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December 28, 2015

In Randall Jarrell’s Pictures From an Institution, one of the characters says there are thirty hours in every day, “if only you know where to look for them.” Lucky man. I guess I don’t know where to look. I’ve never found more than about eighteen useful hours and normally far fewer than that.

What I find myself forced to do—what you undoubtedly find yourself forced to do—is to undertake some things and let others slide. We...

December 21, 2015

Some years ago the mail brought me the latest issues of World, an Evangelical biweekly, and the Christian Research Institute’s Journal, a bimonthly from the ministry that airs “The Bible Answer Man” radio program.

I had to laugh as I placed the...

December 14, 2015

The Church Comes Home is a book about the ultimate in atomistic Christianity: starting your own church in your own home. The authors are Robert and Julia Banks. I found an advertising blurb used to promote the book to be unintentionally instructive:

“Home churches are as old as the New Testament, and now the Bankses help you carry on the tradition in your community of faith! Discover how to start a home church of your own, determine doctrine, form a network with...

December 7, 2015

A friend, a late vocation, left town for a distant seminary. Wanting to travel light, he donated a box of old books to the Catholic Answers library. Among them were six volumes comprising The Book of Catholic Authors. The first bears a copyright date of 1942; the sixth, undated, seems to have been published around 1961. The editor of the series was Walter Romig, who produced a book I have in my home library, The Catholic Bookman.

Of the sixty or so writers profiled...

November 29, 2015

 “Out of the mouths of babes— and dissident priests.” Or something like that.

Rummaging around, I came across an old newspaper column that amused me when I first read it and amuses me still. I never thought I would find the late Fr. Richard P. McBrien (1936–2015), longtime head of the theology department at Notre Dame, giving a coherent argument in favor of priestly celibacy; but he did, right in the pages of the National Catholic Reporter.

In fairness I should note...