The Goal of Christian Morality: Our Happiness!

 

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Saint Teresa in Ecastasy, 1647-52

 

One of my favorite topics in moral theology is the the place of happiness in Catholic moral thought, and in this post I want to dive a little more deeply than normal into some theology, but bear with me…

There is an unfortunate tendency today among many — even among some committed Christians — to believe that Christian moral norms are apparently arbitrary whims imposed on us by God and/or by our Church leadership.

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Why Do You Persecute Me?

 

Caravaggio, Conversion on the Way to Damascus, 1601

One of the most compelling Scripture passages is found in chapter 9 of the Acts of the Apostles: the conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus. Among the many fascinating aspects of this narrative is the connection Jesus makes between Himself and His Church. His first words to Paul are, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” and when Paul asks who He is, Jesus replies, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

Obviously, Paul was not literally persecuting Jesus, in that He had already ascended into Heaven. However, he was persecuting Jesus’ community of disciples, and so from Jesus’ words to Paul, we find a certain kind of identity between Jesus Himself and His Church, to such a degree that to attack the one (the community of disciples) is to attack the other (Jesus Himself).

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Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and What It Means to Be Human

 

Michelangelo, The Creation of Adam, 1511-1512

 

If one of the central purposes of Cruciform is to offer a Christian perspective on (American) culture, I suppose it’s time I wade into the cultural issue of the day: Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner.

Actually, I’m not going to comment directly on Jenner himself. Instead, I want to look a bit deeper at what his attempted change in sex from man to woman and the discussion it’s generated means about how we answer this question today: what does it mean to be human?

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Communicating in an Age of Distraction

The Light Phone

 

We’ve now come to a place where what we once called “dumb phones” are heralded as a technological advance and novelty.

A few weeks back I came across this article about a new phone called “The Light Phone,” a cell phone that is lasts for an incredible 20 days on one charge. But that’s not what’s most notable about the Light Phone; what is most notable about the Light Phone is that you can do one thing and one thing only on it: have a phone conversation.

The Light Phone, in other words, is a dumb phone, and frankly, it’s even dumber than dumb phones, because you can’t even text with it! No apps, no mobile web browser, no music… just. a. phone.

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We’re Not Worthy, We’re Not Worthy!

 

 

Despite the title of this post and the image above, this is not a post about Wayne or Garth, but rather one that continues the discussion begun in last Monday’s post on Avengers: Age of Ultron.

As I mentioned in that post and in other posts on Christianity & culture, one of my goals with Cruciform is to occasionally offer examples of engaging culture by thinking deeply about the presumptions, messages and questions-posed by the music, movies and other cultural artifacts we encounter. This is what I call playing “movie critic” (as opposed to “movie maker,” i.e. cultural engagement by creating new culture).

In last week’s post I looked at some of the more subtle philosophies presented in Avengers. In this post, I’d like to look at one of the more humorous plot points in this blockbuster and its implications…

 

****(Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t seen the film and don’t like having your surprises spoiled, stop reading this post now!)****

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The Simplicity of a Child

 

 

Back in 2002 then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005) published his three book-length interview, God and the World, his second such work with the German journalist Peter Seewald.

Despite the fact that the book is thirteen years old and that Ratzinger/Benedict is now living out the remainder of his life essentially out of the public eye, the interview remains a powerful text, worthy of consideration and reflection. In this post, I’d like to highlight one excerpt that relates to recent posts here at Cruciform.

Seewald asks the Cardinal about Jesus’ enthusiastic love for children, and quotes Matthew 11:25: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes.” Ratzinger comments thusly:

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Cultural Case Study: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Theatrical release poster

Two things up front: first, this is going to be a messy post. Second, I’m hoping that a good discussion in the comments will enhance the post and perhaps even make the entire thing  — post and comments together — somewhat less messy.

Let’s begin.

As stated in recent posts and as implied in the subtitle of this blog (“Exploring the Intersection of Christianity and Culture”), one of my central purposes for Cruciform is to consider how we can engage culture in two ways: by evaluating the culture in which we find ourselves, and by creating new culture. Or to use a metaphor: to be a “movie critic” or a “movie maker”.

In this post I’d like to engage in the first form of cultural engagement (“movie critic”) in a more literal sense by looking at the last Marvel Studio’s blockbuster movie Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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