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Advent Is Not Christmas, but Christ’s Arrival Is at Its Center

The first foundational principle of the Word on Fire movement is “unwavering Christocentrism”: that is, to have our Lord Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, of everything that we do. As St. Paul said to the Colossians, “As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him” (Col. 2:7). Jesus Christ is Lord, which means he’s Lord of every aspect of our lives. That includes every part of our selves: body, mind, and soul. Every relationship: marriages, family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers, people we interact with online. Every activity: finances, entertainment, leisure activities. Our whole life: from beginning to end. And the more completely and wholeheartedly we acknowledge Christ as Lord in each and every part of our lives, the more fully we will be conformed to his image—which means…

Agape Love: The Argument from Johnny Cash

There is a kind of supra-rational argument to be made for God through beauty, particularly through music. Matthew Becklo provides one such example using the music of Johnny Cash.

Happy Thanksgiving from Word on Fire!

From the team here at Word on Fire, we would like to wish you and yours a very blessed Thanksgiving holiday! Read today's post for a short reflection on the biblical representation of the "sacred banquet," as well as what thanksgiving really means in the life of the Church.

“Fiddler on the Roof” Fifty Years Later: A Fresh Take on Tradition

Half a century since its original film adaptation, Fiddler on the Roof came to our local stage last week. I was seeing it for the first time but was familiar enough with it to anticipate at least the most celebrated of its catchphrases, “Tradition!” What I did not anticipate was how the play’s handling of that topic within an early-twentieth-century Ukrainian-Jewish context would cast such a revealing light upon the Christian meaning of the term. Without tradition, Fiddler’s protagonist Tevye tells us right at the start, the lives of his fellow Ashkenazi Jews would be as precarious as someone playing violin on a housetop. Making ends meet in the humble fictional village of Anatevka, he relates, is not easy, so “how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one…

The Steadying Hand of Experience

The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely.—William Osler One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.—James Russell Lowell Adventure is worthwhile.—Aesop Years ago, as a newly minted third-year medical student turned loose (from two years of mind-numbing classroom lectures) to roam the medical wards of a bustling Minneapolis hospital, I felt someone warmly put their hand upon my shoulder. Turning, I beheld the unfamiliar face of a wizened senior physician. Grey, stooped, and bespectacled, he smiled at me and pointed to the numerous books and cheat sheets awkwardly stuffed into the groaning pockets of my white coat. “Someday,” he winked, “you won’t need to carry any of those around.” As he walked away, I muttered, “When?” What on earth was he talking about, and how would I ever arrive at such…

Jackie Kennedy’s Veil and the Weight of Apocalypse 

Fifty-eight years later, the images are still so very vivid. The funeral cortege; the deeply somber and silent crowds lining the streets; the riderless horse, named “Black Jack,” carrying a pair of highly polished, be-spurred boots in his stirrups to represent the fallen leader. The quietly respectful narration of the media, so unimaginable today, as a young matron, surrounded by the enormous Kennedy clan and appropriate members of the government leadership, walked behind her husband’s flag-draped casket. Most do not recall that Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy had only months earlier lost her infant son, Patrick, born five weeks prematurely. Most do not consider that her post-natal chemistry and the terrible grief of losing a “preemie” (a subject less readily discussed or even acknowledged back in the day), had likely combined to lay its own silent burden on her, one to be carried in the face of public…

What the Catholic Church Is Not, in Four Words

In my discernment that ultimately led to coming into full communion with the Catholic Church, one of my biggest challenges was figuring out just what the Church is. For years as a Protestant, every Sunday I rattled off the same formula that Catholics do: “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.” I ultimately found some clarity in Lumen Gentium about what these four marks of the Church mean. And I heartily commend paragraphs 811-870 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, along with Bishop Barron’s chapter “The Church” in his recent book Light from Light. But you may find you need to approach the issue a little differently.   Ecclesiology—that is, the study of the Church—is a particularly slippery…

“Shang-Chi” Presents the Strength of Peace and Self-Gift

“You have nothing to fear. You have the heart of our dragon…take everything we’ve given you and make it your own.”  —Ying Li, mother of Shang-Chi Parenthood is one of the most humiliating and awe-inspiring, painful and joyful, thrilling and debilitating experiences this world has to offer. Children, adopted or biological, bear the marks of their parents, the ones that raised them and/or the ones that bore them. Each one of us as imago dei are living icons of this reality. Our image is given to us through God the Father and our likeness—though also given—is enhanced or marred by our relationship with him or lack thereof.  Within any relationship, two persons pass on to one another their own healing or their pain. This is an all-too-common…

Harrison Lemke and the Humanity of Art

A couple of years ago, singer-songwriter Harrison Lemke was playing a small house show in my living room. My husband and I had rearranged the furniture so that our little house could accommodate two dozen people. Our four kids were sitting on pillows and local friends as well as a few folks we knew through “Catholic Twitter” (including Lemke and his wife Magdalene) occupied our chairs and couch.  I prayed for all the wrong reasons and you heard me. I prayed and you showed me some weird kind of mercy. Lemke introduced one haunting song with the story behind it. As an elementary student, Lemke had procrastinated on a school project and prayed earnestly that he wouldn’t have to turn it in the next morning in class. The work was still undone. An unexpected windstorm…

From Gundam to God: Tyler McNabb and Reformed Epistemology

Tyler McNabb, PhD, is an associate professor of philosophy currently teaching at the University of St. Joseph in Macau on the south coast of China. Previously, he was an assistant professor at Houston Baptist University. He is the author of several well-regarded books, including Religious Epistemology (Elements in the Philosophy of Religion) and the co-author of Plantingian Religious Epistemology and World Religions. He spoke with the Word on Fire Institute’s Matt Nelson about reformed epistemology and how his teenage crisis of faith brought him to where he is today. This is the first in Word on Fire’s periodic series “The Evangelizer’s Path.” Matt Nelson: First of all, can you say something about how you came to pursue philosophy as a professional vocation? Dr. McNabb:…