Distractions: March 2012


  • Moral Theologian Cathleen Kaveny (Notre Dame) had a facinating discussion with John Stewart on the “Daily Show” about the debate over Catholic institutions and contraception. Both parts of this interview are well worth your time.
  • Martin Luther certainly had a way with words.  Generate random insults from this great theologian over at the Lutheran Insulter.
  • Megadeath bassist goes to Seminary
  • PBS interviews Paul Simon about God here. He talks about his friendship with John Stott near the end of the interview.


  • Closer to Van Eck: The Ghent Altarpiece up close and in high definition.  Check out this book if you are unfamiliar with the fascinating history of the artwork.
  • Songwriter Bill Mallonee blogs about, “What is art?”  I don’t think I have ever read a better description.
  • The Guggenheim Museum is offering 65 modern art books online for free browsing.  Click “Read Catalogue Online” to browse.  All of these books can be downloaded for free here. 


In 1974, when Colbert was 10, his father, a doctor, and his brothers Peter and Paul, the two closest to him in age, died in a plane crash while flying to a prep school in New England. “There’s a common explanation that profound sadness leads to someone’s becoming a comedian, but I’m not sure that’s a proven equation in my case,” he told me. “I’m not bitter about what happened to me as a child, and my mother was instrumental in keeping me from being so.” He added, in a tone so humble and sincere that his character would never have used it: “She taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the cross and the example of sacrifice that he gave us. What she taught me is that the deliverance God offers you from pain is not no pain — it’s that the pain is actually a gift. What’s the option? God doesn’t really give you another choice.”

  • A map of all the wars and conflicts happening in the world in 2012 here.
  • Real time world statistics
  • Simply put, Semiotics is the study of how signs and symbols comunicate and shape our thoughts and lives. It is all about context. I was introduced to this field through the works of Umberto Eco. This extremely important subject can get real convoluted, real fast.  That is why I am excited about the upcoming release of this book designed to “break it down” for those who are unfamiliar. You can pre-order the book here, or read another introduction here. Now if I just had the fortitude to endlessly pursue more graduate studies:)


  • I am still lamenting the fact that “The Tree of Life” did not win any Oscars.  It should have. Oh well. Many great films have been over looked in the past. In 1969 Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey was up for “Best Picture,” but the musical “Oliver” won instead.  So perhaps the omission of “Tree of Life” from the winner’s circle is a sign of its greatness? It was certainly polarizing.  So was Kubrick’s masterpiece, “In the premier screening of the film, 241 people walked out of the theater, including Rock Hudson who said “Will someone tell me what the hell this is about?” Arthur C. Clark once said, “If you understand ‘2001’ completely, we failed. We wanted to raise far more questions than we answered.”
  • Some links to further articles about the “Tree of Life” or a summary of why it should have won best picture here.


Listening to:


“In our strange cultural moment it is necessary to make a distinction between religious propaganda and religious thought, the second of these being an attempt to do some sort of justice to the rich difficulties present in the tradition. The great problem for Christianity is always the humility of the figure in whom God is said to have been incarnate, and the insistence of the tradition that God is present in the persons of the despised and rejected. The failure of the notionally Christian worlds of Russia and Mississippi to be in any way sufficient to the occasion of Christ among them would be a true report always and everywhere. But theology is only in part social commentary. Crucially it has to do with the authority of a vision, of a world that is only like this world in essence …”


  • And finally, an appropriate poem for Lent from John Donne:

“A Hymn to God the Father”

Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore ;
And having done that, Thou hast done ;
I fear no more.

-John Donne


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