Word On Fire

Why Accompaniment Involves Apologetics

"Road to Emmaus" (detail) by Robert Zünd [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I recently granted an interview to the National Catholic Reporter concerning the upcoming Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment, to which I was elected a delegate. We discussed a number of topics, including the rise of the “nones,” the purpose of the Synod, and creative ways of listening to the concerns of young people. In the course […]

All Sinners are Welcome!

"Christ and the Woman of Samaria" (detail) by Paolo Veronese

While I was in central Georgia, filming the Flannery O’Connor episode of my Pivotal Players series, I saw a sign on the outside of a church, which would have delighted the famously prickly Catholic author: “All Sinners Are Welcome!” I thought it was a wonderfully Christian spin on the etiquette of welcome that is so pervasive in our culture today. In a […]

Getting Out of the Sacristy: A Look at Our Pastoral Priorities

For the past several days, I’ve been with my Word on Fire team, filming for the Flannery O’Connor and Fulton Sheen episodes of our “Pivotal Players” series. Our journey has taken us from Chicago to New York to Washington, DC, and finally to Savannah and Milledgeville, Georgia. At every step of the way, we have met numerous people who have […]

What “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” Gets Right and Wrong

**SPOILER ALERT** The original Jurassic Park film from twenty-five years ago rather inventively explored a theme that has been prominent in Western culture from the time of the Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment—namely, the dangers of an aggressive and arrogant rationalism. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, poets and philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Herder, William […]

Michelle Wolf and the Throwaway Culture

"Suffer the little children to come unto me." (detail) by Carl Bloch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The other night at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Michelle Wolf, who I’m told is a comedian, regaled the black-tie and sequin-gowned crowd with her “jokes.” Almost all were in extremely bad taste and/or wildly offensive, but one has become accustomed to that sort of coarseness in the comedy clubs and even on mainstream television. However, she crossed over into the […]

The Most Unexpectedly Religious Film of the Year

SPOILER ALERT! I went to see A Quiet Place, John Krasinski’s new thriller, with absolutely no anticipation of finding theological or spiritual themes. I just wanted a fun evening at the movies. How wonderful when a film surprises you! I don’t know if I can find the golden thread that draws all of these themes together into a coherent message, […]

Paul Tillich and “The Shape of Water”

SPOILER ALERT! I knew that The Shape of Water would win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It checked three of the major Hollywood boxes: celebration of oppressed people, valorization of complete sexual freedom, and a Christian villain. It used to be that a black hat or shifty eyes or a foreign accent would give someone away as the bad […]

A Case for Priestly Celibacy

There is a very bad argument for celibacy which has reared its head throughout the tradition and which is, even today, defended by some. It runs something like this: married life is morally and spiritually suspect; priests, as religious leaders, should be spiritual athletes above reproach; therefore, priests shouldn’t be married. I love Augustine, but it is hard to deny that […]

The Death of an Evangelical Titan

Courtesy of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Billy Graham preach about twenty years ago in Cincinnati. At the time, Dr. Graham was around eighty years old and clearly in frail health. He came to the podium and commenced to speak, but the crowd of young people, stirred up by the Christian rock bands who had performed earlier, was restive and […]

“America” Magazine’s Survey of Women in the Church

Last month, America magazine published a fascinating survey regarding the attitudes of women in the Church. They were kind enough to publish a few of my reactions to the study, but I would like, in this article, to offer a fuller response to their findings. One of the most disturbing conclusions from the survey is that women are increasingly disengaging […]