Month: October 2015

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Be Bartimaeus.

El Greco, Christ Healing the Blind (1575)
Be Bartimaeus. The Gospel presents Bartimaeus to us to show us that this is what it looks like to follow Jesus. This is what we’re called to. So what can we learn from him? I would propose three things: (1) see your blindness; (2) beg boldly; and (3) make Jesus’ Way your way.

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The Repulsiveness of Christ

Colijn de Coter, Christ as the Man of Sorrows (1500)
When we've tried everything we can think of to lead someone to Christianity and it doesn't work, it's so easy to blame ourselves: to think that if we had done everything just so, or found just the right combination of words, everything would have clicked, and they would have accepted Jesus Christ. If we were only a little more compassionate, or a little smarter, or a little more persuasive in our speech. This reaction is discouraging, and what's more, it's often false. It gets three things wrong: grace, free will, and Jesus.

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Trial by Fire: Modernity’s Response to Miracles

Dieric Bouts the Elder, Ordeal by Fire (detail), 1460. In this scene, a woman proves her innocence by holding a red-hot iron without suffering injury.
We moderns think of trial by ordeal as proof positive of the irrational dogmatism of our religious ancestors' culture. The idea of determining someone's innocence or guilt by having them hold a red-hot iron seems, well, insane. But new evidence suggests that the process worked... and might provide documentary evidence of a huge number of miracles. That modern researchers refuse to even consider this possibility reveals a great deal more about the irrational dogmatism of our own irreligious culture.

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The Untamed Virgin Queen

Caravaggio, Madonna and Child with St. Anne (1606)
The world has just learned that three more Assyrian Christians have been executed in a particularly barbaric way by ISIS… who’ve promised to continue this murderous campaign if the Christians of the Middle East don’t submit. Pope Francis has repeatedly tried to call our attention to the ongoing genocide of these Christians, and that’s exactly what it is: a systematic attempt to wipe Christians off of the map, permanently. All of this bloodshed is being perpetrated in the name of a radical and expansionist form of Islam. To be sure, this isn’t the only form of Islam practiced, but it is nothing new, either. From the very beginning, there have been groups, beginning with Muhammad himself, who sought to spread Islam by the sword.

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