An important new book for you

Each year, I write a column sharing with readers the title and a brief synopsis of the 10 books that touched me most that year. Occasionally, however, I judge a book to be exceptional enough to merit its own column.  Robert Ellsberg’s new book, A Living Gospel – Reading God’s Story in Holy Lives, is…

What makes for Christian communion?

The question of intercommunion within our churches today is a big one, an important one, and a painful one. I’m old enough to remember another time – actually, to remember two other times. First, as a young boy growing up in the pre-Vatican II Church, intercommunion with other Christians, non-Romans, was a taboo. It just…

Rachel Held Evans, 1981-2019

No community should botch its deaths. Mircea Eliade wrote those words and they’re a warning: if we do not properly celebrate the life of someone who has left us we do an injustice to that person and cheat ourselves of some of the gift that he or she left behind. With this in mind, I…

Jesus died afraid…many do

A common soldier dies without fear; Jesus died afraid. Iris Murdoch wrote those words which, I believe, help expose an over-simplistic notion we have of how Faith reacts in the face of death. There’s a popular notion that believes that if we have strong Faith we should not suffer any undue fear in the face of…

Jean Vanier (1928-2019)

‘Our differences are not a 
threat but a treasure’   Jean Vanier, the Founder of L’Arche, who died in Paris on May 7, wrote the words above, but their truth is far from self-evident. One might question whether those words are simply a nice-sounding poetics or whether they contain an actual truth. Our differences, in…

The marriage bed

During the years that I served as a Religious Superior for a province of Oblate Priests and Brothers in Western Canada, I tried to keep my foot inside the academic world by doing some adjunct teaching at the University of Saskatchewan. It was always a once-a-week, night course, advertised as a primer on Christian theology,…

Who goes to Hell and who doesn’t?

Hell is never a nasty surprise waiting for a basically happy person. Nor is it necessarily a predicable ending for an unhappy, bitter person. Can a happy, warm-hearted person go to Hell? Can an unhappy, bitter person go to Heaven? That’s all contingent upon how we understand Hell and how we read the human heart.…

Practising mysticism

“I’m a practicing mystic!” A woman said that in one of my classes some years ago and it raised lots of eyebrows. I was teaching a class in mysticism and asked the students why the topic of mysticism interested them. Their responses varied: some were simply intrigued with the concept; others were spiritual directors who…