Tea Party Brat: Party On

by admin on 12 June, 2014

Major disagreement with someone in the house (let’s say it was the cat) about whether David Brat, long-shot Republican upsetter of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, was a Tea Partier.

This arose from the New York Times article in which it was revealed that Brat had failed to win any financial backing from Tea Party groups, despite meeting with several of those groups. That led to the Times‘ headline: “A Long Shot So Long, the Tea Party Took a Pass” and to the cat crowing that Rachel Maddow’s reporting last night had been completely bogus, that Brat wasn’t a Tea Party candidate.

Silly cat.

The Tea Party is a movement, not a party, except in terms of damn the torpedoes, party on! (Or damn the evidence for climate change, out-of-control gun chaos, evolution, the need for regulations in general, Ayn Rand’s fundamental immoral amorality, or…. but the list goes on far too long.)

Brat is definitely a Tea Party Brat. Party on.

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Five Habits of Effective Parishes

by admin on 13 March, 2014

BP_Habits_iStock_ChristopherFutcherIf you can get beyond all the sorrow, horror, and fury about sex, there’s a space miraculously constant, both still and flowing, that is the heart of the Catholic Church. It goes by the name of parish, and it means ritual, community, spirit, and faith. The best parishes are constantly renewing themselves, while somehow keeping that constancy.

The editors at US Catholic asked me to write about the best practices of Catholic parishes, mundane seeming stuff that’s crucial for success. I talked with parish leaders around the country about communications, faith formation, getting parishioners involved, making a good first impression, and keeping track of what’s working and what’s not working.

From Oregon to Maryland, parishes are still key. Take a look!

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Patrick Leigh Fermor in Bulgaria

27 February, 2014

I’ve been intrigued by Bulgaria ever since reading Elizabeth Kostova’s marvelous novel The Historian. These evenings I’m reading The Broken Road, a book I’ve been waiting for for decades. It’s been decades since I read the first two books in Fermor’s trilogy, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water, so when […]

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C.S. Lewis: A Life Observed

25 February, 2014

Devin Brown writes that, unless he could find an entirely new angle,  he saw no reason to write yet another biography of the beloved novelist and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis. (Such a startlingly concept: apologist. Is it modern? Apologizing for  faith in a secular time, explaining why it makes sense after all… Or is it instead […]

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Summer laugh

23 February, 2014


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Waking from the Dream

22 January, 2014

While the book that David Chappell is best known for, A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow, seems as though it could be taught in philosophy or religion classes as well as history classes, his latest book is a different species. Waking from the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights […]

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Bright mind, quiet mouth

19 January, 2014

Like a magnificent medieval tapestry, Nicola Griffith’s historical novel Hild pulls you into a foreign, familiar world and shows how it was. Griffith has taken the historical figure, St. Hild of Whitby Monastery, and put flesh and desire into her. Hild begins when the future abbess is just 3 years old, the niece of King […]

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St. Peter’s Bones

15 January, 2014

For me, with a passion for history, faith, and mystery, St. Peter’s Bones was almost bound to be a hit. It was especially meaningful since I’ve been to Rome a couple times, and wandered through much of that city’s history, the layers of which are so marvelously visible. Author Craughwell uses the bizarre story of […]

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Diving into The Ocean at the End of the Lane

18 December, 2013

Although I put The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman, on my Goodreads fantasy shelf, it felt so real and so important that I hesitated. The story feels like the kind of myth that form world views. It’s the story of a boy who loves books and kittens, who is welcomed […]

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Slavery Novels: The Residue of History | by Kristen Hannum | Historical Novel Society

13 December, 2013

Slavery Novels: The Residue of History | by Kristen Hannum | Historical Novel Society. The Historical Novel Review did a great job with my article on slavery last month – in which I interviewed a couple marvelous authors plus a great historian about slavery in historical novels, specifically the despicable institution of enslaving Africans and […]

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