WD’s WhyTunes, Vol. 4: Gillian Welch

September 29, 2011

Photo by David Noah on flickr

Gillian Welch is one of the great musicians of our time. It is not because she is a technical virtuoso, or because she has great vocal range. It is because more than anyone else she taps into the great aching heart of American music. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Broken Social Network

October 19, 2010

The Social Network, directed by David Fincher, written by Aaron Sorkin

This new film has received lots of positive reviews and has sold lots of tickets over the past weeks, but I was unsure just what might be in store as I walked into the theater this weekend. What I found was a brilliant, and oddly moving, tragedy. At first, it seemed to be just the tragedy of one man, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of facebook, but in the end the tragedy seems to be so many-sided, so “social” that I found myself drawn right into the drama. I was asking the question: these people’s lives are so very broken, but in the end, are they all that different from me?

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Jesuits on the road

June 29, 2010

There is lots of exciting new work going on in the Society of Jesus these days, and I have been blessed to be part of one piece of it this summer. The project is called “Hearts on Fire,” a series of mini-retreats given across the midwest by a team of six young Jesuits. The focus of the retreat is helping young adults to live their Christian faith in daily life. We have adapted some elements of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in what we hope is a catchy, inspiring way. The two days include Eucharistic adoration, confessions, talks, discussion groups, contemplation, and even musical entertainment.  We have completed two retreats already, and are looking forward to the last three. Pictures and more information are below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

On how spring brings out the Wendell Berry in us

May 8, 2010

The blooming of the natural world in spring can make me all the more appalled at our (my!) worship of the works of our hands. Discussing the commandment against idolatry in my Freshman religion class, I found myself recalling the words of the late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger:

Until a recent period, beginning with the baroque in the seventeenth century, God the Father was always represented by a sign: the sacred tetragrammaton (the four Hebrew letters of the divine Name), the ray, the sun, the hand — in other words, by abstract symbols, because the Father cannot be depicted….

Interviewer: Are you shocked that God is represented physically in human form?

Lustiger: The Father, yes. Because that strikes me as being less respectful of the economy of salvation. You know the sentence from the prologue to Saint John’s Gospel: “No one has ever seen God” (1:18).

In class, I was soon on a mild rant against CCD books that picture God the Father as an old guy with a beard, and depriving a child of the true mystery of who God is. This is the worship of the works of our hands, which worship steals our wonder at who God is, and what God has done.

Wendell Berry, the great farmer-poet of our time, seems to always help me to return to that sense of wonder. Here’s one of his poems of amused rebellion against an idol-worshipping world. +AMDG+

Manifesto: Mad Farmer Liberation Front

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Milosz – In Kraków

April 28, 2010

Czeslaw Milosz is regarded as one of the great poets of the 20th century. This poem caught my eye when it was first published in The New Yorker as, perhaps, a poetic theology of the body.  Enjoy!

In Kraków

On the border of this world and the beyond, in Kraków.

Tap-tap on the foot-worn flagstones of churches,

Generation after generation.  Here I came to understand

Something of the habits of my brothers and sisters.

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Gospel Tumbles and Tweets: part 2

April 25, 2010

What a coincidence! Yesterday, I discovered on Twitter that the Pope gave a speech the same day talking about the need for believers to humanize the internet. Here’s the major quote:

“Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for two thousand years. Rather than for, albeit necessary, technical resources, we want to qualify ourselves by living in the digital world with a believer’s heart, helping to give a soul to the Internet’s incessant flow of communication”.

Read Vatican Radio’s summary here.

Michae!, SJ


Gospel Tumbles and Tweets

April 24, 2010

One of the fun things about browsing the internet is that you can always find something new.  But, of course, new internet discoveries are almost always a mixed bag.  What are they for? What are they doing for people? Who uses this? Sometimes, even after I figure out some of that stuff, I end up realizing that it might be cool, but it’s nothing I’ll ever get any use or genuine enjoyment from.

But then there are things that might turn out to be useful – for example, Twitter and Tumblr.

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