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Devra Torres

The Trouble with Hagiography

Sep. 20 at 12:49pm

The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God is a book that was on my meaning-to-read list for months. I’m only partway through the introduction, but already there's a lot to like.

The book is a collection of letters from Ruth Pakaluk, a woman I knew slightly when we lived in New England. In fact, we were sent to visit Ruth and her husband right after our marriage by a priest friend who thought it would be good for us to see everyday matrimony in action—a kind of belated marriage-prep field trip.

Ruth was an atheist girl who went to Harvard, converted to Christianity, got married (her husband Michael put the book together), bore seven children, and then died of cancer at the age of 41.

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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

Kicking the Anasthesia Habit

Jul. 11, 2013, at 3:36pm

Something I constantly notice is that unembarrassed joy has become rarer.  Joy today is increasingly saddled with moral and ideological burdens, so to speak.  When someone rejoices, he is afraid of offending against solidarity with the many people who suffer.  I don’t have any right to rejoice, people think, in a world where there is so much misery, so much injustice.

I can understand that.  There is a moral attitude at work here.  But … the loss of joy does not make the world better—and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer. The contrary is true.  The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the impetus

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Devra Torres

From Pawns to Battering Rams, or What Are the Laypeople For?

Jan. 14, 2013, at 2:58pm

[Laypeople] should not be regarded as “collaborators” of the clergy, but, rather, as people who are really “co-responsible” for the Church’s being and acting. It is therefore important that a mature and committed laity be consolidated, which can make its own specific contribution to the ecclesial mission...

Pope Benedict spoke these words last August--but any Pope speaks so very many words that some of them invariably get lost in the shuffle.  Happily, Al Kresta recalled this passage to us at a recent conference called “Catholic Witness in a Nation Divided.”

I have seldom heard so many meaty, substantial, satisfying talks in one place, or been part of a more deeply engaged audience. 

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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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