Steve’s Columns

On Truth (Or Nothing But the Truth)

We do not live in simple times.  No doubt times-past had their difficulties.  Yet there was a time when our knowledge was more secure: when girls understood that sexuality was about having babies; when boys didn’t have to decide if they were in fact boys, and not girls.  There was a time when we believed that truth existed in the objects we were observing more so than in the subjects and what they were feeling.  We called the first knowledge and the second opinion and we agreed that the former held much more truth than the latter. Space does not …

On The Sublime

Every created thing (visible and invisible) has the transcendental properties of beauty, truth, and goodness.  These properties are transcendent not by standing above or outside the thing, but by being higher qualities in the thing itself. Once perceived by man’s senses, these qualities lift the rational soul to a loftier state. Let us take beauty.  If I were to drink from or run through a waterfall I would be using my senses of taste and touch.  The water might feel cool on my lips and taste of certain minerals.  In either case my experience is physical and might be satisfying …

Moving Forward (or In the Direction of God)

There are presently two prevailing schools of thought as to how the Church ought to approach our rapidly changing society.  The first, commonly known as the New Evangelization, proposes that the Church go out into the world and spread the Gospel message through communication, interaction, and (wherever possible) collaboration with society.  The second way of thinking branded the Benedict Option, (for the Saint, not the Pope), proposes that the Church take an in-house inventory, excuse itself from all societal collaboration, and concentrate on forming strong local associations of the faithful.  The long-term goal of the New Evangelization is the conversion …

On One’s Livelihood

On June 28, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider a case concerning three Washington state pharmacists who exercised their right of conscience by refusing to sell human embryo destructive (and potentially destructive) drugs. Back in February 2012 a federal court ruled that the State of Washington had discriminated against Margo Thelen, Rhonda Mesler and the Stormans family by ordering (in 2005) that these pharmacists and a family-owned pharmacy sell life-ending drugs against their religious beliefs.   The 2012 court wrote that, “The facts of this case lead to the inescapable conclusion that the Board’s rules discriminate intentionally and impinge the …

On Increasing Irritation

“When the Philistines captured the ark of God… the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon.” (1Sm5:1-2). What the Philistines did with the Ark of the Covenant was sacrilegious.  They took what was holy and placed it in the presence of what was unholy and idolatrous.  Yet being idolaters and polytheists we can at least understand why they did what they did.  They believed in a pantheon or an array of gods, and to them the ark represented just one more god.  They were fools for believing …

On Fraternal Correction

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get (Mt 7:1-2). Last Saturday after fueling up in Fairhaven, I drove past a Planet Fitness motorhome parked in a local plaza with a sign which read: “Judgment-Free Zone”.  Now while I am sure the sign meant that no matter your physical condition you will not be belittled or condemned if you stop in and inquire, it is a bit of false advertisement to suggest that any place is free of all judgments.  …

On Identity & Destiny

Over the last week several people have asked me what the “Q” stands for in LGBTQ.  For many people watching the recent political conventions and related news it is the first time they have seen a “Q” tied to this familiar four-letter string of initials. I told a few people that the “Q” stands for Quisp, that saucer-shaped, crunchy corn cereal once promoted by that cartoon alien with a propeller on his head.  One person actually believed me.  In truth, the “Q” has been around for a long time but only recently had its “coming out” party. The “Q” is …

On Human Progress

As I watch news reports on the coup in Turkey many pundits are comparing the present Islamic leader with its past “secular” leadership. By secular they mean a political structure in which the legal and judicial systems are not solely dependent upon religious law.  In this sense secularist can describe a political leader who, as principal of the state, does not rule through religion yet may still encourage religious principles in his state. Thomas Jefferson was such a political figure.  He had a high regard for Christian morality and later in life he made a personal study of the teachings …

On Secret Codes

Many years ago while walking through the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park in Washington D.C. I heard a young woman gruffly say to someone whom I think was her father:  “Don’t give me your heteronormative code.”  It was the first time I had ever heard this term and it unsettled me instinctively. I found myself listening to the language most familiar to me yet being spoken in such an unfamiliar and artificial way that my heart instantly comprehended that not only my language but my culture was about to weather a very disturbing and dangerous storm. Now the older man to …

On Biting the Bullet

Especially in this Year of Mercy, this Sunday’s gospel reading of the Good Samaritan will rev the engines of many church ambos.  Suffering, sin, eternal life, mercy, charity and lack of charity are just some octane available in this parable for fueling up a good homily. Basically there are two forms of charity expressed in this parable: the physical care of the injured or sick person and the material or financial support of the same.  The Samaritan first directly treats the wounds of the robbers’ victim and then indirectly cares for the victim through monetary support.  Merciful care toward the …

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