Bishop Robert Barron

Bishop Robert Barron

Bishop Robert Barron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Contact him at www.wordonfire.org.

Website URL: http://www.wordonfire.org

Seeing abortion

We stand at a pivotal point in the great moral debate over abortion in our country — not because new arguments have emerged, but rather because laws so breathtaking in their barbarism have been passed, and a film so visceral in its presentation of the reality of abortion has found a wide audience. As John Henry Newman reminded us, assent to a proposition is rarely a matter of acquiescing to rational demonstration alone; instead, it often has to do with the accumulation of argument, image, impression, experience, and witness.

Frank Gehry and the quest for transcendence

Though I reside in Santa Barbara, I am in Los Angeles a good deal for meetings and other events. When I’m in the city, I like to walk the downtown neighborhood. My favorite building to look at while I’m on these strolls is the Walt Disney Concert Hall, home base of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the creation of Frank Gehry, probably the best-known architect in the world. Like many of Gehry’s other buildings, the Disney is marked by shimmering metallic surfaces, curving planes, and an overall playfulness of design. Some have suggested that the theater’s exterior looks like the pages of a score that have just fallen from the conductor’s podium. That it is a captivating work of art is testified to by the crowds that regularly gather round it to gaze and to take photographs. Soon after I arrived in the L.A. Archdiocese, I heard that Gehry was actually one of the finalists in the competition to design the new cathedral here. To say the very least, it would have been interesting to see what he would have done with that assignment. 

The internet and Satan’s game

By now the entire country has seen a video of a supposedly racist confrontation, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, between a grinning young high school student and a Native American elder, chanting and beating a drum. The immediate and ferocious judgment of the internet community was that the boy was effectively taunting and belittling the elder, but subsequent videos from wider angles as well as the young man’s own testimony have cast considerable doubt on this original assessment. My purpose in this article is not to adjudicate the situation, which remains, at best, ambiguous, even in regard to the basic facts. It is to comment, rather, on the morally outrageous and deeply troubling nature of the response to this occurrence, one that I would characterize as, quite literally, Satanic.

Spinoza, secularism and the challenge of evangelization

During this Christmas holiday, I’ve been reading Anthony Gottlieb’s breezy and enjoyable history of modern philosophy, entitled The Dream of Enlightenment. Throughout his treatment of such figures as Descartes, Hobbes, Locke and Voltaire, Gottlieb reveals his own rather strong bias in favor of the rationalism and anti-supernaturalism advocated by these avatars of modern thought. Toward the end of his chapter on Spinoza, Gottlieb avers that what he calls “the religion of Spinozism” is more or less identical to the secularist worldview espoused by so many in the West today, including himself.