaconate in the Archdiocese of Newark, writes for the National Catholic Register and Crux as well as on his own website, Decent Films. The...

Cardinal Kasper: Will flattery get him somewhere? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 25, 2015

Did you notice the second half of our news story on Cardinal Walter Kasper’s request for prayers? The Cardinal was introducing a new book. Kasper wanted prayers “because a battle is going on”—the battle to shape a position on divorce, remarriage and the Eucharist...

Some cardinals may fear blackmail by Phil Lawler - Mar 24, 2015

Almost exactly a year ago, Robert Mickens was suspended from his post as Vatican correspondent for the London Tablet, after he showed his contempt for Pope Benedict XVI with a Facebook comment that he was looking forward to “the Rat’s funeral.” Usually Mickens was more discreet,...

OTG: A blacklist for Catholic universities by Thomas Van - Mar 24, 2015

Earlier this month, almost 400 U.S. corporations filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in favor of same-sex marriage. Since many universities give commencement honors to business leaders every year, the Cardinal Newman Society has released a statement urging Catholic schools not to...

Are atheists afraid? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 20, 2015

Writing in the Guardian on March 3rd, John Gray addressed what is becoming an increasingly common theme: The concern among atheists that religion is growing, not diminishing, around the world. Along the way, Gray skewers not only the idea that atheism is the wave of the future but the notion that...

The Church of Williamson and the Futility of the Necessity Defense by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 19, 2015

Bishop Richard Williamson’s ordination of a new bishop for his relatively new breakaway church is a case study in the separatist principle, and an illustration of the absurdity of the “necessity defense”. This is not the first splintering among those who fail to understand the...

If a parish worker is under investigation: a pastor's dilemma by Phil Lawler - Mar 19, 2015

Today’s headline story leaves some key questions unanswered, and the problem outlined below might not apply. So let’s make this a purely hypothetical case: Imagine that you are the pastor of a Catholic church. You are notified by local police that one of the teachers in your...

Easter volume released for this liturgical year by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 19, 2015

Easter falls on April 5th this year, and so the Easter volume of our ebook series for the 2014-2015 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This fourth volume in the annual series covers the entire Easter season, from the Easter Vigil (April 4th) through Pentecost (May...

Climate-change heretics and Al Gore's inquisition by Phil Lawler - Mar 18, 2015

In today’s America, no one—not even one of those nasty old Christian fundamentalists—would propose punishment for people who do not accept the truths of the Bible. Yet Al Gore—who was very nearly elected President of the United States just a few years ago— has now...

The early printing press: not just a means of spreading Protestantism! by Thomas Van - Mar 16, 2015

Catholic artist Daniel Mitsui has begun a series of articles "On the Catholic Art of the Printed Book," which illuminates (pun intended) yet another beautiful genre of art from the Catholic late Middle Ages and Renaissance. There are two parts in Mitsui's series so far. The...

The Apostolic Age opens Easter night on NBC by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 16, 2015

Following the massive popularity of the 2013 miniseries The Bible, NBC will air a 12-part sequel, A. D. The Bible Continues. The original series, produced by husband and wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, aired in 2013 on the History Channel. A. D. The Bible Continues will premiere this...

Compensation for eugenics victims: Good, but what of present evils? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 16, 2015

When the Virginia General Assembly voted to compensate victims of forced sterilization in February, Virginia became the second State to make payments to those who had been harmed by the eugenics laws that were so popular in the early 20th century. Over 30 states forcibly sterilized those they...

The Pope's conservative critics: Douthat's useful taxonomy by Phil Lawler - Mar 13, 2015

Who Are Pope Francis’s Critics? asks Ross Douthat of the New York Times. At the start of his perceptive analysis, he points out that while the blogosphere is alive with the angry words of conservative/traditionalist Catholics who distrust or even despise the Pontiff, there is no evidence that...

Want to fix the liturgical music in your parish? Here's how. by Phil Lawler - Mar 13, 2015

The news that Jean Vanier has won the 2015 Templeton Prize reminded me that my friend Paul Jernberg met Vanier years ago, and the encounter was instrumental (no pun intended) in rousing Paul’s interest in sacred music, and his appreciation of chant. Long-time readers of the Catholic Culture...

And if you don't think things have changed for the better... by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 12, 2015

I cannot speak for the entire world, but if you don't think things have changed for the better in the Catholic Church in the United States, all you need to do is read this news story: Virginia bishops back pastor who broke with K of C council over honor for pro-abortion...

Gertrud von Le Fort: Tracing our tangled approach to God by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 12, 2015

The Baroness Gertrud von le Fort (1876 - 1971) was a remarkable German Catholic novelist and poet. She studied under the brilliant and highly-influential Protestant philosopher of religion, Ernst Troeltsch, whose works she edited. But von le Fort herself converted to Catholicism in 1926. Her...

Miscellany: on Irish nationalism, no-fault divorce, and a curious Vatican cover-up by Phil Lawler - Mar 11, 2015

Catching up on some interesting commentaries that have appeared recently on other sites: In the Irish Catholic, the always insightful David Quinn observes that Ireland’s major political parties are alienating Catholic voters, with interesting consequences especially in Northern...

On same-sex marriage, the Irish bishops are inoffensive by Phil Lawler - Mar 10, 2015

“Marriage is important—Reflect before you change it.” That, believe it or not, is the title of a statement released today by the Irish bishops’ conference, regarding the country’s May referendum on same-sex marriage. Nowhere in the full statement do the Irish...

The stumbling block of morality on Self-Deprecation Day by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 6, 2015

I proclaim today Self-Deprecation Day. I like ideas. God knows the reader must look hard to find commentary on concrete and newsworthy circumstances in my collected works. Even when I write about current events, I often manage to evade the responsibility of specific knowledge. Take last...

A thin-skinned Vatican spokesman harms his own standing by Phil Lawler - Mar 5, 2015

Father Thomas Rosica works with the Vatican press office, and is sometimes quoted by the English-speaking media as a spokesman for the Vatican. So you might take it for granted that he has some understanding of the field of public relations. You’d be wrong. Hounded by an obscure Canadian...

Social Media’s Vanity Fair: Danger on every side! by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 4, 2015

When Russian Patriarch Kirill of Moscow criticized the vanity inherent in social media, he didn’t know the half of it. And that’s not a knock on social media; it’s a knock on life. Listen, there will always be people who go on endlessly about nothing (much as I’m doing...

Two links - moral relativism in elementary schools and charges of "genocide" in the Old Testament by Thomas Van - Mar 3, 2015

Today I read two articles which should both be of interest to our readers, albeit for different reasons. First, in an NYT blog piece called "Why Our Children Don't Think There Are Moral Facts," philosopher Justin P. McBrayer shows that while we might think young people are...

Don’t touch that Smile! Helping CatholicCulture.org by shopping on Amazon. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 2, 2015

Amazon SMILE is a nice program to support the charity of your choice. But it is all too easy to wipe the smile off the face of your designated charity if you try to help in the wrong way. The reason is that the SMILE program pales into insignificance if your favorite charity is also an Amazon...

Ad Imaginem Dei: a gem of a blog on Christian art by Thomas Van - Feb 28, 2015

Readers who wish for an entry point into the vast (and sometimes intimidating) domain of Catholic sacred art may want to take a look at Margaret Duffy's blog, Ad Imaginem Dei. The blog, which has been active since 2008, focuses on Western Christian art, taking liturgical readings as a...

Notre Dame has lost two contrasting giants by Phil Lawler - Feb 27, 2015

On successive days, death has claimed two giant figures in the history of America’s most iconic Catholic university: two revered men, with very different ideas about that university’s proper role. The death of Father Theodore Hesburgh on February 26 will claim headline coverage, and...

Two good publishers, six new books for Lent by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 26, 2015

I try to follow the new titles coming out from both Ignatius Press and Sophia Institute Press, because I trust the judgment of these Catholic publishers. Particularly in the realm of spirituality, they will typically make sure their authors are firmly rooted in the Catholic tradition, and they...

Another awkward 'clarification' from the Vatican by Phil Lawler - Feb 25, 2015

Every reasonable person understands what Pope Francis meant when, in a private message to a friend in Argentina, he used the term “Mexicanization” to refer to the troubles of a country torn by drug trafficking. Among other things, we understand that the Pope did not intend this message for public...

Solidarity Campaign: Going well, thanks! And how can you help? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 25, 2015

When I decided to stress solidarity as the theme for February fundraising, I did not know how popular it would be. The idea is to stress participation rather than wealth. It is not so much how much you can give, but whether you are willing to lend a helping hand to our mission. To emphasize...

The dangerous slide toward further US military involvement in the Middle East by Phil Lawler - Feb 24, 2015

The gruesome record of atrocities committed by the Islamic State, and the urgent need to save our fellow Christians from persecution, explain the growing support for US military action, recorded in this Pew Research survey. Supporters of some sort of US military intervention now outnumber...

Do Christians need to defend "religion"? by Thomas Van - Feb 24, 2015

Over at Aleteia, David Mills comments on the oft-repeated cliche that religion has been the source of manifold evils - wars, persecution, bigotry, superstition, etc. Rather than trying to disprove that claim, Mills points out how absurd it is for Christians (or indeed members of any particular...

Sex in Leviticus by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 23, 2015

The Book of Leviticus is a tough read, filled with both ritual and moral prescriptions. The two are closely connected, but it is not always obvious where ritual holiness ends and moral holiness begins. For example, the rule outlawing those who “kill” or “slaughter” an...

Can the 'new evangelization' succeed while cradle Catholics are leaving in droves? by Phil Lawler - Feb 20, 2015

Writing in the Catholic Herald, Stephen Bullivant suggests that we should “Put the New Evangelisation on Hold until we try to figure out what is causing a mass exodus of cradle Catholics from the Church. Bullivant is addressing a British audience (did you notice the “s” in...

More thoughts on the #ashtag meme and the message it sends by Phil Lawler - Feb 19, 2015

Yesterday—Ash Wednesday—I wrote that I am baffled by the popularity of the #ashtag meme. Maybe it would have been more accurate to say that I am fascinated by the phenomenon. Why do so many Catholics want to show off the smudges on their foreheads? Several kind readers have offered...

Confused California congressmen condemn Cordileone by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 19, 2015

Okay, I admit to a fondness for alliteration. But it is just as well. The California lawmakers are not actually congressmen. Five are members of the “assembly” (an A word) and three are “state senators” (an SS word). Moreover, they did not condemn San Francisco Archbishop...

Philosophy as antidote to anger and fear by Thomas Van - Feb 19, 2015

At the Huffington Post, Michael Shammas has written an excellent blog piece calling for a renewal of philosophy education in high schools. American politics is increasingly characterized by fear, anger and bitterness; according to Shammas this is caused at root by "the iron certainty we...

I'm not upset about the #ashtag meme; I'm just baffled by Phil Lawler - Feb 18, 2015

Why is Ash Wednesday—not Easter Sunday, not Christmas, not Good Friday or Pentecost—the day when American Catholics spend the most time talking about being Catholic? Why is it that, after hearing a reading about doing penance in secret, people feel a compulsion to show the world how...

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