Blog

October 2, 2022

Leaning Into Crazy: Dealing With Impossible People

Leaning into crazy: dealing with impossible people “Man, go ahead, beat me up! Shoot me! You’d be doing me a favor, please come over and hit me.” Imagine saying that to this irate driver who looks like he wants to shoot you? A response like this one not only calmed the raging driver down but totally turned him around. Dr. Mark Goulston explains. If a dog has sunk his teeth into your hand, the key to getting him to release your hand is to push it even further into his mouth. When you do that, he’ll instantly let go. Why? […]
September 18, 2022

The Problem With the Catholic Church is the Crucifix

The problem with the Catholic Church “So why did you become Catholic?” After listening to my abbreviated conversion story, Bob explained that he’d born a Catholic but was now an evangelical Christian. Apparently feeling the need to defend his decision to leave Catholicism to a new convert, Bob declared that the crucifix is depressing and too focused on pain and suffering. After thinking another moment or two, Bob looked at at me and said, “The problem with the Catholic Church is the crucifix.” I thought of that long ago conversation last Thursday, September 14th, the feast of the Triumph of […]
September 11, 2022

The Battleground of Conscience

The battleground of conscience That phrase seems oxymoronic—contradictory—the battleground of conscience, I know. But once I began rereading Fr. Jacques Phillipe’s Searching for and Maintaining Peace, there’s no better metaphor. But first, some brief background. The first chapter of this Fr. Phillippe’s book says it all: “Without Me you can do nothing….(John 15:5) He didn’t say, you can’t do much without Me but you can do nothing.” Searching for and Maintaining Peace There are times that my sins, flaws, weaknesses, frailities, pick one or all, once confessed, I move on. There are others when those same sins, flaws, weaknesses can […]
August 28, 2022

The Rule of Benedict: My School

The Rule of Benedict: My School The Prologue of the Rule of Benedict contains some of the most lryical, lush and arresting prose ever written. These words from the 5th century summon, urge and admonish with utmost delicacy. The school of Benedict: my school. L I S T E N carefully, my child,to your master’s precepts,and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20).Receive willingly and carry out effectivelyyour loving father’s advice,that by the labor of obedienceyou may return to Himfrom whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience. To you, therefore, my words are now addressed,whoever you may […]
August 28, 2022

How Many Will Be Saved? We May Hope Everyone

How many will be saved? The question, “How many will be saved?” isn’t answered. Except through the admonition we’ve heard numerous times from Our Lord, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” His implication clear. Many rush through the wide and inviting gate to where, exactly? Here is the complete reading. Jesus passed through towns and villages,teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.Someone asked him,“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”He answered them,“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,for many, I tell you, will attempt to enterbut will not be strong enough.After the master of the […]
August 21, 2022

We Should Kneel Down in Gratitude!

We should kneel down in gratitude! We should kneel down in gratitude! McCoullough’s comment, “We should kneel down in gratitude!” applies, of course, to more than the personage of George Washington. Still, after watching and listening to McCoullough talk about our first president, I read 1776 a second time. It’s an astounding read. The book reads like a novel as it reveals the immensity and impossibliity of the task looming in front of George Washington. In less than 300 pages, McCoullough relates the extraordinary events of the first year of the American Revolution: 1776. And does so in his classic […]
August 14, 2022

The Distinctly Separate Natures of Women and Men

The distinctly separate natures of women and men “Wait—Are you saying that there’s no difference between men and women? “That the sole difference between the sexes is anatomic and biologic?” The air was suddenly charged. And the easy energy between us gone. Startled and confused, I said, “Well, yes, of course…” But my words faded as I tried to process what was happening, And why the warmth between us had chilled. My obliteration of the distinctly separate natures of women and men had been learned years before. The belief had served me well, I thought. Late that same night, I […]
August 7, 2022

It is Good for Us to Be Here: The Understatement of All Time

It is good for us to be here…the understatement of all time. Peter’s words, “It is good for us to be here…” evokes a smile at the massiveness of the understatement. But after reflecting on what it must have felt like to those three Apostles: Jesus tells them to come up to the mountain with Him, the smile fades into…awe, wonder and ineffable gratitude. Had He extended such an invitation before? Come up to the peak of Mount Tabor and pray with me. Usually we read that Jesus went up to the mountains and prayed. Alone. Perhaps on this day […]
July 31, 2022

The Law of the Gift-And They Had As Much As They Wanted

Bishop Barron speaking about Elijah and the widow The law of the gift “Your being increases in the measure that you give it away.” Bishop Barron on Elijah and the widow. Bishop Barron’s sermon on the prophet Elijah is—as always—packed with wisdom, practical wisdom. He begins his homily by declaring this as one of his very favorite readings in the Old Testament. It’s easy to see why as we review the readings from the Book of Kings. In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath.As he arrived at the entrance of the city,a widow was gathering sticks there; he […]
July 24, 2022

Nothing’s Worse Than Getting Used to the Magnificent

Nothing’s worse than getting used to the magnificent. Years ago while living in the first house I’d ever bought by myself, I had a Ziggy calendar. And this was one of the cartoons for the month. Only in that version, Ziggy was shouting, “YEAH GOD!” I loved that cartoon. On many a morning while driving into the glory of a new sunrise to my job at Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, I’d shout, “Yeah God!!” And pretend not to see the horrified stares of other drivers undoubtedly wondering if there was a crazy person beside them. I was […]
July 17, 2022

The Movie Freedom: The Heroic Story of Slavery in America and England

The movie Freedom: the heroic story of slavery in America and England. Once again, the article I’d written for today sits in draft form waiting completion. A good thing since I’ve still got a couple of books and articles to finish before finishing the piece. So why did my watching the movie Freedom eclipse what I was working on? After watching Cuba Gooding Jr’s excellent perfomance in his 2014 movie Freedom, I felt impelled to tell you about it. John and I discovered this film only because we subscribe to Pureflix, an alternative to Netflix. I learned about Pureflix from […]
July 10, 2022

Prayer: Discipline, Practice or Conversation?

Prayer: Discipline, Practice or Conversation? Prayer is all those things: discipline, practice and conversation—and more. It’s discipline because prayer requires some type of regularity. Eventually habit kicks in and the consequent sense of unease when left undone. For me, even the habit is insufficient but more on that later. Of course, practice applies as verb and noun: the more we practice prayer, the more proficient-prayer begins to feel right. And prayer as noun is a practice in the same sense that medicine and writing are practices—doctors, the good ones, are always learning. As are writers. And yes, prayer is a […]
July 3, 2022

Religion Begins with Experience

Religion begins with experience Religion does not start out with the notion of God. It starts with a personal experience, the overwhelming experience of ultimate belonging. Religion of the Heart On the wall of the bathroom off the foyer in our new—to us— Texas home hangs a frame with two pictures side by side. They reveal two views of a snowy cross-country skiing mountain path in Banff , Canada. The photograph on the right shows a mountain stream, with snow-covered rocks. If I squint and use my imagination, I can see the image of a solitary bird. Pretty. Even arresting […]
June 26, 2022

Father of Prochoice: Dr. Bernard Nathanson

Father of Prochoice: Dr. Bernard Nathanson Reading three books The Hand of God, Aborting America and Pillar of Fire is a bit much for a 2000 word article. Even for me. But when my friend Mary sent me an article called, “How Chuck Colson Thought Abortion Would End,” the weekly article I’d intended for today slid to the back burner. Dr. Nathanson was the catalyst for my coming out against abortion. Years ago, I was the Hospital Director at UMASS Medical Center and a brand new Christian Catholic. When asked by a third-year-medical student to attend a panel discussion-debate on […]
June 19, 2022

June: The Month of Graduation Speeches

It’s June: the month of graduation speeches Over my professional life, I have come to the realization that history is not a fixed thing, a collection of precise dates, facts and events, but a mysterious and malleable thing, constantly changing, not just as new information emerges, but as our own interests, emotions and inclinations change. Each generation rediscovers and reexamines that part of its past that gives its present new meaning and new possibility. The question becomes for us now—for you graduates especially—what will we choose as our inspiration? Ken Burns Universityof Pennslyvania Commencement The goal of a graduation address […]
June 12, 2022

Time: Ordinary and Otherwise

Time: Ordinary and otherwise Time. It’s kind of like breath, or air, or water. We consume them as we do all commodities, thinking we have all we need, all the time in the world. Until suddenly, we don’t. Maybe because of serious illness when I was four, time has always felt like gift to me. And perhaps those multiple emergency trips to the operating room brought an unusual acquaintance with death. Hence wasting time and boredom are anathema. In fact, not infrequently I write of the inimical effects of boredom and wince when hearing someone say, “Let’s kill time by […]
June 5, 2022

People Don’t Change Their Minds

People don’t change their minds The simmering Roe Vs Wade controversy is now a rolling boil. The catalyst? The powerfully written prose with which Archbishop Cordelione explained Speaker Pelosi’s prohibition from the Eucharist. Until she changes her aggressive stand on abortion as a right and good for women. Nancy Pelosi’s response makes me wonder if she even read Cordelione’s document since she treats the dispute as another family disagreement. Clearly, she considers this as one of a list of policy disputes she has with him, rather than a portent of eternal life or death. “Now our archbishop has been vehemently […]
May 29, 2022

Detachment: Essential Tool for Sanity

Detachment: Essential tool for sanity What do we do when faced with human heartache? Fr. Derek Sakowski asks the question in a recent article called Fixing vs Facing. So think about it for a minute or three. How do you react while watching or reading the report of the latest horrors in the Russian Ukrainian war? Or the firing of renowned Princeton classics professor Joshua Katz for defending truth and refusing to cow to the “narrative?” How about the latest school shooting where the teen shooter manages to take twenty-one lives before losing his own? And the— it seems, obligatory […]
May 22, 2022

In Praise of Work- The Christian in the World

In praise of work- The Christian in the world. If the title seems peculiar, particularly the correlation between praising work with the Christian in the world, by the end of this piece, I hope you’ll see the association between work and Christians living in the world. “So Lin, what will you do when you retire?” My friend Steve, then an intensivist at the Texas Medical Center where we both worked, knew my answer. He just wanted to see what happened when I said what I always did: That I never wanted to retire in front of the group of burned […]
May 15, 2022

We Have No Right to Happiness: Last Words of CS Lewis

We have no right to happiness: Last words of CS Lewis Right, it’s the title of the last article CS Lewis penned before he died. I’ll admit his statement consititutes a 180 for me since I have written numerous times about happiness—what I think is entailed to be happy. And more recently, thoughts that achieving happiness have more to do with avoiding unhappiness (the last I don’t think Mr. Lewis would disagree with.) Lewis begins his last written words this way: “After all,” said Clare. “they had a right to happiness.” We were discussing something that once happened in our […]
April 7, 2019

Writing: A Surprisingly Effective Antidote to Stress

Writing as an antidote to stress? How can that be true? Seems to the casual observer that spending days, sometimes months studying opaque topics like epigenetics, or court cases about physicians wrongfully convicted of murder or former combat marines wrongfully convicted of raping a child would cause stress, not relieve it…and not just the research going into the story that all that rest that goes into creating…and then publishing a book. How can all that work possibly relieve one’s stress? Stress is both over and under estimated. “I am so….stressed out right now!” Usually when we think or say this, […]