Mike is a husband and dad who lives in Denton, Texas. His essays have appeared in Aleteia, FEE, the Libertarian Catholic, and Church Pop. Mike has also written for the upstart cultural commentary site The Everyman. He can be followed on twitter @laffyjaphy and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/laffyjaphy
We are living in a time of extreme social fracturing. The variables that have led us to this condition are multifaceted, but much can be discerned by observing the post-modern penchant to limit the scope of human flourishing–through exclusively materialist conceptions of man–by advancing a limited view of freedom that idolizes radical autonomy.
This two-fold circumscription of the human person has ultimately harvested the fruits of a culture that no longer remembers the purpose for which they were created. Ultimately, the model representation of this counterfeit anthropology—advanced by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in Casey v. Planned Parenthood—is the assertion that, “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” This way of thinking neuters traditional cultural mores that enshrines the nuclear family, church, community, and solidarity by promoting a myopic view of human flourishing that enshrines the subjective views and experiences of the individual.
Congratulations to Jack Phillips for finally having his case heard by judges who have not lost their damn minds. Unfortunately, it had to make it to the Supreme Court before he would receive some retribution. After six long years of litigation the justices ruled almost unanimously that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, who forced Phillips out of the wedding cake business altogether, was clearly operating unconstitutionally by exhibiting anti-religious sentiment in their handling of Masterpiece Cakeshop. This is a small win for Christians looking to live out their faith in the public square, but a win nonetheless. The question still remains if artisans are constitutionally protected, against the intrusion of government, to follow the tenets of their beliefs when providing a public service. Almost like magic, gay rights activists throughout the country have targeted and attacked Christian operated small businesses in their crusades to conscript their uncompromising beliefs onto the larger public. Continue reading “A (Small) Win for Christians”
I am late to the party as usual. Authors with a good sense of time are responsible and submit their thoughts for publishing at least a week prior to any given holiday. That is not me; unfortunately, I am more often the last to the show because I don’t really look much at calendars. This invariably means I manage to get T-Boned by low holidays when I wake the morning of. Nonetheless, I have a few reflections on this particular secular feast. For Christians it is one that should, at the minimal, be approached with extreme skepticism.
Of course, I am speaking of Earth Day.
The annual celebration began in 1970 in response to activist John McConnell’s proposition at a UNESCO conference to “honor the earth and the concept of peace.” On its face, this day should not seem out of line with the faith. We worship the Prince of Peace and are vocationally called to be good stewards; so what is the problem? For one, Earth day is not so peaceful when considering a particular theme synonymous with the holiday’s celebration.
I have had one opportunity to view the Tilma of Saint Juan Diego prominently on display at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was in my early twenties while I was working as a contractor on the Mexican Railroad. The chance to see it could easily be described as providential. We were logging ninety hour weeks and had not begun a day with any destination in mind. Mornings began promptly with packing up suitcases from the night before, and at sundown we would find a room wherever the railroad had brought us. Somehow, Mexico City became the only extended destination of our month long journey down the railways of the Ferrocarril. Knowing I was as close to the Basilica as I would ever be; I hailed a cab and went to Tepeyac Hill where Juan Diego had first encountered the Blessed Virgin.
My morning routine is pretty simple. I rise early enough to pray before my wife and kids are up and ready to conduct an orchestra of clamor on a once quiet household. Typically, my approach to shaking the early morning daze that accompanies me in prayer is a stout cup of coffee and Lauds. Once a week, I like to divert from this well tread path and read from a Spiritual classic. Of late the sermons of Johannes Tauler, the Fourteenth Century German Dominican Priest and Mystic, has been my reading of choice. Tauler was an intellectual descendant of the great mystic Meister Eckhart, but his ministry seemed more geared towards where the rubber of theology meets the road of daily life. This is why I find him to be such a profound preacher. His sermons transcend culture and time and cut straight to the heart of human nature.
Cardinal Sarah has once again stirred up the progressive wing of the Church by summoning the Catholic faithful to return to receiving Holy Communion on the tongue and kneeling. In the preface of a new book, the prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship explains the irreverent manner in which so many Catholics today receive the Holy Eucharist is “sowing errors” and causing “Jesus to suffer for those who Profane Him.” Cardinal Sarah, for his part, offers the faithful models to follow in Saint Pope John Paul II and Saint Theresa of Calcutta regarding the proper reverence due to the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Obviously the troubles with this flippant act are legion, as the Cardinal lays out in his forward, but what strikes me particularly involves the history of receiving the Eucharist on the hand. Not only was the practice mostly foreign to the faithful throughout Church history, but the discussion only seems to appear in relation to heretical strains of Christian communities attempting to subvert the Church. The Arians of the third century and the Protestant reformers both found the impious practice as a useful tool in their arsenals to undermine magisterial authority.