Bloggerhood Etc. 5/11/15

A cross amidst ashes.

Photo via

Best List.5 Reasons Why So Many Christians Are Feeling Burned Out Right Now” by Benjamin J. Corey at Formerly Fundie.

Best Question.What’s the Point of a Professor?” by Mark Bauerlein at The New York Times.

Best Interview.We Are All the Ages We Have Ever Been: An Interview with Rachel Held Evans” by Greg Garrett at Faithful Citizenship.

Best Local Sports Story.Pressure point: The NFL hopes of an entire city will rest on Mariota’s shoulders” by Austin Meek at The Eugene Register Guard.

Best New Musical Instrument.The HUMMbucker Electric Kazoo, A Screeching Kazoo That Plugs Into an Amplifier” by Rebecca Escamilla at Laughing Squid.

Best Photoblog.37 Photos That Prove Little Kids Suck at Hide and Seek” by Ilana at MommyShorts.

Best Dad Post.Hey, Tom Brady” by John Pavlovitz.

Best Generational Landmark. The Oregon Trail Generation: Life Before and After Mainstream Tech” by Anna Garvey at Social Media Week.

Best Story.The Man Who Broke the Music Business” by Stephen Witt at The New Yorker.

Best Video Guide.Airplane Etiquette” by Glove and Boots (via YouTube).

To catch up on the great posts I’m reading online and to get a sneak preview of next week’s candidates, check out my new Around the Blogosphere board on Pinterest.

My Last Redskins Post

Redskin logo facepalming

I’ve had it.

I’m tired of the “organization.” I’m tired of the excuses. I’m tired of the so-called name controversy. I’m tired of the D.C. media gossip, the leaks from who-knows-where, and all the idiot “fans” who think that Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, Joe Shmoe would do better than RGIII behind an NFL-Europe-quality offensive line. Above all, I am tired of the drama.

Sports are supposed to be fun. This isn’t fun anymore.

It’s not just the Redskins. It’s the NFL as a whole. A greedy handful of billionaires pay a slightly larger handful of multi-millionaires and a whole lot of cannon fodder to crash into each other on TV. They only started caring about concussions, or domestic abuse, or a supposedly offensive name when it threatened their bottom line.

I put up with it far longer than I should of. I tried to recapture the innocent fandom of my youth—given one last gasp in 2012—but I was fooling myself. That NFL had its own problems, but I didn’t know then. This NFL has even bigger problems now and I can’t turn a blind eye anymore.

I also can’t twist myself in knots over a team I have no control over.

The difference between a “good” NFL owner and a “bad” NFL owner is simple. The “good” owner is a greedy billionaire who hires the right people to run his front office and hire talented coaches and draft and scout talented players. The “bad” owner is a greedy billionaire who thinks he knows better than everyone else.

Dan Synder, who bought the Redskins in 1999, is a “bad” owner. He has taken the great NFL franchise of the first quarter-century of my life and turned it into a laughing stock.

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How Journalism is Eating Itself

Ouroboros drawing from a late medieval Byzantine Greek alchemical manuscript.

Ouroboros (from a late medieval Byzantine manuscript).


Now that I have your attention, or the attention of your search engine anyway, I have something to get off my chest. What passes for journalism in our country is a mockery of the word. It has devolved from a public duty to a socially-transmitted disease, and I wonder if our civil society can survive it.

This isn’t anything new, of course. Look at cable news, or the internet. There was once a divide between respectable journalism and so-called scandal sheets. A moat that once encompassed and protected our somewhat functional democracy.

That moat has long ago been breached. All media is now gossip, sensationalism, and an insane quest for more eyeballs and more clicks.

What breached the wall for me? What sent me on this rant today when what passes for journalism in our nation has been rotting for years?


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Mandatum Makes it Mandatory

Foot washing at last supper

Duccio di Buoninsegna The Washing of Feet (1308 – 11)

I hate to begin the Triduum—the three days from Holy Thursday to Easter tracing the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ—with a criticism, but this is one of those predictable times of the year when the self-appointed “liturgy police” miss the point. For example . . .

First, let it be remembered that the foot-washing thing during Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Last Supper is an OPTION.  Many problems (and violations of law and good taste and common sense) could be avoided by choosing NOT to do it.  All manner of absurdities are inflicted on God’s people because of this option.

Yes, Father Z, it is an option, but it is an option that should be exercised in the correct way. To suggest, because of some abuses, that it should be moved to the Chrism Mass or dropped altogether seems to miss the point of Christ’s “mandatum” or mandate from which the common name Maundy Thursday derives.

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. —John 13:34, NAB

Jesus has just washed his disciples feet, showing them in a dramatic fashion the self-denying love he wishes the disciples to show one another as well.

And though the foot-washing itself is not the commandment, it is an expression of that commandment and thus an option that should be exercised by the celebrant at the Holy Thursday Mass.

To question its inclusion is to question Christ, who washed his disciples feet at the Last Supper.

To question the inclusion of women is to question our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who included two women among the twelve juvenile prisoners whose feet he washed today at a private Holy Thursday Mass.

Yes, Father Z, you are correct in saying we should pay very close attention to what the prayer says.

But St. Paul was also correct when he wrote that “the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

So to you and to Dr. Peters and to the many others “gnat strainers” who think they’re more Catholic than the Pope and more Christian than Christ, I say to try and be a little less like Peter when he refuses his Lord’s request saying “You will never wash my feet,” and more like Peter’s successor who takes his Lord’s message to heart in humbling himself before the least among us knowing that they are Christ.

For as Christ told Peter “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.”

I pray that those who still don’t get it will eventually understand.

(Hat tip to Millennial Journal)

Five for Francis

Pope Francis bows before the people.

Photo: Associated Press

Here are five thoughts on the new pope.

1) First! The Media has taken to calling him Francis I, which is technically incorrect. While he is the first pope named Francis, the number is normally not added after a regnal name until it is duplicated. For example Queen Elizabeth I of England was simply known as Elizabeth until Elizabeth II became Queen of the United Kingdom in 1952. But the confusion is understandable. The short reigning John Paul I took an ordinal number as part of his name, and after his untimely death was followed a little over a month later by his namesake, the far better known John Paul II. In addition, we’re not used to original pope names. Before John Paul I, the last undisputed “first” was Pope Saint Nicholas I (858-67), while the last pope with a unique name was Lando (913-14). Given his short and forgettable reign it’s doubtful there will be another.

But though technically incorrect, Pope Francis is “The First” in many ways. First Jesuit pope, first “New World Pope,” and first Pope named for St. Francis (or any Francis for that matter).  However, he is not the first non-European pope. By tradition, that distinction goes to the first pope, a Galilean fisherman known to the world as St. Peter. But he is the first non-European since Pope St. Gregory III (731-41) who was Syrian.

2) His Name. Like millions of Catholics around the world, I sat staring at a set of curtains on TV for an hour waiting to find out who the new pope would be (and set a personal record for curtain-staring). Then came the announcement (and the translation):

I announce to you a great joy:
We have a Pope!
The most eminent and most reverend Lord,
Lord Jorge Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Bergoglio,
Who takes for himself the name of Francis.

I wrote on this blog last month how Benedict XVI’s retirement was a great statement of humility. Then as the conclave began on Tuesday, I wrote in a guest post that I was praying for the next pope to follow his example. When I heard the name Francis, I felt my prayers had been answered. St. Francis is, after the Blessed Virgin, the most beloved of all saints, in large part because of his humble simplicity. All the saints are icons of Christ, but St. Francis just might be the most Christlike of them all.

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Habemus Papam . . . Emeritus?

Sede vacante papal arms.

The arms of the Holy See during the papal interregnum (Image: CC BY-SA 3.0)

This is my second Lenten Season as a Catholic (third, if you count the one I observed as a conformation candidate), and it is a historic one. Today, Pope Benedict XVI is relinquishing the Chair of Saint Peter. This is not a once-in-a lifetime occurrence, not even a once-in-a-century one. It has been nearly six hundred years since Pope Gregory XII resigned to end the Western Schism. To put that time frame into perspective, consider that in 1415—the year Gregory resigned—Constantinople was still Christian (it would fall to the Ottomans in 1453) and all of Western and Central Europe were still Catholic (Martin Luther’s father hadn’t been born yet).

So, yes, it’s a big deal, and it will take a while, perhaps even a lifetime, to truly understand the implications, but here are a few thoughts.

First, this is a good reminder of the difference between the man and the office. The authority that Christ granted to Peter is invested in the chair, not in the man who occupies it. Starting tomorrow, Benedict XVI, while retaining his papal name, will no longer be the Bishop of Rome. We who make up the Church, clergy and laity, will need to remember that, for however much longer God grants him the grace of his time on earth, he may be Pope Emeritus (that is retired pope),  but that is an honorific title only. He is no longer the pope, and today he made that clear by pledging obedience to his soon-to-be-elected successor.

Second, the pope holds the keys given by Christ to Peter. These keys are usually surrendered at death, but his handing them back to the Church reminds us that they belong first and foremost to the Church. Just as Christ handed the keys to Peter, the Body of Christ—that is the Church—hands them to Peter’s successor. The power is held by the Church and exercised on the Church’s behalf by the pope. The pope takes Peter’s place, and only for a short time. No one takes Christ’s place.

Third, this is a rare act of humility for one who holds an office invested with so much power. The pope holds several grandiose titles, like Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pontiff, but my favorite title is the one that says what the papacy truly is, but rarely seems to be given the human failings of its many office holders, the Servant of the Servants of God. Jesus told his disciples not to hold authority like the gentiles do, but to serve like he did. He also said that in the Kingdom of God the last shall be first.

To paraphrase Jesus (in Mark 2:27), the Papacy exists to serve the Church not the Church to serve the Papacy. Taking the Pope’s actions at face value, I hope and pray that this rare act of humility will remind us of the pope’s appointed role in the Church, to serve the faithful and to feed the Lord’s sheep. I also hope and pray that his successor takes this lesson to heart as he leads the flock entrusted to him out of the wilderness of Lent and into the promise of Easter.


Cowboys and Indians

AP Photo/G. Newman Lowrance

AP Photo/G. Newman Lowrance

All this talk about the Redskins name—which inevitably comes up when the team starts winning—got me thinking. I’ve already posed my hypothetical situation here. It involves compensation from the league and I don’t see that happening. But even if it did, I don’t want the name to change. I’d like to tell you why, but to do so, I need to start with a story.

About ten years ago or so, when Julia and I were dating, the subject of card games came up. Unlike me, she grew up playing card games with her extended family. We talked about a lot of games—some of which I knew and some I didn’t—and for some reason, we went off on a tangent to joke card games.

“Like Cowboys and Indians,” Julia said.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Well you get out a deck of cards, and you ask the person if they want to be the cowboy or the indian. When they say ‘cowboy,’ you shoot the cards all over the room and say ’round ’em up, pardner!'”

So another version of 52 Pickup. But I had one question.

“What if they pick ‘indian’?”

Julia shook her head. “No one ever picked ‘indian’.”

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