Has God Changed for You?

Last week I introduced the most recent Catechism of the Catholic Church and pointed out the “definition” of God as being everlasting truth and love. A God of truth and love is nothing like the hard-nosed punisher-God of my youth, so I looked into the history of Catholic notions of God.

Vatican II (the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church, held in four sessions between 1962 and 1965) marks the beginning of a new understanding of God. For hundreds of years before Vatican II, an old God of power and mystery dominated Catholic teaching. Then in the decades after Vatican II, God emerged gradually as a warmer, more reachable deity, coming into an integrated theology in the 1994 catechism. The change is important and as best I can tell, largely underappreciated.  Continue reading

Have You Seen God Lately?

People often grow more spiritual as they move through later life, and especially for men, that growth can be halting, timid, and incomplete.

People enter Twelve-Step programs to rid themselves of addictions, and central to the method is acknowledgement of a “higher power,” which may be God for the religious, but may be something else, something people choose or define for themselves. Continue reading

Can We Read Our Way to Redemption?

Our class

A varying bunch of us seniors have been studying literature together for two years. Our class is part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Georgia, which offers classes, clubs and social events for mature adults.

We just read A Good Man Is Hard to Find, a short story by Flannery O’Connor, first published in 1953 when she was 28 years old, then again in a book of the same name in 1955.

The story involves a deadly confrontation in rural Georgia between a criminal, The Misfit, and a family heading to vacation in Florida. The final scene portends Christian salvation juxtaposed with violence and death, and redemption occurs in so ordinary a way as to invite us to reflect on our own prospects.

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Loss and Resilience in Alabama: A Photo Essay on the Tornadoes of 2011


This gallery contains 25 photos.

The spring of 2011 brought violent storms to middle America, and some of the fiercest moved through Alabama on April 27. An EF-4 storm cut a swath from Tuscaloosa through parts of Birmingham, killing about 60 people, and an EF-5 … Continue reading

Lessons for Later Life from Madame Bovary

Courtesy of Jerry Murbach, doctormacro.com

Good literature draws us near and shines imagined light on hidden corners of our common nature. In retirement we have time to occasionally relax with a good book and examine some of our own unlighted places.

One appealing aspect of course is that most dedicated reading occurs in a favorite chair, and who is to know if a reader sometimes dozes off? That’s part of retirement too.

I recently read Madame Bovary, written by Gustave Flaubert and published in mid-nineteenth century France. The book is often on lists of great novels, and it concerns a theme that is always in fashion—adultery in marriage. At the same time, it goes deeper than adultery and treats aspects of human nature that bear heavily on today’s world. Continue reading