How to pray prayers that definitely don't work

For Christians, prayer is an answer to virtually every possible question—right up there with Jesus and the Bible. (And Apostolic Tradition, of course, for those of us who have unchecked the "Protestant Reformation" box on our heavenly applications.) It’s almost as if the little prayer hands emoji was created just for us so we can let each other know we’re praying for each other without actually using words, which is just so deep.

Two words that can get you out of that funk

This may come as a surprise, but having a good attitude does not always come naturally to me. In fact, there are days when—if I got there—it probably took a some work.

Sure, the Sun is always shining! I know that! But when I look around and see a world full of injustice, corruption, confusion, melting ice caps, and dying coral reefs, I tend feel the weight of these things a little more than any excitement over the Sun (which, they say, may actually burn us all up in a few years or so, according to the internet).

Can we really love Jesus AND hate religion?

The word religion has been getting a pretty bad rap these days, often taking blame for most of society’s major problems. As a result, there are many well-meaning Christians trying to rebrand the faith by disassociating from that term altogether. You'll hear them say things like, “I love Jesus, but I hate religion.” Or “Christianity is not a religion; it’s a relationship.”

I wish I knew this when I first met Jesus

Eventually, most of us have to become very intentional about not taking Jesus’ love for granted. But this is not so in the beginning! When we first encounter that amazing grace, Jesus starts messing with everything that messes with us, and we are easily beside ourselves with gratitude and awe. I can remember a time when a simple bumper sticker that said, “Jesus loves you!” could make my heart leak out of my eyes. And I recall the bliss of singing a praise song and actually meaning it for the first time.

Cake and the meaning of all existence

I’ve always had my impressions of what "Mr. Mastodon Farm" means, but recently got curious about whether or not my understanding was along the same lines of what the artist intended the song to be about. So, we're now 23 years out from the song’s release, and I just recently googled the it’s meaning.

That time I accidentally joined a New Age cult (and what I learned from the experience)

A few years ago, when I first wrote the summary of how I became Catholic, I conveniently evaded a certain portion of the tale by saying that I would “save it for the book." I wasn’t seriously planning on writing a book at that point. There were just some things I wasn’t ready to talk about yet—still too fresh and, frankly, embarrassing. But I always knew I’d have to talk about it eventually. And recently, something I saw on Facebook reminded me that I left it out, and inspired me to go ahead and add that chapter.

Who are the REAL Christian Americans?

The thing about words is that we have to agree on what they mean in order for them to work properly. On several occasions, I’ve gotten myself into trouble on social media simply by misunderstanding what people have meant by using the word Christian in their statements. My mistake has been in assuming that others have meant the same thing I would mean were I the one using that word. But I've since learned how to avoid these misunderstandings, and navigate these conversations more peacefully.

Do we really need priests? (A response to Carl Lentz)

When this Relevant Magazine article showed up in my Facebook news feed with the headline, Carl Lentz to Oprah: 'That’s Why Jesus Came, So You Didn’t Need a Priest in the Middle', I couldn’t help but click on it, watch the videos and read some of the subsequent comments. What I mostly took away from it was a reminder that while I’ve been on this journey of discovering the beautiful relationship with God and His Church known as authentic Catholicism, there are still so many others walking around, continuing to hold and perpetuate gross misconceptions of what the Catholic Christian faith is. So instinctively, I wish to clarify some things here.  

How to avoid what researchers call 'Unethical Amnesia'

For me, science has never explained God away so much as caused me to be more impressed with Him. If anything, the intricacies of nature actually strengthen my faith. I appreciate the thought that science asks the question, “What?” While religion asks, “Why?” Both questions are aimed at discovering truth, and the deepest truths they find will compliment each other, because they come from the same source.

 

What became of the 90's Christian ska kids?

As a teenager in the 90’s, pretty much everything I initially needed to know about worshiping Jesus, I learned from Christian Ska music.

Before that, I had spent much of my free time videotaping popular music videos from MTV onto VHS so I could watch them whenever I wanted. (I realize that sentence just made absolutely no sense to younger readers... Let's just move on.)

Trump vs. Hillary: Who has already lost?

Little known fact about myself: I am an experienced politician. Indeed, I have both run for and held an elected office... Not because I deserved it, mind you, but because there was a time in high school when I was one of the cool kids. You know, back when I was a cheerleader who partied a lot, and talked trash about everyone—right before I became a loser (read: Jesus Freak).

Why no one names their kid 'Hananiah'

In my memory, being a Postmodern Evangelical Christian was both liberating and exhausting at the same time. There was this freedom to be open to new ideas (which, ironically, were mostly ancient ideas being rediscovered), and at the same time, there was this necessity to weigh every option of theology, spirituality, eschatology, morality—concepts mulled over for centuries by minds far more brilliant than my own—and decide for myself which understandings are best. (Kudos to those still making a go at that. You're like the wrestler I never was.)

What I learn from Xavier

I remember talking with my friend, Amber, about her son Xavier several years ago. She was stressed, because he kept randomly shrieking during Sunday Mass, and she didn’t know what to do about it. She was concerned that the jarring noise frustrated other people, so I told her, “Amber, if Xavier is being noisy, and we can’t handle it, that’s our bad, not yours.”

American Racism: perspective from a very minor minority

Back in elementary school, when we first began learning about America's history of racism, I remember our teacher talking about segregation with its water fountains for white people only, and its water fountains for colored people only. And there I was, the olive-skinned child of a white father, and Filipino mother, trying to find myself in the story along with the rest of my peers. So at one point, I raised my hand and asked, “Which water fountain would I drink from?”