Author: Kelly Johnson

On Christus Vivit: It’s Not Going To Be that Easy

On Wednesday, the Vatican released Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit. The document includes familiar themes of Pope Francis’ writing: advocacy of openness as opposed to a stale defensiveness; emphasis on joyful encounter with the person of Jesus; and attention to realities of violence, poverty, and empty indifference. But at points in this document, I’m sad to say, Francis’ beautiful notes ring hollow for me. The problem is that appeals to openness and inclusion, even to the beauty of the encounter with Jesus, are not adequate responses to the profound objections to church teaching I hear  from my college-age students.

Read More

A very small defense of romance

In a culture as lonely and anxious and distracted as ours, we are starved for tenderness. We gulp down whatever anodyne versions of it can be mass produced: rom-coms and new outfits, jewelry and alcohol and porn soft and hard. We cannot accept the moment as just a moment, because we fear there may be nothing else good for us. Our despair is the lie that poisons this small gift.

Read More

The Sullivan Game: New (and Old) American Gods

It’s exam week and holidays are coming, so let’s play a game. We have a free copy of Bill Mattison’s Introducing Moral Theology for the reader who can give the best short account of what’s wrong with Andrew Sullivan’s “America’s New Religions.” I’ll summarize the argument and kick us off with some attempt to highlight a few of the major mistakes, and then I challenge readers to do better. A week from today, I’ll select a lucky winner of a free book.

Read More

Overcoming the Fear of Beggars

Strange but true: the OED has no word for the irrational fear of poor people. Perhaps we have assumed that fear of poor people is more rational than fear of spiders (arachnophobia) or mushrooms (mycophobia) or the number thirteen (triskaidekaphobia). More than ten years ago, I published a book called The Fear of Beggars. It argued that fear of poor people, particularly the ones who do not endure their lot quietly at home but publicly ask for help, is more important than we’ve realized to our economic thinking. That fear influenced both modern economic thought and shaped Christian talk about “stewardship,” both of which claim that responsible ownership, not redistribution of property, is the way to deal with poverty. And poor people who want change should wait (gratefully) for owners to bring that change about. I did not think much about migration at that time. I did not imagine a caravan of migrants walking from violence and life-damaging poverty toward the US. I would have thought it hyperbolic fantasy to think the US would respond to such a move by deploying the military at the border. I didn’t understand the reach of vicious misinformation. It never occurred to me that in the US an anti-Semitic nationalist would kill Jews at prayer because they were, as Jews, associated with an organization that resettles refugees. I had, in truth, no idea...

Read More

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: What Wisdom Sees

Ignorance is bliss, they say, and it’s tempting sometimes to think the only a willful refusal to face reality can give us happiness. Find a way for yourself in the world, take pleasure where you can find it, and tune the rest out: it’s one recipe. But the texts today talk about a different sort of wisdom, and that is good news.

Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Recent Tweets