Reading C.S. Lewis’s autobiographical Surprised by Joy, I was reminded of a useful distinction between two meanings of the word “fantasy.” One is the meaning I outlined in a previous post, namely a kind of literature that brings one into contact with the Other. The second is the self-indulgent fantasy we turn into the verb “fantasize.” Lewis draws the distinction nicely: Continue reading “Fantasy vs. fantazy”
I saw a fellow suffer such a crushing blow
as would have forged a saint out of a lesser man,
and yet he would not suffer, would not cry, or bow.
He kept his head erect, maintained a steady hand,
and sailed away with stolid cheer the sea to cross
and leave a matching wreckage in some other land.
He gave us one glimpse only of his inner gloss,
a single lifting of the curtain: as he turned,
he shook his fist at all behind who mourned his loss.
If you have a teenage reader, you have had this problem. All through their childhood you have fed them good books, fended off junk and inappropriate material, and maybe even previewed library books they wanted to read. But one day they show up with a stack of Young Adult books, each one three to five hundred pages long, none of them familiar, and all of them so—so teen.
And you realize you just can’t do it anymore. You can’t keep up. Continue reading “X-Ray Reads: for the voracious teen reader”
The Arkansas Catholic, a diocesan newspaper, ran an article about my father’s book The Cross My Only Hope. It’s a nice piece and a fitting venue because, as the article notes, the title of the book was taken from a homily by the former bishop of Little Rock, Andrew J. McDonald. Continue reading “My father’s book made the news”
I recently received some questions about how the family is an image of the Trinity. Hans Urs von Balthasar famously mapped the relationships in a family onto the relationship within the Trinity, such that the child in a family is seen as the proceeding love of the husband and the wife and so corresponds to the Holy Spirit who proceeds as the love of the Father and the Son. Scott Hahn picked up that outline in his popularization of Trinitarian theology. Is this a good way to talk about the Holy Spirit?
It can be difficult to dispute Trinitarian theories, because the Trinity is the deepest mystery of our faith. And within the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is arguably the most mysterious of the three persons: What does God’s “breath” or “wind” actually mean? Scripture tells us so little about him!
But our scarcity of information about the Holy Spirit is one reason I would resist describing the Holy Spirit in terms of the child proceeding from a husband and a wife. We have so very few things that we can say for certain about the Holy Spirit that each gleam of light is precious. One of the very few solid things the Church has defined about the Holy Spirit is that he does NOT proceed as a son.
When we speak of the child as the proceeding love of the husband and the wife, I think we get into difficulties on the side of marriage as well. Although beautiful and noble in itself, the union of husband and wife ultimately finds its goal and completion when it is subordinated to the good of children. Speaking of the child as though it WERE the union of husband and wife confuses the two ends of marriage to allow union (the lesser good) to gobble up children (the greater good).
All things considered, I think it best to follow the example of John Paul II. He spoke of the family as an image of the Trinity, but he kept his comparison at the level of “communion of persons.” The family is the first natural communion of persons, and so it points to even more primal Trinitarian communion. John Paul did not attempt to make the Father line up with a husband, the Son with a wife, and the Holy Spirit with a child. When you press the likeness that far, you end up in difficulties.