Author: David Cloutier

2nd Sunday of Easter: A Parish of St Thomas

Readings: Acts 2:42-47; 1 Pt 1:3-9; Jn 20:19-31 In the end, church happens where you touch the wounds. After participating in a couple spectacular liturgies at St. Matthew’s Cathedral for Good Friday and Easter Vigil, it was fitting that I ended up Easter evening in a much more modest fashion, hanging out with some friends from my parish choir, sharing life. My parish’s patron is St. Thomas the Apostle, whom we see in this week’s gospel famously “doubting” that Jesus had really appeared to the others. Thomas is often presented as someone whose faith is a little too weak,...

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The Hyattsville Option

There has been plenty of discussion of Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option, but what we really need (as MacIntyre’s image was supposed to indicate) are lived communities of practice. Examining this practice is really what counts as argument. And so I was pleased to see that NPR’s All Things Considered aired an extended segment on the growing intentional Catholic community in Hyattsville, Maryland, centered around St. Jerome’s parish and school. I’m grateful to count several of my colleagues here as sharers in that membership. And I was happy that, when my mother told me about hearing this on the...

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Decisions and (Eternal) Destiny

I was planning on writing a blog post on an aspect of our intractable political situation, but then today I had such wonderful class sessions with my freshmen, I decided, “Do we really need yet another political blog post?” Instead, let’s talk about our destiny. Today, we had gotten to the last day of our tour through Scripture: the reading was the last few chapters of the Book of Revelation, along with the wonderful paragraphs (10-15) of Pope Benedict’s encyclical on hope, Spe Salvi, where he describes “eternal life.” The sessions were the kind one dreams about as a...

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Brooks and Dreher: Getting Beyond Benedict and Niebuhr

David Brooks wades into the Benedict Option debate by posing a contrast between religious stances of purity and irony. Could he mean sectarians versus Niebuhrian realists?!? There’s something I know about. Brooks opts for the Niebuhrian realism, countering the Benedict Option with a recommendation of “Orthodox Pluralism,” capturing well an optimistic Niebuhrian pessimism (realism!), hanging onto “contact with a transcendent ideal” while recognizing that “those purists who aim to be higher than the angels often end up lower than the beasts.” Predictably, the next paragraph strikes into the usual suspects, like medieval inquisitors and “modern Islamic radicals” – though...

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Back to Basics: What is Christianity?

In the midst of reading up on diverse reviews of Rod Dreher’s new book, The Benedict Option, (here) (here) (here), before going to see him on a panel in DC next week, I realized the question of what Christians are to do in present-day American culture should go back to the more basic question of what Christianity actually is. Sounds boringly theologian-ish. But we spend enough words arguing about other stuff. I think there is a widespread, often implicit identification of Christianity with three core commitments: A relationship to God, mediated through some kind of practice that nurtures an...

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