Tag Archives: Catholicism

Simone Weil and the gift of inarticulacy: How not to live in lockdown

11 May

We are living through a time of rupture. Our lives, suddenly turned outside in, are lived at the pace of interruption. These interruptions have their banal form: living with others from whom there is little space or peace, alone and unable to see others who form the pattern of our normal daily living; and they have their profound forms: deaths that happen suddenly and without the hoped-for comforts of all we have come to associate with good dying and grieving.

So begins British Catholic social thinker Anna Rowlands’ op-ed on the helpfulness of Jewish-turned-Christian philosopher Simone Weil on dealing with “what is” now: the Covid-19 crisis. You may read the entire piece at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Religion & Ethics site here.

Seven spiritual beliefs of young adults

6 Apr

For more than a decade scholars have been investigating the spiritual lives of teenagers and young adults in the US in a sustained research project called the National Study of Youth and Religion. In the latest installment in this project, we interviewed a range of emerging adults about their lives, their relationships, their hopes and dreams, and even their failures. The young adults responded in articulate and insightful ways about these aspects of their lives.

But their articulateness did not extend to talking about religion or spirituality. This inarticulacy has been noted over the life of the research project, starting when the subjects were teens. In the intervening years, their ability to articulate religious teachings and exactly what they believe doesn’t seem to have improved in any significant way.

So begins an excerpt from a new sociological study of the religious beliefs of emerging adults. You may read the entire Christian Century piece by Denton and Flory here.

Ancient Monks Got That Quarantine Feeling, Too

2 Apr
A personification of Acedia from between 1550 and 1625

A personification of acedia from between 1550 and 1625
 via Wikimedia Commons

It’s the noon hour. All of a sudden, you have a need to escape or, conversely, to surrender to torpor, into the throes of an afternoon nap, even if you’re not really tired. Perhaps you also have an urge to daydream about a romantic and exciting place beyond confined walls.

A tale in the age of coronavirus isolation? Not exactly: the ancients wrote extensively on this feeling centuries ago. These descriptions go back to desert monks of the fourth century, who were warned about the dangers of what was called acedia.

So begins Peter Feuerherd’s concise reminder of that which Christian monks called acedia. (Kathleen Norris has more recently written about it in her Acedia & Me.) You may read the entire JSTOR Daily piece here.

What the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Meant for American Churches

14 Mar

The headline for Oct. 7, 1918 in Maysville, Kentucky, one of the many places where American churches were closed in the fall of 1918 – Chronicling America/Library of Congress

Almost fifteen years ago, the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan began to work on The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919: A Digital EncyclopediaUpdated in 2016, it surveyed how fifty American cities experienced and responded to the “Spanish flu.” The authors wrote a narrative essay and timeline for each city, but even more valuably, they digitized thousands of documents and images. I first used the influenza encyclopedia to research an essay for one of my own digital projects, a 2015 history of Bethel University’s experience of warfare since 1914.

So writes historian Chris Gehrz in his fascinating look at churches and the 1918-9 influenza epidemic in the U.S. You may read his entire Anxious Bench post here.

The Impossible, Necessary History of the Hymnal

13 Aug

Phillips, The Hymnal

Historian Chris Gehrz provides a fascinating review of a new book, The Hymnal, by Christopher N. Phillips. You may read the review here.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Art (1460–1921)

17 Apr
notre dame

Vüe de l’intérieur de l’Eglise Cathédrale de notre Dame de Paris, artist unknown, 1670 — Source.

Public Domain Review has a fascinating post on Notre Dame Cathedral in art, per the sample above. See all the items here.

Sainthood for Black Elk?

22 Aug

Nicholas Black Elk, left, with daughter Lucy Black Elk and wife, Anna Brings White, photographed in their home in Manderson, S.D., circa 1910. Black Elk wears a suit, his wife wears a long dress decorated with elk’s teeth and a hair pipe necklace. Photo courtesy of Denver Public Library/Creative Commons

(RNS) — The Catholic Church could get its second Native American saint if a Vatican research trip to South Dakota this month leads to confirmation of two miracles performed by Nicholas Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux medicine man born in the Civil War era.

So begins a Religion News Service report by Kirk Petersen. You may read the entire report here.

Exploring the Past

Reading, Thinking, and Blogging about History

Enough Light

"In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't." - Blaise Pascal

Lenten Lamentations

Preparing to Participate in God's Mosaic Kingdom

The Text Message

Discoveries from processing and reference archivists on the job

john pavlovitz

Stuff That Needs To Be Said

Wirelesshogan: Reflections from the Hogan

"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

The Way of Improvement Leads Home

"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

The Pietist Schoolman

The website and blog of historian Chris Gehrz

Reformed Journal: The Twelve

Reformed. Done Daily.


by Alex Scarfe


Thoughtful Conversation about the American West

Northwest History

"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

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