The Ark in Newark

BVM

In a fine essay that appeared in the December 2013 issue of First Things, poet and critic Dana Gioia lamented the declension in Catholic literature since the mid-twentieth century, and the depressing homogeneity of contemporary American writing in general.  “To visualize the American Catholic arts today,” he wrote, “don’t imagine Florence or Rome.  Think Newark, New Jersey.”[1]  And thinking Newark conjures up visions of rundown apartment buildings and rattling commuter trains.

But Newark conceals a surprise or two up its well-worn sleeve. Continue reading

Whose Baptism Is It Anyway? Old and New Ecumenicalism

English: St. Augustine arguing with donatists.

The Huffington Post reports that the Roman Catholic Church in America and certain Protestant denominations signed the “Common Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Baptism”, which is a statement accepting each other’s baptisms. These Protestants groups are all mainline denominations from the Reformed tradition: the Presbyterian Church USA, Christian Reformed Church in North America, Reformed Church in America, and United Church of Christ.

Probably many readers of this story will think, “Wow, that’s mighty accommodating of the Roman Catholic Church to accept the baptism of those Protestants!” Actually it’s the Reformed churches that are changing their minds, not the church in Rome. Rome has a long tradition of accepting the baptism of schismatics. Continue reading

Tweeting Ex Cathedra: Benedict XVI Joins Twitter

Well, it’s happened. The pope has a twitter account. As I write these words, Benedict XVI has been tweeting for about three hours, and already a million people follow him through eight different language accounts.

Benedict Tweets

Leaders in the hipster churches, the emerging churches, and the evangelical churches have been using twitter for years now. Continue reading