I am a scientist. From an early age, science has been important to me. Science is very effective at learning about the physical world. But science does not address the meaning of life. And the pursuit of science, though noble, does not in itself make one a good person. I was raised as a Southern Baptist. I learned a lot about the Bible during these years. I learned about God and Jesus. When I was nine years old I became a Christian and was baptized. But for me, the Baptist Church left a lot of questions unanswered. Also, I had difficulty reconciling science with faith. In college, I was introduced to Catholicism. I read various Catholic writers and regularly attended daily Mass. I was especially impressed by St. Augustine’s Confessions. It was the first time I had encountered an intellectual, yet deeply spiritual, view of Christianity. I have attended Mass ever since, but I never took the step of becoming Catholic. Continue reading →
I created a blog because blogging is a good forum for developing one’s thoughts and putting them in writing without the burden of creating perfect prose or essay quality writing. Just get the ideas out there and refine later. Unfortunately, I tended to try to write “finished product” from the start, resulting in a bit of paralysis and infrequent posting.
I’ve decided to start blogging again and leave the essay writing for another forum. Which is not to say that you should read my older “essay” posts: some are pretty good. But I hope to get more things out, and perhaps engage more bloggers. Maybe this blog might even become interesting.
It’s been over a year since my last post, and even longer since I wrote about my travels to see the solar eclipse of 2017. Shortly afterwards my second oldest son, who is the artistic director of a small video production company, did his best to make a video of the event using the raw material I provided: some rough time lapse, raw video of totality, and audio recordings of the whole event which included nature sounds and the neighborhood “eclipse party”. Considering what he had to work with, it came out great. So after having it for well over a year I thought I would post a link to it. Not quite like being there, but I think you might enjoy it.
Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” has been subjected to a level of scrutiny unparalleled in any recent papal magisterium. Chapter 8, in which Pope Francis calls for compassionate discernment for families in “irregular situations”, has been placed under a legal microscope by both detractors looking for heresy and supporters seeking clarification. This attention to legal detail is necessary: there are many good reasons why canon law exists. But this cannot be allowed to obscure the teaching of “Amoris Laetitia”, and the beauty and truth of the life it calls all to live. What is needed is a frame of reference that can reconcile the “legal” with the “lived”. Continue reading →
As the title of this post suggests, the origin of man, his supernatural destiny, and how that destiny is to unfold in light of the fall is an area that I am particularly concerned with here. It is an area rich in interpretive possibilities, but also one which modern evolutionary biology, secular humanism, relativism, and so on puts strain on the boundaries between truth vs fable, Tradition with a capital “T” vs tradition with a small “t”, “settled” dogma vs. legitimately open theological speculation. It is on this latter point that I have been subjecting my own understanding of human origins, the fall, and redemption to ensure that I hold only defined teaching as non-negotiable while allowing more range on anything else. These questions are not simply important topics for the theologians or theologian “wannabes” like myself; the answers should profoundly impact one’s own interior life and the right ordering of our relationships with others and society. Continue reading →
I had almost forgotten and might have missed it, had my wife not called to remind me that NASA TV coverage of Cassini’s last moments was about to begin. The Cassini spacecraft arrived in the Saturn system 13 years ago and since that time has provided a seemingly endless stream of incredible discoveries, breathtaking images, and enough data to keep doctoral students occupied for decades to come. But the “seemingly endless” was about to end. When I connected, there was less than one hour remaining in this awe inspiring space mission. Continue reading →
A total eclipse of the sun! For the first time in my life, I decided to make a “pilgrimage”; in this case a road trip of almost 2000 miles, to experience something I can only describe as a moment of transcendent beauty. The journey was not without its difficulties, but the effort was rewarded beyond my highest expectations. The breathtaking beauty of totality was complemented by numerous delightful surprises; the sound of cicadas tricked into thinking night had fallen early, the numerous eclipse shaped images cast by the sun filtering through the trees, or the sounds of sheer delight expressed by nearby humans. In a moment, I went from someone who might see an eclipse one day if the chance arose, to a “chaser”: my plans for the eclipse of 2024 are already underway. Continue reading →
I struggled with the title of this post. Something that would capture the essence of the topic and also get someone’s attention. But it certainly is risky. Any association of the two words “hell” and “love” can sound more like the musings of a jaded lover coming off a failed relationship: a bit of a metaphor for a painful human experience. Continue reading →