Life Imitates Art

04/25/2016 Comments (6)

A coconut crab (Image credit: Drew Avery, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I've always felt that evolution is so fascinating to its friends and foes alike, not only because it has real explanatory power for certain aspects of why organisms act like they do and are built like they are, but even more because evolution embodies one of the great mythic stories of the modern age. There is something enormously attractive about the plucky hero who overcomes various forces all bent on his annihilation, only to survive and prosper and see his children grow fruitful and multiply ("All dinosaurs from the enormous Brachiosaurs to the terrifying Tyrannosaurs trace their origins back to small bird-like reptiles like Coelophysis."). It's a great first act!

Equally great is the...READ MORE

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Even a Stopped Clock is Right Twice a Day

04/22/2016 Comments (6)

Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong (Image Credit: Scott Griessel, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

You may want to sit down for this, but once upon a time flamboyantly apostate Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong actually thrilled me with a prescient bit of insight into Scripture! How is this possible?

Well, there is a basic principle at work in the universe called the Gomer Pyle Axiom of High and Low Expectations. It works this way: when you expect great things from somebody, then merely above average performances are often denounced as disappointing failures. So, when Pixar, whose worst movies still tower over the junk Hollywood emits, makes Cars, people groan at what a weak effort it is, even though Cars still dwarfs 99% of all other movies and 99.9% of all other animated films.

But...READ MORE

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A Reader has a Question about the Canon of Scripture

04/18/2016 Comments (6)

(Photo Credit: markus 53, CC0, via Pixabay)

He writes:

I am debating a whole slew of Protestants, so I was reading your excellent article here.

The first myth you debunk is this:

"The deuterocanonical books are not found in the Hebrew Bible. They were added by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent after Luther rejected it."

You conclude that this is false because:

"The Septuagint, complete with the deuterocanononical books, was first embraced, not by the Council of Trent, but by Jesus of Nazareth and his Apostles."

In my oppo-research, I came across the disappointingly convincing article here.

Here, the author directly addresses your conclusion, quoting William Weber:

"Josephus not only gave the precise number of the...READ MORE

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A Reader Struggles with the Church's Teaching on Gay Marriage

04/15/2016 Comments (28)

A reader writes:

I am a cradle Catholic. Hetero. I have always felt strongly that the Church's doctrine has not caught up with the bio-science associated with homosexuality. I disagree with the Church's position, yet I am not going to become a homosexual (if that is even possible) to spite it. My own opinions are not relevant. I get that. But me having them does not make me a sinner, bad Catholic, or -- heaven forbid -- a Protestant.

For what it's worth, the Church has no doctrine about the biological or psychological origins of homosexuality.  It leaves such matters to the sciences and other disciplines to sort out just as it leave it to the relevant disciplines to sort out the origins...READ MORE

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In Defense of Theology

04/11/2016 Comments (6)

"Wow!," said my friend, looking up from his science magazine, "Did you know DNA is folded into each cell nucleus in your body in a very precise and compact way? It says here it's like 30 miles of spider web thread carefully folded into a cherry pit!"

I think this sort of thing is amazing too. But what strikes me funny is that the same friends of mine who just love to read this sort of thing in science magazines think nothing of dismissing theology as just so much "angels on pinheads trivia". Religion, they say, should be simple, not complex. They say this because moderns imagine religious truth as an airy speculation, unconnected to "real life", which somebody got a bunch of people to buy...READ MORE

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Don't be Afraid to Tell the Truth, God Can Take It

04/08/2016 Comments (3)

A man I know has grappled his entire life with self-hatred. And like salt in the wound, he has absorbed a notion which has only served to exacerbate all the suffering. Once, he told me, "I don't feel like I'm allowed to express any pain over how bad I hurt inside, because I'm a sinner and so anything I'm suffering is my fault anyway. That makes me angry, but then I think 'I can't be mad at God because being mad at Him suggests that He did something wrong, and since He's never wrong, it's wrong for me to be angry at Him.'"

Catch-22.

Many of us, like my friend, are walking bottles of pain and frustration sometimes, terrified that if any of it gets seen by God, He will nail us.

Scripture,...READ MORE

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What in the World?

04/04/2016 Comments (1)

A reader writes:

I'm wondering if you can either help me understand this or else point me in the right direction?

I have zero experience with Thomas Merton. But last August I picked up one of his books and it spoke to my heart. So you know I have to go and buy a Year with TM because much of what he says goes way over my head but the parts that don't are useful.

From this morning's meditation:

On March 3, 1951, he writes in his journal, I have come to the monastery to find my place in the world, and if I fail to find this place, I will ... There is a world which Christ would not pray for. But the world also was made by God and is good, and, unless that world is our mother, we cannot be...READ MORE

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Easter

04/01/2016 Comments (1)

MOST glorious Lord of Lyfe! that on this day
Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin;
And having harrowd hell didst bring away
Captivity thence captive us to win:
This joyous day deare Lord with joy begin;
And grant that we for whom thou diddest dye
Being with Thy deare blood clene washt from sin
May live for ever in felicity!

And that Thy love we weighing worthily
May likewise love Thee for the same againe;
And for Thy sake that all lyke deare didst buy
With love may one another entertayne!
So let us love deare Love lyke as we ought
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

- Edmund Spenser
 

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.