Why We Read What We Read: Utility or Tradition?

Feast of St Moses of Optina

Books_Square.jpgOF LATE I have often found myself reflecting on why I choose to read the particular books I read, and also why others choose the books they do. And (as is my wont) I have also found myself reflecting on the larger cultural and intellectual trends connected to our individual reading habits.

I tend to read a book based on its author more than... Continue Reading

The Spirit of Economy: Reacting to the Contemporary Bourgeois

Feast of St Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria

Dawson_Square.jpgIN HIS ESSAY “Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind”, Christopher Dawson argued that, contrary to the prediction and hope of Marx, the Proletariat never truly revolted against the bourgeois, despite its increasing misery and growing hostility. Instead it was the bourgeois, said Dawson, representing not so much a body of men but rather a mindset, culture, and lifestyle, which rose up over time and... Continue Reading

Eighth Day Ecumenism: Toward a Concise Definition

Feast of Holy Pentecost

Peter_and_Paul_Square.jpgA DREAM THAT would eventually bloom into Eighth Day Institute (“EDI”) developed while I was serving as a short-term missionary in Latin America. In 1994, shortly after my twenty-first birthday, I left for Mexico with the intent of serving for two months. I ended up staying three years. During my second year, while serving in Colombia (1995-1996), the initial idea for what would evolve into EDI... Continue Reading

Liberating Advice: Take Care of Your Work and Follow Me

Feast of St John the Russian of Evia

Christ_Calling_Disciples_Square.jpgJESUS SAID to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Truly, truly I say to you, when you were young, you fastened your own belt and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will fasten your belt for you and carry you where you do not wish to go.’ (This he said... Continue Reading

From Lent to Easter: Experiencing the Drama of God's Redemption

Feast of St Julian the Martyr

Resurrectgion_Square_2.jpgON EASTER Sunday morning I woke up and thought, “It’s Easter. Christ is risen.” Yawn. I rolled over and slept a little more. Then I dragged myself out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen, and with a thrill it hit me: Lent is over. Lent is over. No more drudgery. No more self-denial. No more penitence. Now I was really excited.

I chastised... Continue Reading

Dating Easter: A Concise History of the Division

Feast of St Pelagia the Nun-martyr of Tarsus

Blue_Calendar_Square.jpgIN THE SEVENTH century A.D., while the queen of Northumbria was observing Lent on Palm Sunday, the king broke the Lenten fast to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. The queen, who was from Kent, followed the Roman dating for Easter; the king followed the Celtic dating. In 664 A.D., the king called a council at the monastery of Whitby... Continue Reading

Do Conversions Happen? Reading Christopher Beha

Bright Thursday and Feast of the Holy Martyrs Agape, Chionia & Irene

Sophie_Wilder_Square.jpgI RECENTLY FINISHED Christopher Beha’s debut novel, What Happened to Sophie Wilder. I’ve never felt myself so addressed by the conclusion of a book. Or maybe I should say conclusions, because the book ends on a sort of more-sophisticated version of a choose-your-own-adventure novel. But that doesn’t mean it’s juvenile. Far from it. Rather (and, here be spoilers,... Continue Reading

Notes Towards the Definition of Cultural Renewal

Feast of the Annuciation

Doom_Portrait_Color_square.jpgTHE MISSION of Eighth Day Institute can be summed up in eight words: “the renewal of culture through faith and learning.” This phrase seemed to be a clear, concise, and simple way to summarize my intentions for the development of what was still only an idea back in 2008. However, the more I’ve reflected on this simple statement as the idea has grown into a realityContinue Reading

Meaning and Endings: Death, New Creation & Meaningful Life

Feast of St Gregory the Dialogist

Christ_tomb_red_square.jpgTHAT IT'S ALL going to come to naught—for individual persons and the universe as a whole—if naturalism is true, is relevant to meaningful life. Quite a few philosophers disagree. They do not disagree with the claim that there are likely sorts of dying (dying very young so as to prevent one from attaining important goals, for example) that could threaten or, more modestly,... Continue Reading

Tempted by Satan: The Triumph of Christ in our Unseen Combat

Feast of Gerasimus the Righteous of Jordan

Temptation_Square.jpgTHE GOSPEL reading for the first Sunday of Western Lent is Mark 1:12-13: “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.”

The beauty of the Temptation in Mark’s gospel is its brevity. Without the specifics offered... Continue Reading

One with the Nous: The Life Work of Human Being

Feast of Righteous John Cassian the Confessor

On_Human_Being_square.jpgA SWEET FRIEND said to me the other day, “I feel like spreading happiness is my life’s work.” I love that! I know her to be a naturally happy, encouraging person. For her to feel that spreading happiness is her life’s work is one of the most self-aware statements she could make. She DOES spread happiness. From the core of her being radiating... Continue Reading

Interstellar Space Oddyseys: The Continuing Relevance of Walker Percy

Feast of Polycarp the Holy Martyr & Bishop of Smyrna

Interstellar_square.jpgWATCHING Christopher Nolan’s ambitious science-fiction film Interstellar this last fall reminded me that Walker Percy’s classic (and hilarious, and profound) self-help send-up, Lost in the Cosmos, is as relevant as ever. The last sixty pages of the book are dedicated to narrating two “Space Odysseys.” The commonalities between these and Interstellar are striking. Here is the premise of both:

1.... Continue Reading

The Not So Great Indoors: Losing our Wonder

Feast of the Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 

Cosmos_Square.jpgWHEN THE MIND contemplates heaven and earth, it marvels and is filled with wonder and rejoices with inexpressible gladness for having such a God and Lord who created with such ease, such beautiful and wise and great and marvelous creatures. So we are moved to say with David: "I praise Thee for Thou are beautiful and wonderful. Wonderful... Continue Reading