Eric Bugyis teaches Religious Studies in the Division of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs at the University of Washington Tacoma.
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Last night Jesuit priest and peace activist Father William "Bix" Bichsel died in Tacoma, WA. I was introduced to Bix two weeks ago after mass at St. Leo's parish, where I have been attending services since moving to Tacoma in September, but I had already heard much about him. A Tacoma native, he was one of the founders of Guadalupe House, the Catholic Worker community located just down the street from St.
I count myself among those who are sad to see Andrew Sullivan leave the blogosphere. Mostly this is because I will miss benefiting from the enormous amount of work he and his staff put into curating and editing the vast expanse of the World Wide Web. Most days, I would only find out about a particularly insightful piece of online opinion or news reporting because Sullivan and his team had linked to it. Now, I will be forced to comb through all of this on my own or (what is more likely) grow increasingly ignorant of the offerings, albeit of various and sometimes dubious quality, in this large marketplace of ideas, cultural ephemera, and consumer products we call "the internet."
Secondly and, perhaps, more importantly, though, I count myself among those Dish readers, one of whom was quoted in Dominic's post, who heard in Sullivan's self-described "passionate, tortured relationship with the Catholic Church" a fellow traveler struggling to follow the thread of, what John Cavadini calls, the "love story" amidst the abuses that have all but ruined the romance since the turn of this century. Along with those of fellow English Catholic radical, Herbert McCabe, Sullivan's reflections on the life of faith and the drama of Catholic belief and practice have sustained me during those times when, as Sullivan said in his penultimate Dish post, it seemed as if "the hurt got the better of me."
In this last week, following Paul Elie's recommendations, I have returned to a couple of Sullivan's pieces on Catholicism from the late 80s and read them alongside his most recent long essay on Pope Francis. What I find so life-giving about the faith of this conservative, gay blogger is surprisingly similar to the truth articulated by his Marxist, celibate, Dominican compatriot. It is that, in spite of all evidence sometimes to the contrary, both Sullivan and McCabe are somehow able to keep their sights trained on the stubborn light of hope that shines in the Church even when the hands of those entrusted to carry it threaten to snuff it out by clutching it too tightly. The rays of hope to which Sullivan and McCabe continually return include 1) a Thomistic trust in the ultimate commensurability of the truth of revelation and the truth arrived at through natural reason; 2) an appreciation of the fundamentals of the Gospel message centered around the importance of relationship for mediating this truth; and 3) a call to practice charity as the proper fruit of this truth not only on behalf of the institutional Church ministering to the world, but also (and often more importantly) on behalf of Christ ministering to the institutional Church.
I am currently at home in West Virginia for the holiday weekend, and my parents took the survey on family life that was made available to them online by the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. They, along with their fellow parishoners, were encouraged to take it by their pastor.
In the most recent issue of the Oxford American, Alex Mar has a long piece about her visit to two communities of women religious in Texas. One is a Dominican priory in Houston, and the other is a cloistered convent in Lufkin. I found the article interesting for many reasons, not least because my wife, Katie, is from Houston and was taught by the Dominican sisters at St. Agnes Academy, which receives a shout-out by the prioress (Class of '56).
I would like to commend and expand on Matts engagement with Gary Guttings On Being Catholic. I agree with Matt that it is both worth reading and that it, in some respects, falls short of its promise. As Matt suggests, it fails to offer the kind of apologia for the teachings of Catholicism that would entice any reflective and honest intellectual to embrace them.
Over at The Dish, Andrew Sullivan praises a new HBO documentary, "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God," by Alex Gibney ("Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room") on the perpetration and cover-up of sex abuse in the Catholic Church that traces the corruption all the way to the Pope.
Before becoming one of the four horsemen of the “new atheist” apocalypse, the late Christopher Hitchens made his debut as an antireligious provocateur with his scathing takedown of Mother Teresa. In the BBC documentary Hell’s Angel (1994) and the book The Missionary Position (1995), Hitchens excoriated the “living saint” for ministering more effectively to the guilt of the criminally rich and powerful than to the needs of the innocently poor and pitiable. But the primary target of his ire was not the “angel” herself.
The most recent issue (Nov. 22) of Rolling Stone has a great story on the nuns' bus tour this summer and their recent struggles with the Vatican ("The Sisters Crusade"). I don't think it has been posted online yet, but here's Sr. Simone Campbell (executive director of Network) on the bishops:
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