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November 2, 2015

While not every exegetical argument can be settled with the citation of a verse, some can.

I often have received letters and e-mails from non-Catholics saying, “Put up or shut up. Where does the Bible mention anything about confession?” I quote John 20:22–23: “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them, whose sins you shall retain they are retained.” Of course, I don’t stop there. I draw the logical inference.

If a priest is to distinguish which sins are to be forgiven...

October 26, 2015

Everyone grouses about death. Maybe we should take a look at the human condition and be grateful that God has provided us with an “out.” We should be grateful that, at the Fall, human nature fell sufficiently far.

It’s bad enough to find our reason impaired and our passions largely outside of our control. It would have been inconceivably worse, I suspect, to find ourselves unreasonable, impassioned, and immortal.

Yes, it’s unpleasant to be under an inescapable penalty of death...

October 19, 2015

Years ago, when I was carefree and broke and needed the money, I used to write a column for a local “alternative” newspaper. My assignment was to cover public lectures, discussions, and demonstrations and to illustrate the illogic of the participants simply by quoting them.

Editorializing was forbidden by the editor, but there was no need for it, since the easiest way to make certain people look foolish is to report their words accurately.

Most of the assignments I no longer...

October 12, 2015

Bishop Musonius of Neocaesarea died in 368, and St. Basil sent a consolatory letter to the Christians of that city. He praised the deceased as “a bulwark of his native land, an ornament of the churches, a pillar and foundation of the truth, a firm support of the faith of Christ, a steadfast helper for his friends, a most formidable foe for his enemies, a guardian of the ordinances of the Fathers, an enemy of innovation.”

This seems a fine eulogy, except that the final sentiment is...

October 5, 2015

Meet the Celebes crested macaque known as the star of the “monkey selfies.” She achieved notoriety in 2014 when photographer David Slater went to the Sulawesi peninsula of Indonesia (one of only two places this species of monkey exists, the other being a nearby island).

Slater carefully set up his camera equipment, using a tripod, and waited for a macaque to approach it, push a button on the remote control, and take its own photo. He ended up with several photos, this becoming the...