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The Shocking Truth: It Is Good That You Exist

A decade ago, when I daily toiled at my blog, I would sift through emails or moderate comments and occasionally encounter those who would presume to tell me I was going to hell. Sometimes I would see these same people on social media and be struck by how incapable they seemed of putting out a good word in season to anyone, except those who were similarly cranky or dyspeptic. They were simply miserable, unhappy people, capable of laughter only, it seemed, if the joke came at the expense of someone they and their cohorts were openly gossiping about. It always bothers me to see Christians get into such a habit of derision that they seem unable to speak a six-word sentence that might be the most humane and important one we can utter, because it puts us in perfect agreement with the Creator: “It is good that you exist.” As…

It’s Not the End of the World…Is It?

In the midst of a global pandemic and extreme civil unrest in the United States, is it alarmist or conspiratorial for Christians to talk a little bit about the end of the world? I think not. For my part, I’ve been thinking about the end of the world for most of my life. In my evangelical home growing up, we talked about how much we loved Jesus, and we knew he was coming back one day. No big deal. Things changed when I was thirteen, and my two sisters and I began attending a private Christian school. It was 1993, and end times prophecy was about to become a cottage industry. But long before the Left Behind novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, there was Donald W. Thompson’s 1972 film A Thief in the Night, followed by three sequels. The administration at our school broadcast these movies over…

Mary: Why We Need Our Lady of Sorrows in 2020

Our Blessed Mother Mary is known by many gracious and descriptive titles, including “The Theotokos” (The God-Bearer); Our Lady of Grace; Our Lady, Help of Christians; Our Lady, Undoer of Knots; among others—and “Mother” most appropriately. On this day, she is venerated as Our Lady of Sorrows. It may seem rather odd to devote ourselves to a sorrowful mother. How does one find solace in a being so seemingly full of woe? But as with all things Marian, in this mode Mary of Nazareth continues to personify the perfection of humanity for us.  We should look to her not only for her premiere example of motherhood, of receptivity, and of femininity, but also an example of full humanity itself. Within her, we find the human condition par excellence, and in her person we are meant to see redeemed humanity. Indeed, today we…

Tour de France: Evangelization on Two Wheels

A few nights ago, I was watching the day’s rebroadcast of the Tour de France with my wife, and as the peloton made its way through beautiful rolling hills and verdant green fields of the French countryside, the announcer shocked me by exclaiming, “That was the Lady of La Salette sanctuary we just flew past. Built between 1852 and 1879 . . . it’s the second Catholic pilgrimage in France after Lourdes. . . . The Virgin Mary was said to appeared there in the guise of a crying woman on September 19, 1846.” Firstly, I had never heard of Our Lady of La Salette, so I looked it up. Secondly, was I just informed of important Church history and Mariology from a sporting broadcast? Yes! Yes, I was, and so was every other person that watched Le Tour that day. I started to tear up, took my wife’s…

On Christianity, Tolerance, and the Need to “Coexist”

Since the year 2000, the world has been confronted with the “Coexist” bumper sticker. This small but mighty bumper billboard creatively substitutes symbols of different world religions and ideologies for particular letters of the word “Coexist.” The image was first produced by graphic designer Piotr Młodożeniec who used it in an international art competition sponsored by the Museum on the Seam for Dialogue, Understanding, and Coexistence. Admittedly, many times when I have met this bumper sticker in the past, I have done so with a certain frustration. This frustration, I believe, arose out of a disagreement with the dictates of the pithy proclamation, coupled with a lack of the particular knowledge and articulation of a tenable defense. Yet, to paraphrase Thomas Sowell, you know you are in trouble when you realize that a person’s one or two line statement is going to require hours and paragraphs to begin to refute.

Why Mark Galli, Former Editor-in-Chief of “Christianity Today,” Decided to Become Catholic

Recently, Tod Worner, the Managing Editor of Evangelization & Culture, the Journal of the Word on Fire Institute, had the chance to have a conversation with Mark Galli. Mark has served as a Presbyterian pastor, respected journalist, and most recently, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, an international magazine founded by Billy Graham in 1956 that is widely considered to be a leading voice for evangelicalism. On September 13, 2020, Mark will be received into the Catholic Church. After a decade of pastoral work, you moved into journalism. Not only have you been a prolific writer (nine books and innumerable essays), but you have also held editorships in several prominent Christian periodicals including, most recently, Christianity Today. What led you into a writing/editing career and how has it molded you and your faith? I am an accidental journalist. That is, I never studied it in college nor did I have journalistic…

Lord, Bless That Person I Hate So Much

My car is almost twenty years old and the CD player no longer works, so while driving alone my only options are the radio or silent prayerfulness. I’d love to say that as I dashed out to run errands this week I piously communed with God or said my Rosary but I’ll tell the truth: I turned on the radio. This is always an exercise in futility, because I am becoming old. The newer music mostly makes me want to chase everybody off my lawn, and the older music is basically Hotel California and Night Moves played on seemingly endless “classic rock” loops. So when I drive, I’m basically one-hand on the steering wheel, the other click-click-clicking through the stations trying to find anything that will keep me amused for three minutes. Because, thanks to social media, that’s all the attention span I have anymore. Now, perhaps this has been true…

Kanye’s Theological Argument with His Catholic Friend

Could Kanye West become a Catholic? That possibility, which I posed in May of 2018 after a particular video surfaced on Kanye’s computer, sounds less and less unthinkable as time goes on. In 2019, Kanye announced his conversion to Christianity and released the film and album Jesus Is King with his “Sunday Service” choir. (His wife, Kim, and their children were also baptized into the Armenian Orthodox church.) Earlier this year, he released a raw new track and video titled “Wash Us in the Blood” with a more social and sacramental vision of faith and culture. And, more recently, his presidential campaign page includes not one but two prominent nods to Catholicism: an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the tag-line “Creating a Culture of Life”—a phrase coined by Pope St. John Paul II. No doubt, the rich artistic and philosophical matrix…

Four (More) Reasons I Love Being a Dad

Six years ago, I wrote a piece on the four reasons I love being a dad. A lot has changed in the past six years; a new job, two relocations, a master’s degree, starting a PhD, and on top of that, adding two more children to the Zimmerer clan! Looking back caused me to consider whether my feelings had changed or transformed in some way. In that piece I mention the beauty of living in an imaginary world of innocence that little children provide their parents, the sense of nobility that being someone dependable brought me, the paradoxical freedom of living for others, and the challenging ways that kids help their fathers discover their own ability to lead. After six years, I would proudly say that those reasons still hold true; they’ve just deepened since the day I wrote them. The culture still seems to view fatherhood as some…

You’re Meant to Be an Eagle, Not a Chicken: A Reflection on Baptism

When I was doing full-time parish ministry, one of my favorite activities was performing Baptisms. I put the word in the plural, for I hardly ever baptized one baby at a time, but usually ten or a dozen. Typically, the quite large group of family and friends would gather in the first several pews of St. Paul of the Cross Church about 2 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, I would welcome them and do a very short description of what was about to happen, and then the happy cacophony of twelve babies crying at once would inevitably commence. I would shout my way through the prayers and the Baptisms—and a general joyfulness would obtain. Now that I’m a bishop, I have less occasion to baptize, and I do miss it. But an exception took place last week when I was delighted to welcome into the Church Hazel Rose Cummins, the…