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Pontifications

Pontifications

December 2008 Archives

Jump into the 2009 “Catholic Pool”!

posted by David Gibson

Inspired by William Safire’s annual Office Pool of predictions for the coming year, I am herewith inaugurating a “Catholic Pool” for 2009. Safire’s 2009 NYT pool column ran last Sunday, and you have to hand it to him for keeping […]

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Rescuing the housing market AND the souls of stock traders

posted by David Gibson

The latest report shows housing values continue to plummet. And the misdeeds of swindlers like Bernie Madoff continue to proliferate. What to do? The German town of Augsburg–of the famous Lutheran Confession–has a very Catholic response: Dirt cheap rents ($.23 […]

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The “myth” of holiday suicide rates

posted by David Gibson

I thought the old saw that suicides increase during the holidays–the result, it was assumed, of isolation and despair deepened by the camaraderie ostensibly being enjoyed by everyone else–was an Urban Legend that I was the last to catch on […]

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Papal visit to the Holy Land: Another victim of the violence?

posted by David Gibson

The escalating warfare in the birthplace of the Prince of Peace may claim another victim: Benedict’s visit to Israel this May. According to CNS, Vatican sources have said a worsening of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict could alter the pope’s travel plans. […]

Fr. Richard McBrien: Liberal? Try “broad centrist”…

posted by David Gibson

Notre Dame’s well-known, highly-regarded–though not in some circles–theologian and commentator Richard McBrien spoke recently with the Globe’s Michael Paulson and, not surprisingly, fireworks ensued. Yet as often happens, it wasn’t so much anything McBrien said, as much as the apoplexy […]

Recovering St. Joseph

posted by David Gibson

As a father of only a few years duration, I have developed an especial affection for St. Joseph, who always intrigued me given the short shrift he gets in the Gospels. And that leads to such odd devotions as burying […]

Which Christmas? Luke or Matthew?

posted by David Gibson

In this U.S. Catholic interview, scripture scholar Sr. Laurie Brink, OP provides some very sensible, scholarly, and faith-based pastoral answers to questions you may have wondered about the Gospel accounts of Christmas–but were afraid to ask. For instance: Why do […]

Yes, Virginia, there WAS a Santa Claus…

posted by David Gibson

But he’s not quite like you’ve been told. He was St. Nicholas of Myra, in fourth-century Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), and as Kim Lawton of Religion & Ethics Newsweekly shows, some Americans are re-discovering a truly profound Christmas character: “St. […]

REALLY Original Sin

posted by David Gibson

Scandals galore, the Fall of Man, the Pope on Original Sin (as per Cathleen Kaveny at dotCommonweal)–how did it all happen? Answer: Evolution made us do it. From Natalie Angier’s science column in the NYT: Deceitful behavior has a long […]

The Hokey Pokey is anti-Catholic? So THAT’S what it’s all about!

posted by David Gibson

Yes, I knew about the anti-papist origins of “hocus pocus,” a riff on the formula of consecration in Latin in the Mass, hoc est corpus meum, or “this is my body.” But it turns out the “Hokey Cokey,” as the […]

B16: Save the rainforest–Stop gay marriage!

posted by David Gibson

Interesting linkage (or wild leap, to some) that Pope Benedict XVI made in his annual address to the Roman Curia earlier today. The address is usually a look back at the highlights of the past year–or what the pontiff would […]

Christmas Quiz: How much do you really know?

posted by David Gibson

Take the “Christmas Quiz” at Christian History. Ten questions, among them: Apart from a famously repetitive carol, what do the “twelve days of Christmas” refer to? Which of the following best describes the origin of the candy cane? When did […]

A Theory of “Devolution”?

posted by David Gibson

Turns out dinosaurs were stay-at-home dads. According to this Washington Post story: Did oviraptor daddies look forward to trips to the park? Alas, that’s a question the fossil record can’t answer. But it does appear that many dinosaur fathers spent […]

Last-minute gifts!

posted by David Gibson

Yes, if you’re really stumped, you can get (or get me) a Sarah Palin wall calendar! Or not. Perhaps a “Calendario Romano 2009″ with the “Priests of Rome”–one clerical hunk per month? I got these every time I went, as […]

Is iPrayer a Killer App?

posted by David Gibson

. It had to happen: The iPhone–a.k.a. the Jesus Phone–gets an iBreviary, and with a Vatican imprimatur. The Times of London has the story: The Vatican has approved a computerised prayerbook for a new generation of gadget-loving Roman Catholic priests. […]

Farewells, Part Two: A Cardinal’s Funeral

posted by David Gibson

Avery Dulles, SJ, was laid to rest after a warm and moving funeral Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the third and final funeral mass for the beloved cardinal, theologian and convert. This picture from The New York Times coverage is […]

Farewells, Part One: A Brooklyn Monastery

posted by David Gibson

In my corner of the Catholic Church–the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region generally, Brooklyn specifically–parish and church and monastery closings are practically part of our ritual. A big part of the problem is the vocations crisis, also the economic crunch, and […]

The Future of a Catholic Politician

posted by David Gibson

I’ve written about Anh (Joseph) Cao, the neophyte New Orleans Republican and former Jesuit seminarian who won a surprise victory over the once invincible but now disgraced (allegedly) Rep. Wiiliam Jefferson earlier this month in a storm-delayed Congressional election. Cao […]

U.S. to Nuns to Vatican: We support Fr. Roy Bourgeois–and women’s ordination

posted by David Gibson

Whether Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been excommunicated or not remains a mystery. As I wrote here, the Vatican told him to recant for supporting women’s ordination–and attending one last July–and at last word he had gone to Rome […]

Soft-core alert! Virgin Mary on Playboy cover

posted by David Gibson

The good news is that the Chicago-based publisher has offered “sincerest apologies” for the cover, which came out in the December edition, timed for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Nativity–pretty much the Big […]

“Doubts” grow on Merz NRB op-ed

posted by David Gibson

Last week, I wrote about about a Boston Globe op-ed by Judge Michael Merz, head of the lay-led National Review Board that is supposed to ensure that the bishops follow their own policies on child protection. Merz’s view that the […]

Humbug: Old Fogey, SJ

posted by David Gibson

I had just finished ordering our annual sheaf of seasonally tacky and nicely inexpensive Christmas cards–my three-year-old on a carousel in various stages of glee, below her a wish for joy to the world and peace in 2009 and all […]

Economic recession–Evangelical Boom. Catholic bust?

posted by David Gibson

The Times’ Paul Vitello had an interesting piece yesterday on how churches are seeing a surge in attendance as the economy tanks. But it is mainly the “enthusiastic” denominations of Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism that are doing well. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses […]

Is the Shroud of Turin real?

posted by David Gibson

The Discovery Channel opens up what many–including the Vatican–had taken to be a settled question, namely whether the famous Shroud of Turin is truly the burial cloth of Jesus. “Unwrapping the Shroud: New Evidence,” airs Sunday (today), Dec. 14, at […]

Avery Dulles, RIP

posted by David Gibson

Word has come down that Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, one of the great figures of the Catholic Church, certainly in the United States, died this morning at the Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University in The Bronx. He was 90 and […]

NRB head: Sex abuse scandal? It’s history. Really.

posted by David Gibson

In an Op-Ed in today’s Boston Globe, the current head of the National Review Board, the blue-ribbon, lay-led group that is supposed to keep the bishops following their own policies on child protection, says Catholics have nothing to worry about–all […]

The Devil and Brooklyn’s Catholic Channel

posted by David Gibson

Sound like an odd couple? Not the way the new TV czar for my own Brooklyn diocese does it. Deacon Greg Kandra, a longtime CBS News and “60 Minutes” writer–and author of The Deacon’s Bench blog–was recently hired by Bishop […]

Thomas Merton, 40 years on…

posted by David Gibson

1968 was a true annus horribilis, as the Queen (upending Dryden) might have said, with the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and the social upheavals surrounding the Vietnam War ramping up. Then, on Dec. 10, 1968, came […]

Can Catholics read the Bible?

posted by David Gibson

The short answer is, Yes, finally. The somewhat longer answer, as I detail in this cover story for America magazine, “A Literate Church: The State of Catholic Bible Study Today,” is “Yes–but they’re not doing it enough.” Check it out, […]

Rome of the early Christians: You are there…

posted by David Gibson

Google has captured the future. Now it is taking over the past. But that’s not such a bad thing, when it provides new features like this “Ancient Rome 3D” marvel, which, as the NYTimes story shows, has re-created the Rome […]

Apologies for the Lacuna

posted by David Gibson

I haven’t posted for much of the past week, thanks to various plagues running through the house (Toddler=Petri Dish) and a family visit to New Orleans. I was hoping to post from there, but family visits being what they are… […]

Koncelebration 4 Kids!

posted by David Gibson

Answered prayer. Just came across this–the perfect Christmas gift for my daughter AND the perfect solution to the vocations crisis: My Mass Kit, the “flagship product” from a new Catholic toy company called Wee Believers™. According to the website, “Children […]

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Moving on, and many, many thanks...
So...my recent vacation and related absences also coincided with an offer from PoliticsDaily.com to cover religion for them, as editor Melinda Henneberger announces here in her roundup on the site's very successful first 100 days. That ...

posted 8:29:24pm Aug. 02, 2009 | read full post »

Calvin at 500, Calvinism 2.0
If you thought you knew John Calvin--who turned 500 last week--you probably don't know enough. For example, that he was French, born Jean Cauvin. And if he was in fact scandalized by dancing, he was also a lot more complex than that. I explored ...

posted 11:53:35am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

Apologia pro vita sua...Kinda
 In my defense, I've had computer outages and family reunions and a few days of single-parenthood, which is always a bracing reminder of what many parents go through all the time. And this weekend it's off for a week's vacation. Anyway, ...

posted 10:51:36am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

When Benny met Barry: "I'll pray for you!"
The first word via Vatican Radio and first image (that I saw) via Rocco: Speaking to Vatican Radio, Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said "moral values in international politics, immigration and the Catholic Church's ...

posted 12:54:28pm Jul. 10, 2009 | read full post »

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