SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
David Mills

May 31, 2021
C.S. Lewis said that Christianity didn't make him happy — not as happy as did a bottle of port. It's a great meme — because it reminds us we're mediocrities and most Christians actually want to hear that.
May 16, 2021
An elderly French peasant couple, June 1915. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)   Catholic priests and theologians don’t always seem to understand sex. Many years ago, as a new Catholic, I was talking with a priest about the Catholic understanding of marriage. The crucial thing, he said, was that the husband finished in
April 15, 2021
When Catholics lie to advance the cause, the world learns. A few nights ago I happened to come across two old Facebook discussions, one about sentimentality and the other about journalism. Both produced many comments of the “Why are you so critical, this was a nice story, and we need nice stories” and “The stories
April 09, 2021
It was a friendly letter, gently written, but made a claim that always makes me grind my teeth. The writer had come across an old article of ours that called Menno Simmons, founder of the Mennonites, a heretic. A Mennonite herself, she objected. On Sunday, she’d heard a young man teaching Sunday school attack the
March 30, 2021
One never escaped crushing depression, though he was a master at looking cheerful in public. Another felt the same crushing depression but could not hide it, and most people thought him self-centered. A third had a relentlessly promiscuous wife, who was very discreet, and friends always told him how lucky he was to have her.
February 19, 2021
A Protestant pastor among my Facebook friends said he didn’t want to hear what anyone else was giving up for Lent. He was all for observing Lent, but he asked if people had forgotten Matthew 6. That’s the chapter in which Jesus tells people to act as if they weren’t fasting when they were. The
January 10, 2021
“We need to pray for our nation. We are in trouble,” Franklin Graham said in a Facebook post on Wednesday, posted before a mob encouraged by the president he has so faithfully served stormed the U.S. Capitol. “God’s judgment is coming, for the sins of our nation are great and they are a stench in
January 03, 2021
The minor pro-life leader John Rankin, who died on Christmas day, had a romantic idea of witness, but a more realistic and wiser view of politics than the mainstream leadership.  Someone you never heard of died on Christmas day. John Rankin was a pro-life leader deeply loved by the people who knew him, but one
December 23, 2020
Francis Cardinal Spellman made visiting the troops in the far east a Christmas tradition, but in 1966 he added to his work his endorsement of America’s goals in Vietnam, calling for “total victory.” Dorothy Day said he had dishonored God in denying the unity of man and the command to love one another. Christmas calls
November 21, 2020
She’s not truly pro-life. And she’s a bad Catholic to boot, and by her own standards. So say her critics. Several Facebook friends and others jumped on new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s joining the majority of the court in lifting a stay of execution for Orlando Hall. He’d been sentenced to death in
November 02, 2020
David Mills remembers Anne Barbeau Gardiner, an accomplished scholar and his old friend, “a person who was completely herself.”  “I bet you didn’t expect me to look so frumpy,” she said when we first met, and laughed, loudly and disconcertingly. I had been thinking that her dress seemed to be made out of drape material.
October 21, 2020
Some guys tried to rob five 7/11s near her house, reports my friend and Chapter House colleague Leticia Ochoa Adams. Apparently not competently, since they ran away twice before getting anything. My question is: How do we know this wasn’t Leticia dealing with deadlines? “I was looking for inspiration,” Leticia said. She shrugged only her
April 22, 2021
People who you'd expect to be anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers turn out to be strongly pro-mask and vaccine — because they care for someone vulnerable. It's a teachable moment for them, but only if they see how their experience changes their politics.
April 06, 2021
The Guardian's John Harris has no religion and regrets the loss of fellowship and shared meaning that religion provides the religious. His answer will not provide them. Only religion can do that.
March 22, 2021
Some Catholics hate Lent, loathe Lent, because it was taught to them as a reason to hate themselves for being so bad.
March 03, 2021
Sometimes we need to speak ill of the dead. We may need to speak critically when the dead is a public figure whose memory his ideological allies use to promote their cause. When political people memorialize him in a way that establishes their favored political narrative. We must criticize to try to establish the truth. And as Catholics, we should be critical for another reason.
February 16, 2021
Ravi Zacharias, who died in May of last year, was American Evangelicalism’s superstar apologist. The movement’s flagship magazine, Christianity Today, headlined their recent report on him, “Ravi Zacharias Hid Hundreds of Pictures of Women, Abuse During Massages, and a Rape Allegation.” The story is worse than that. Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore called it “a pattern
January 28, 2021
These people cheat. They don't want to argue with you, so they make you out to be the bad guy. They do it in two different but very common ways, both of which I experienced in this discussion. Almost anyone who argues a position will have suffered them too.
January 23, 2021
It’s the ecumenical dog that doesn’t bark. We need him to bark, but he rarely does, and then he's quickly shushed. It’s the matter of conversion. When we pray for Christian unity, as we do this week, we pray not only for kindness and fellow-feeling and some very foggy idea of joining together in the future, after a gradual convergence somewhere in the middle. We pray for our separated brethren to give in.
December 21, 2020
She had her left leg on one of those little scooters people use when they’ve broken an ankle. She’d asked the clerk at St. Vincent de Paul to take a drip coffee maker out of the box. It was new, still in the wrapping, and cost about $2.00, maybe $3.00. Everything’s sold as is and
May 18, 2020
In this health emergency, every response has a downside: the only certainty is the human cost of what we do, or don’t.
April 02, 2020
You drive up the hill, through the narrow streets and short blocks of a typical working-class neighbourhood in an old eastern city. At the top, backed up against the ridge, sits a grey stone church that boasts more relics than any church outside the Vatican: some 5,000 of them, all told. A wealthy Belgian doctor,
June 16, 2016
The Index of Prohibited Books has a bad reputation today. But even 21st-century secularists suppress ideas they consider dangerous
June 16, 2016
It’s like the movement against smoking. The authorities decide that they must keep people from smoking for their own good. Many would ban it if they could, but they can’t, so they require scary warnings on packages, don’t let anyone smoke in public places, prevent sales to minors, restrict advertising and raise the price with