“Actually we’re not:” Freedom and Community in Frozen

Do not let it go. This is terrible advice.

By this point, every parent has heard (probably more often than they would like) the anthem of Disney’s Frozen, “Let It Go.” The song is extremely catchy to say the least. And not nearly as annoying as it could have been. Even my 6 year old boy, who swears he hates Frozen, is often caught singing the song as he concentrates on his Legos. The lyrics of “Let It Go” are relatively straight forward. Elsa has spent most of her life trying to hide her powers. But, now that she doesn’t have to hide, she can “let go” of the past, use her ice powers, live in isolation, and be happy. Superficially, the song seems like the typical postmodern celebration of individuality to the point of severing … [Read more...]

How to fix the world with humility, service, and human excrement

16th century icon of Jesus washing his disciples feet.

“The world would be a better place if everyone had to wipe another person’s butt every day.” I remember thinking this when I first started changing diapers. It’s hard to feel cool and important when a baby is yelling at you and his poop is a few inches from your face. I mean, I feel cool every now and then when I change a diaper incredibly quickly or with one hand or something. But it’s still not a task during which you want to meet your neighbors. This is especially true when you’re just getting started with diapers and you still think of yourself as a smart, cool college guy. That confidence is shaken when your baby has that first big blow out and now you’ve got poop on your hands. Not so … [Read more...]

Saint John of God, patron and extremist

"St. John of God" by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

As an adult convert to Catholicism, I had the good fortune of being able to chose my patron saint without the burden of being an angsty teen. But I still found the whole process overwhelming. How do you choose one amongst thousands? After combing through several volumes of saints, I felt drawn to Saint John of God. I thought his name was pretty epic. And I happened to love a story about him saving people from a burning building. Not kidding, I had recently saved a bedridden old man from a burning building. And then the building exploded. Anyway. Connection? Aside from that superficial reason, I just felt drawn to him. After conversion, I ended up working at a mental health hospital. … [Read more...]

The Last Rites of Boromir

Boromir's departure

One of the most Catholic scenes in Lord of the Rings is the death of Boromir. Shortly after Boromir tried to take the ring from Frodo, the company becomes scattered and is attacked by hundreds of orcs. When the orcs attempt to take Merry and Pippin captive, Boromir defends them, killing at least 20 before he is felled by a barrage of arrows. The warrior collapses next to a tree and is soon found by Aragorn, dying from his wounds. Aragorn knelt beside him. Boromir opened his eyes and strove to speak. At last slow words came. ‘I tried to take the Ring from Frodo,’ he said. ‘I am sorry. I have paid.’ His glance strayed to his fallen enemies, twenty at least lay there. ‘They have gone: the … [Read more...]

Leprosy, Sin, and Quarantine: Lent as a time to restore communion

I mostly picked this picture because I didn't want to post a picture of leprosy.

When you ask someone for their favorite bible verse, people will often have widely varying answers. Some especially love the Psalms, some the Gospels, some the prophets, etc. But rarely will someone rattle off a passage from Leviticus. A book of the Law, Leviticus covers the extensive regulations that governed the Israelites and its pages can often seem irrelevant and overly judicial. And the passages on disease can sometimes be… well, gross. Yet it was one of these passages that the Church had has read this past Sunday, the Sunday before the beginning of Lent: Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling or a scab or a bright spot, … [Read more...]

“Let Us Keep the Fast?” What to do about Sundays during Lent.


The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the Cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.” -Pope Benedict XIV, "Non Ambigimus" A few years back, I heard a priest say during his homily that you should give up … [Read more...]

Gimli, Galadriel, and Guadalupe: An image of Our Lady in the Lady of Lothlorien

The gift Galadriel gave to Frodo was, in essence, star light.

One of the most profound and immediate changes in a character in The Lord of the Rings is the transformation of Gimli the dwarf. This development doesn’t occur because of an encounter with the One Ring or during any of the many battles in which Gimli fights. Instead, Gimli experiences a dramatic change of heart upon meeting the Lady of Lothlorien, Galadriel. Gimli son of Gloin is a brave and faithful dwarf who is firmly on the side of good and never wavers throughout the fellowship’s journey. But he is still a dwarf, a race with a long history of animosity with elves. This enmity nearly brings disaster on the ring bearer’s quest when the elves of Lothlorien require Gimli to wear a … [Read more...]

In defense of staying home

Dawn on Cadillac Trail.

About once a year, I see these custom maps making the rounds on Facebook. The ones that ask you which states or countries you’ve been to and then produce a colored-in map showing the extent of your travels. Sometimes it’s a world map and other times it’s one of the US. I look ok on paper when it comes to the world map. I’ve been to the Philippines plus over half a dozen countries in Europe. That’s respectable, I guess. My US map would look less impressive. I’ve been all over the deep south but have only strayed beyond those borders a few times. Wisconsin when I was younger, a music festival in rural Illinois (three times), two trips to New Mexico. But these maps can be … [Read more...]

Let folly be our cloak!


‘Despair or folly?’ said Gandalf. ‘It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope. Well, let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the enemy! For he is very wise and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning.’ ‘At least for … [Read more...]

The Walking and the Resurrected Dead: Is Jesus Relevant after the Zombie Apocalypse?

Church scene from the first season of The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead isn’t really about zombies. I mean, there are definitely a lot of zombies on the show. But these “walking dead” mostly serve the purpose of creating a horrific and dangerous post-apocalyptic world. The question the show tries to answer is not “What’s the best way to deal with zombies?” but “How do humans behave when faced with horror and tragedy?” Zombies have long since ceased to be be the main threat on The Walking Dead. If anything, they serve to make the circumstances of the characters categorically different from the hardships faced by the viewer. For the most part, the show is set up in a way that the viewer is forced to admit that normal societal norms can’t … [Read more...]