Author: Nathan Turowsky

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Gnosticism: When Is a Mystery Not a Mystery?

In my last essay, I took aim at Pelagianism, a heresy from Late Antiquity, which Pope Francis has frequently targeted in its perceived modern forms in his teaching. In this essay I will discuss Gnosticism, the other major heresy whose...

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Pelagianism: A Heresy for All Seasons

In the late fourth and early fifth centuries AD, a monk and theologian known to history as Pelagius advanced a novel understanding of the relationship between free will and grace. Pelagius, who hailed from somewhere in the British Isles and...

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Loneliness Today, Part IX: Conclusion

So far in the “Loneliness Today” series we’ve had eight installments looking at different facets of the phenomena of loneliness and social isolation in the Church and the world today: The youth encounter in Tokyo last fall Loneliness among the...

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The Mad World of Conspiracy-Theory Catholicism

The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he...

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Loneliness Today, Part VIII: Loneliness and Solitude

The previous installment of “Loneliness Today” touched on the potential spiritually beneficial aspects of loneliness. It discussed the literary or symbolic place (topos) of the “desert” and cited Simone Weil’s controversial assertion that Christianity seeks a supernatural use for suffering...

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Realities Are More Important Than Ideas

There is a possibly apocryphal, but persistent, story that when Galileo was forced to recant his position on heliocentrism and a rotating Earth, he left the room muttering “and yet, it moves!” Questions of historicity aside, the meaning of the...

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Loneliness Today, Part VII: Going into the Desert

Initially, this installment of “Loneliness Today” was going to be about either the loneliness faced by parish priests (who, in the age of COVID-19, I’m sure miss public celebrations of the Mass just as much as we do) or the...

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“On the occasion of the current world epidemic”

On March 20, the Holy See Press Office announced that the Apostolic Penitentiary had established a series of plenary indulgences during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. These indulgences include: Plenary indulgences for COVID-19 patients who watch Mass online during the ongoing...

Loneliness Today, Part VI: The Spring of Social Distancing

I didn’t originally plan to write about the phenomenon of social distancing in this series; indeed, I wasn’t even aware that the term existed when I began writing these essays about loneliness. However, three months into the “Loneliness Today” series,...

Loneliness Today, Part V: The Uncoupled

When Pope Francis promulgated the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia in 2016, much of its teaching was widely ignored in favor of what would become years of arguing over a single footnote that potentially opens the sacraments to some Catholics who...

On the CNA/Martin Affair

On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, JD Flynn wrote an essay in First Things arguing that Father James Martin, an American Jesuit known for his ministry and pastoral outreach to the LGBT community, presents “a vision of the human person at...

Loneliness Today, Part IV: The Invitation to the Feast

In this installment of the “Loneliness Today” series, I would like to talk about loneliness among disabled people.[1] This is a topic that a few regular commenters have brought up in the comment sections on previous essays in this series;...

10 Essential Quotes from Querida Amazonia

1. The title “Querida Amazonia” is Portuguese / Spanish for “Dear Amazon”–as in somebody’s female beloved, or the salutation of a letter. Oftentimes (not always), a papal document with a title in a vernacular language is meant to speak to...

The Pandora’s Box of Catholic Antisemitism

My great-grandfather, Pawel Turowsky, came to the United States from the Russian Empire in 1907. Two years before, the failed Russian Revolution of 1905—harbinger of the successful Revolution twelve years later—had been brutally crushed by the Tsar’s forces. A wave...

Loneliness Today, Part III: The Loneliness of the Old

The 1970s country-western song “Pancho and Lefty” was written by Townes Van Zandt, and is most famous in the form of a cover by Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. (For what it’s worth, I personally prefer the Van Zandt original,...

Son of Legendary Catholic Author Dies at 95

January 16 brought the news that Christopher Tolkien, best known as the longtime literary executor of his father J.R.R. Tolkien, had died at his home in the South of France at the age of 95. Tolkien was born in 1924...

It’s Japanese.

I’ve watched the video of Pope Francis slapping–in something of the manner of a YMCA self-defense class; his movements are a standard way in martial arts to break an unwanted grip on one’s arm–a young Asian woman in St. Peter’s...

Loneliness Today, Part II: Youth Un(der)employment

I work as a substitute teacher at a public school district in Western Massachusetts. It’s one of the more cash-strapped districts in a relatively affluent rural area in the Northeast. In this position, I have had the responsibility to, on...

Bishop James Conley Takes Medical Leave of Absence

Today has brought the news that James D. Conley, Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska and successor of the archconservative stalwart Fabian Bruskewitz in that diocese, has taken an indefinite leave of absence from his ministerial duties, due to serious mental health...

Loneliness Today, Part I: More on the Youth Encounter

This is the first in a projected series of essays dealing with the phenomenon of “loneliness,” beginning with a discussion of the loneliness described to Pope Francis in the “youth encounter” in Tokyo, and moving from there into a broader...

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