J. Peter Nixon

By this author

Discerning the Body

I was intrigued by the conversation that ensued in response to Paul Moses’ essay in the WSJ a few weeks ago in which he spoke of how his father’s death had become the occasion of a powerful experience of Christian community.  “I saw a theological term made real,” wrote Moses, “that God’s people make up the body of Christ.”

I’ve recently had an experience like the one Paul described. One of the reasons for my absence from these pages over the past few months is that my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in April. Since then we have been walking a difficult path that has included surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy, with more treatment to follow. My wife’s care has been excellent, however, and we have every reason to hope for a full and complete recovery.

Like Paul, I have been overwhelmed by and deeply grateful for the support we have received from family, friends and our parish community. The phrase “I’ll pray for you” can all too easily become a commonplace. In this case, however, we truly feel that the prayers of others have become a palpable thing, holding us and healing us when our own strength--particularly mine--falters.

Quick Thoughts on Pope Francis

Why Bergoglio? Obviously I wasnt in the conclave or even in Rome, but if I had to sum it up in a sentence Id say hes a Latin American Sean OMalley.Much of the boomlet for OMalley over the last couple of weeks focused on his simplicity, commitment to the poor and personal holiness. His administrative chops and seriousness on the issue of clerical sexual abuse were a clear asset, but without the former elements he wouldnt have been as compelling a candidate.As many others have observed, Bergoglio has similar qualities.


Reading the coverage of today's March for Life in DC reminded me of some writing I did ten years ago on my now-closed blog Sursum Corda. That year was the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I wrote a week of daily reflections on the subject. You can read the originals here if you are interested.The following piece was probably the post that generated the most reader commentary, both positive and negative. I read it again today.

Encountering Jesus

I suspect the number of Commonweal readers out here in my particular part of Northern California may number in the single digits. Nevertheless, for those of you living within driving distanceof Concord, CA (about 25 miles east of Oakland, CA), let me offer an invitation to a new Adult Formation program my wife and I are facilitating.It's called "Encountering Jesus" and the idea is to look at various images and understandings of Jesus in the history of the Church that have powerfully shaped Christian prayer and spirituality.

For Further Reading

I noted yesterday that the papal nuncio had cited--not approvingly, I hasten to add--a post from DotCommonweal that addressed the issue of religious freedom as well as the relationship between the bishops and the laity with respect to matters of public policy.It occurred to me later that the Archbishop Viganmight benefit from reading other pieces in the magazine that deal with these issues, particularly Commonweal's symposium from earlier this year that responded to the U.S.

An Expanding Readership?

Anyone who writes for publication wonders from time to time whether anyone is reading their work.

Revenge of the Nerds

As evidenced by Cathy's wonderful post below, last nights election results have turned statistician Nate Silver into a pop culture icon. Exhibit A is a new Twitter hashtag #natesilverfacts that parodies the Chuck Norris facts.

"Where there is no vision...."

Last night was not a good night for the nations Catholic bishops. They have spent most of the last year arguing that Catholics--and people of faith generally--should prioritize three key issues in this election: abortion, same-sex marriage, and the conscience rights of Catholic institutions. These issues were highlighted in a large number of communications from individual bishops as well as a two-week Catholic teach in that was described as a Fortnight for Freedom.The bishops have little to show for their efforts.

Election Day Predictions Open Thread

For those who are interested, I thought I would create an open thread for folks to offer predictions about the results tomorrow. I used to work in an office where we had a pool on this, March Madness-style. I suppose here we will limit it to bragging rights. Here are the categories:1. Swing State Results: CO, FL, IA, NC, NH, NV, OH, VA, WI2. Popular Vote Percentage Breakdown3. Electoral Vote Breakdown4. Tossup Senate Races: AZ, MA, MT, ND, NV, WI.5. Senate Partisan Composition6. Tiebreaker: House Partisan CompositionHere are mine for what it's worth:1.

Yes You Can

As we approach next weeks election, Catholic voters are being inundated with messages that suggest that it would be gravely sinful to vote for President Obama.This is not necessarily true.In saying this, I want to make clear that I am not arguing that one should vote for President Obama or that there are no compelling reasons to vote against him.