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Devra Torres

Who Are We to Judge?

Apr. 24 at 7:19pm

Things are not always what they seem.  And the actions of human persons, perceived from the outside, can be farthest of all from appearances.

One day long ago I was reading from the Book of Genesis to my four-year-old, who occasionally had trouble getting along with her little brother.  When we got to the part where “Cain rose up and slew his brother Abel,” I stopped and elaborated.  “He killed his own brother!”  I explained, suspecting that “slew” might be pushing the limits of her vocabulary.

My daughter looked properly shocked.  “I would never kill my brother,” she declared (to my secret relief).  But then she continued: “…because I don’t know how to kill people!”

They get along fine

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Devra Torres

Everybody’s a Critic

Apr. 5 at 5:41pm

I haven’t seen God Is Not Dead, The Son of God, or even Frozen.  I did just see Noah, but don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about it--or, if I find I can’t help myself, I will try very, very hard to say something new.

I cringe as heartily as anybody at the spectacle of Christians trying too hard to like cheesy movies because they’re wholesome, or to dislike wholesome movies because they’re cheesy.  I hate to see us laboring to unearth a godless message where there isn’t one, or to explain away a godless message where there is.

I’m entirely sympathetic to Flannery O’Connor’s point about religious art:

The sorry religious novel comes about when the writer supposes that because of his

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Devra Torres

Evangelizing the Complacent

Dec. 22, 2013, at 2:14am

Scarcely had I waded past the first paragraph of Evangelii Gaudium when I came across a very odd sentence.

It wasn’t about trickle-down economics, and it wasn’t about the salvation of atheists (although I just heard a good line about that: the question is not so much whether those who reject the Gospel can be saved, but whether we can be saved if we don’t preach it). 

No, this was not about the usual bones of contention.  The odd sentence was this:

The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.

Wait, what?  How can you be

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Devra Torres

Towards a Spirituality of Unknown Variables

Oct. 1, 2013, at 8:22pm

A few days ago, this improvised prayer was going around facebook (where I do much of my philosophical research):

Heavenly Father, Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children. …

Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow[ly] through the store aisles and blocking our shopping

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Devra Torres

Papa Francisco

Mar. 14, 2013, at 4:04pm

Habemus Papam!

He’s a conservative, but a Jesuit who has compassion on single mothers, and kisses the feet of AIDS patients.

 No, wait, he’s a liberal, but he says the idea of “gay marriage” is “a machination of the Father of Lies” and outspokenly defends the right to life even of babies conceived in rape. 

Well, but he’s a conservative—but the son of an immigrant railway worker who eschews the episcopal palace for a small apartment, rides the bus,

and cooks his own meals. 

Or maybe he’s a liberal—but he puts a premium on doctrinal orthodoxy.  And a 76-year-old man with a single lung who radiates peace and strength.

Oh, never mind.

We all understand that the labels “conservative” and

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Devra Torres

Fair Game: Enlarging your Religious Compartment

Dec. 1, 2012, at 9:02pm

As I’ve mentioned, I used to have a peculiar understanding of spontaneity.

It was a Good Thing.  Period.

I did allow that even someone as charmingly whimsical as myself needed to be predictable and systematic sometimes.  Teeth had to be brushed.  Sunday Mass couldn’t be neglected.  I didn’t want to end up toothless or damned, 

so I was willing to attend to a few select things on schedule whether the mood struck me or no. 

But if I was sloppy and incompetent about the other 99% of life, well, that was a lot more appealing than becoming one of those intimidating people who march through life in a haze of grim perfectionism.  (I thought of an acquaintance who was raising a well-mannered

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Devra Torres

C. S. Lewis on Forgiveness

Aug. 1, 2012, at 5:48pm

This is a spinoff.

This is only a spinoff.

In other words, I have no intention of addressing the 144,000 points or so made about forgiveness (legitimate, premature, unprincipled, or dysfunctional, with or without justice and reconciliation) in recent posts and comments. (I strongly recommend reading through them, though, if you haven’t yet—much food for thought).

What I would like to do is allow C. S. Lewis to weigh in on the subject.   Forgiveness is right up there with humility as a contender for Most Misunderstood Christian Virtue.  And it’s painfully relevant: it comes up all the time in the life of anyone tempted to think of himself, as we probably all do sometimes, as Surrounded By

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