The Night I Rescued Ratzinger

02/12/2013 Comments (7)

Once I rescued an abandoned dog I found on the street and named him “Ratzinger.” He was a beagle,  like my beloved Susie, though it might have been hard to tell—since half of his fur was missing, he was covered in bleeding sores, and his ears were profoundly infected. He smelled awful, and had no interest in anything but eating. (I later learned from neighbors that his real name was “Homer” and that his jackass owners had left him in their yard, throwing him nothing but bowls of food.)  He was tied to a parking meter, covered by some well-wisher with a blanket,  and waiting for animal control to come pick him up and euthanize him.

I brought him into the house, spent a month’s rent at...READ MORE

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Crumbs Thrown by the King

02/02/2013 Comments (59)

I greeted with initial relief today’s news that the Obama administration might/maybe/possibly have loosened the terms of its administrative diktat on abortifacient and contraceptive “health care” to the point where the Catholic Church would not have to close down in America. I saw the Facebook reactions, as everyone breathed an initial sigh of relief, which soon dissipated as Catholic commentators rummaged through the details of the presidential edict, and found that not much had changed. A few more of the specifically religious institutions in the U.S. would be exempt from the mandate to violate their consciences, but not all of them—and there was no relief at all for private employers...READ MORE

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What Hate Really Means

12/27/2012 Comments (75)

I began to write a column for NCR about the murders in Connecticut, drawing out what they teach us about evil, and wondering whether (and how) it is fitting to pray for the murderer. Then as I continued to think things through, the column got way too long for the Register, so I posted it at the excellent think-site The Imaginative Conservative. I invite you to take a look.

This Advent seems as if we’d skipped straight over Christmas to the Feast of the Holy Innocents—though as that bleak story unfurled, I don’t recall that it led to a call for “sword control,” or fierce debates over whether every Israelite ought to be armed to resist such government tyranny.

Too bad, in retrospect,...READ MORE

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Salvation: The Bait and Switch

12/09/2012 Comments (28)

One of the best popular theologians today, Father Robert Barron, wrote a highly useful piece at Catholic News Agency last week on a topic most rarely think about: The number of the saved. Father Barron’s column reviews a new book by Ralph Martin: Will Many Be Saved?

This issue percolates in the back of my mind as I write apologetics. When you’re trying to win people over to the teachings of the Church or help shore up their faith, one of the trickiest questions is hell. We preach a perfectly loving, gracious God, who came down to earth to suffer horribly at the hands of men because he wants the salvation of all. The obvious, comforting way to interpret this is to say that God gets what...READ MORE

Filed under calvinism, catholic faith, free will, heaven, hell and purgatory, predestination, redemption, repentance, sin

An Advent Composition of Place

11/29/2012 Comments (1)

Last week, I issued a kind of misanthrope’s manifesto for Advent, encouraging various forms of devout, anti-social behavior under the pretext of seceding from a commercialized Christmas season. Comments both on the article and on Facebook suggest that a few readers took me too literally — in much the way that some misread my Bad Catholic’s Guide to Good Living, in which I advised that pious Americans adopt the Filipino custom and mark Good Friday with a genuine, non-lethal crucifixion or serve the kids a plate of Easter Bunny fricassee. But if you do, make sure not to skimp on the mustard.

Now it’s time to address the rest of you, those who are not in fact seeking excuses for avoiding...READ MORE

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An Advent Plan for a Non-People Person

11/21/2012 Comments (17)

To high-energy, sanguine, chipper citizens who like to step in and improve other people’s lives, the ever-earlier onset of the “Christmas” season is a gift from the baby Jesus. Now they can start before Thanksgiving to make up the lists of “improving” presents they will shower on friends and family: that diet book “you simply have to try,” the supply of intestinal bacteria cookies that will “knock out your Crohn’s disease,” that copy of The Theology of the Body your twice-divorced aunt cannot live forever without,  the Spanx your sister really should be wearing if she insists on leaving the house, the box of nicotine patches that could “add decades” to your aging dad’s life.


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Back to the Ghetto?

11/14/2012 Comments (32)

This election was not a defeat but a catastrophe. We on the Christian Right had hoped to save the natural law for our fellow Americans. Increasingly, it seems that they’ve refused our offer, that the U.S. has leaped 20 years closer to becoming just another fractious, Western, post-free country in decline — a vast, self-bankrupting Belgium.

Worthy voices are speaking up to remind us that cultures are not saved by governments, that we must rebuild and purify the Church before she can change the world, that our first task remains attaining holiness at home. Bravo to that. I don’t know anyone personally who neglected his family or faith to campaign for Republicans, but if that’s you, then...READ MORE

Filed under corruption, persecution of christians, virtues

Pro-Lifers Must Stop Being Pawns

11/08/2012 Comments (70)

Q: So why did the Republicans lose?

A: Their irresponsible policies. We knew, or should have known, that there was no good reason for the U.S. to invade and occupy Iraq; that building a Western liberal democracy in the Muslim world was a narcissistic daydream; that deregulating companies while insuring them as “too big to fail” was a recipe for bankruptcy. We knew better. But back in 2004 or 2006 our leaders had winning slogans, so we winked at their various fibs. Our fellow voters noticed. You can’t tout smaller government while trying to police the world—or save free enterprise through crony capitalism.  So when Americans were offered a more consistent policy of “socialism in one...READ MORE

Filed under 2012 elections, 2012 presidential election

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About Guest Blogger/John Zmirak

John Zmirak
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John Zmirak received his B.A. from Yale University in 1986, then his M.F.A. in screenwriting and fiction and his Ph.D. in English in 1996 from Louisiana State University. He has taught at Catholic and secular colleges, including Tulane University. He has contributed to American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought. He has served as Senior Editor of Faith & Family Magazine and a reporter at The National Catholic Register. His new book, The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Catechism, is now available. Check his new blogs and archived columns at The Bad Catholic’s Bingo Hall.