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Devra Torres

Modesty and Other Skirmishes: Reassessing the Battle Lines

Jul. 3 at 11:59pm

Last week, we took a look at the modesty wars. We identified a false alternative: either you fall into indifferentism on the subject or you’re obliged to go around trying (vainly and illicitly) to probe the intentions of other people’s hearts. There's got to be a better way.

And there is. Katie and others have been urging that we take seriously the harm done by a fixation on externals, a tendency to see a woman as less a person than an occasion of sin. To rebel against this isn’t a flight into over-abstraction.  Nor is it tantamount to “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”  How to strike the right balance in everyday decisions is still under discussion, especially among those of us raising

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Devra Torres

Merry Christmas, You Miserable Pagan!

Dec. 5, 2013, at 6:00pm

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Time to gear up for the War Against the War Against Christmas (WAWAC).

Or...maybe not.

This is not a condemnation of the good work that many Christians are doing to remind the world at large what Christmas was supposed to be about.  The world could clearly use a reminder. 

Nor is it a call to evacuate the public square.  By all means, resist the mindset that contemplates the birth of the Word Incarnate—come down out of sheer love to rescue us from misery—and says, “Let’s see, how can we guarantee maximum mammon for ourselves with minimum mention of Him?”

(After all, as I explain it to my five-year-old: What if somebody wanted to celebrate your

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Devra Torres

The Self-Referential Person: What I Didn’t Mean

Jun. 24, 2013, at 11:55pm

Today’s topic is one that’s very close to my heart, and one on which I used to consider myself an expert. 

Last week, inveighing against the “self-referential person,” I wrote this:

It’s a bunker mentality, and it has a certain appeal to, say, apprehensive parents looking out upon a landscape of reckless hedonists, regulation-happy collectivists, self-absorbed politicians, clueless relativists, resolute terrorists, and useful idiots.  They figure their best shot at survival is to ghettoize themselves and their dependents as thoroughly as possible and try to avoid contagion.

The only trouble is, this contradicts the essence of the Church.

Katie responded:

I am sometimes actually

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Devra Torres

Back and Forth

Nov. 18, 2012, at 4:38pm

“We are here to serve others,” the apocryphal mother explains.

“Well, then,” responds the little apocryphal boy, “What are the others here for?” 

*  *  *  *

No wonder he’s confused.  Which are we supposed to be, self-centered or other-centered?

Well, you might say--both.

When you read the Bible, you keep running into principles like

and

“With what measure you measure, it will be measured to you” 

and, of course,

There’s a common thread here: they keep on drawing you not simply towards others, but back and forth from your own desires, obligations and actions to everybody else’s.  They keep reminding you to acknowledge the personhood, the interiority, the subjectivity, of both the

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Devra Torres

Three Hopeful Consequences of an Awful Election

Nov. 10, 2012, at 8:47am

(in keeping with my role as Pollyanna in Chief)

First: It turns out it wasn’t just me!  I woke up the morning of November 7th with a highly unusual urge to set things in order.  I cleaned a closet and a bathroom before breakfast.  No, really—you can look it up on Snopes.  And it turned out this was no isolated phenomenon.  My sister Abby described Wednesday morning at her house:

We cleaned everything. We soaked the stove knobs in ammonia. We cleaned the dried milk drops off the hutch. We cleaned UNDER the microwave and all the couches. We used up the ammonia and the bleach (but not at the same time). We cleared surfaces of objects that had been invisible before the election…

My other

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