Family, Culture, Holidays

12/04/2014 Comments (10)

C.S. Lewis once wrote an essay describing a far-off land called "Niatirb" ("Britain" spelled backwards) where two feasts seemed to be held on the same day: "Christmas" and "Xmas". The distinction between the two feasts seems to hold in the US too. This is reflected in our holiday entertainment fare, with some interesting results that lie in various places along a sort of spectrum from "Christmas" film at one end to "Holiday" film at the other.

Consider perhaps the greatest American Christmas film: It's a Wonderful Life. It is chock full of Frank Capra's Italian Catholic practical piety which was much more interested in "doing something for the little guy" than it was in theological...READ MORE

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Celebrating Advent in a Culture of Fear

12/01/2014 Comments (61)

Old Soviet Joke: A new Politburo member is going through his new office drawers and finds two envelopes addressed to him. One envelope says "Open me when you have your first major crisis." Some weeks later, tractor production drops sharply, the New Politburo member is blamed, and he's in deep trouble. He remembers the envelope, opens it and reads, "BLAME THE CURRENT CRISIS ON ME, YOUR PREDECESSOR." He does so, and his job is spared. However, there remains the second envelope, which reads, "Open me when you have your second major crisis."

Sometime later, a tractor factory in Minsk explodes and the New Guy gets the blame again. He rushes to read what’s in the second envelope. It says,...READ MORE

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A Few Gratitudes

11/27/2014 Comments (1)

The center of our Faith is Eucharist. Eucharist means “thanksgiving”. That means that the center of our Faith is thanksgiving. It is in the form of a thanksgiving meal that our Lord chose to make Himself present to us. And He did so, shockingly, “on the night He was betrayed”. In other words, he defiantly gives thanks and praise to His Father in precisely the place where we humans immediately turn to make the most obvious case for atheism—the place where the enraged atheist cries out and says, “If there is a loving God, why do the innocent suffer horrors and die in torments with nobody to help them?” Jesus was that innocent one. A few hours after His defiant act of thanks, He would sweat...READ MORE

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Herding Cats

11/23/2014 Comments (20)

Truly Reformed[TM] Protestantism suits a particular personality type: the sort of person who likes diagrams, neat hand-writing, little lists of facts, mathematical formulae, and a certain kind of precision. In its own limited sphere, Truly Reformed Christianity is handy because its love of diagrams, rigorous logic and TRVTH tends to breed apologists who are fit foils for the mad men who have lost everything except their reason, such as the New Atheists. The intense focus on either/or thinking that so dominates the binary logic gates of the Truly Reformed brain can be very helpful in answering truly either/or questions such as “Does God exist or not?” So Reformed folk can be lethal in debate...READ MORE

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Paranoia is the Serious Business of Heaven: New Horizons in Conspiracy Cinema

11/21/2014 Comments (12)

One of the many advantages Christians have over those who live in the world is the range to which we can extend our angst. Secularists, forced by their own principles to live in a one-floor ranch style universe, inevitably wind up wasting time on neuroses which are small beer in the Grand Scheme of Things. That's why a secular media is unable to conceive of any higher conspiracy than the hackneyed "Who Killed JFK?" question.

But suppose Oliver Stone was a good Fundamentalist filmmaker with a truly cosmic conspiratorial perspective. Then we might be reading film reviews like this:

Stone Breaks the Silence on the Silent Planet

Whether you love him or hate him, agree or disagree, you've got...READ MORE

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The Glory and Peril of Music

11/16/2014 Comments (13)

To somebody thinking about postmodern culture, one of the most fascinating passages in the New Testament is Titus 1:12: "One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."

What is fascinating is not the slam on ancient Cretans, but the fact that Paul refers to the Cretan poet Epimenides as a "prophet." I think this fascinating because Epimenides was, among other things, what we would today call a poet or songwriter, not an inspired biblical prophet, as Paul well knew. In short, Paul recognizes the enormous power to lead and sway that a poet like Epimenides enjoyed.

It is, of course, a truism that music in praise of limitless sexual...READ MORE

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Why We're Called the Catholic Church

11/13/2014 Comments (13)

G. K. Chesterton once remarked that Catholics agree about everything; it is only everything else they disagree about. That is to say, Catholics (and by this he meant "Catholics who know and believe their Faith") agree on a few cosmic truths summarized in the creeds, prayers, sacraments, and common life of the church. However, when it comes to the rest of human existence they not only disagree with one another, but take a rather gleeful pleasure in doing so.

I was reminded of this quite vigorously when, once upon a time, I wrote a review of the action flick The Matrix. I argued -- and still believe -- that this incredibly violent science-fiction film was, in fact, remarkably well-informed...READ MORE

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Intellectual Fisticuffs: Some Thoughts on the Apologetics Subculture

11/10/2014 Comments (47)

In 1998, I was asked to give a talk at my parish on my conversion to the Catholic Faith.  The local Catholic bookstore set up a table of various materials on the Catholic faith and as I perused them, I was struck by the fact that virtually none of these materials had existed when I came into the Church in 1987.  Today, if I were to walk into that bookstore, I would find, not only the materials under which that table groaned in 1998, but a still greater torrent of books, videos, DVDs and CDs, a vast number of them created by converts.  Clearly there have been some big changes in the past twenty years.  But before I discuss them, let me digress a bit.

On the whole, I'm glad of the boomlet in...READ MORE

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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.