MIDNIGHT MASS reviewed by Lydia Bringerud

Midnight_Mass_PosterMost who know me know that I am averse to haunted houses and anything with jump scares. It might come as a surprise that I got into the Netflix series Midnight Mass, a limited, seven-episode series by Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Bly Manor, The Haunting of Hill House) that is billed as both drama and supernatural horror. The script, in my opinion, is excellent, although I can certainly understand if it is not everyone’s cup of tea. For the record, though, I believe that the bulk of its horror is psychological, and when blood is shed, it is typically in very low lighting, making the gore minimal. It reminded me by turns of The Crucible by Arthur Miller, the magic realism of Gabriel García Marquez, the play/film Doubt, a smidge of Perelandra by C.S. Lewis, and a Hitchcockian thriller. But above all, I found the series to be a deeply philosophical, elegant meditation on the nature of faith, certainty, and how we meet our earthly end. Some excellent reviews (which contain spoilers) have already been written of the show, but I am going to do my very best to keep this spoiler-free.

Generally, the series concerns an isolated island community off the coast of New England. The island is predominantly Catholic with the exception of its sheriff, who is Muslim. That alone sets up some tension and human interest in the inner workings of this society. The central plot concerns a new priest who comes to take over the island’s only church after its former priest takes a trip to the Holy Land and mysteriously does not return. Read More


The following report appeared earlier today at RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Εἰς πολλὰ ἔτη, Δέσποτα!

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Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, said he was satisfied with his meeting with Joe Biden on October 25, praising the U.S. president as a “man of faith, and man of vision.”

Bartholomew, 81, met with Biden at the White House after resuming his scheduled visit following an overnight stay in a Washington hospital.

“We cannot allow any short-sighted political agendas to interfere with our relationships, that are through, and in Christ Jesus, the Lord and Savior of the world,” Bartholomew said after his visit with Biden.

Bartholomew visited the White House after being released from George Washington University Hospital, where he had been admitted on October 24 after he felt “unwell” due to the long flight the previous day and the busy schedule of events upon arrival, according to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Read More


9780367243944_cover.inddI am not a theologian but a philosopher, and a philosopher is a kind of professional doubter. As a Christian believer who is also engaged in systematic, meticulous, even obsessive doubt, the question of the foundations of Christian belief has always been very important to me. I don’t here mean the question of which are the most basic or foundational beliefs of Christianity, nor do I mean a kind of proof of Christianity that will persuade the skeptic, nor again do I mean that process whereby God creates Christian faith within us. What I mean is: when Christian belief is called in question, what intellectual or evidential basis can I find for it, that might provide a reason to go on believing?

My forthcoming debate with Graham Oppy on the existence of God—Is There a God? A Debate—provided me with an opportunity to spell out my (current) answer to this question. One of the concerns I had there is: How do philosophical arguments about the existence and nature of God relate to the Church’s experience of God? Can the two be put together in support of Christian belief? In the debating context, I was of course also concerned with the further question of whether any of this might contribute to convincing the atheist. But to me the more interesting and important question has always been about the structure of my own belief system, and whether it stands up to scrutiny. Philosophy, as I see it, is about helping one another scrutinize, revise, and improve our views of the world. Read More

A JOINT MESSAGE FOR THE PROTECTION OF CREATION by Patriarch Bartholomew, Pope Francis, and Archbishop Justin

This statement appeared on September 1 on the Vatican website.

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(L to R) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Pope Francis of Rome, Archbishop Justin of Canterbury

For more than a year, we have all experienced the devastating effects of a global pandemic—all of us, whether poor or wealthy, weak or strong. Some were more protected or vulnerable than others, but the rapidly-spreading infection meant that we have depended on each other in our efforts to stay safe. We realised that, in facing this worldwide calamity, no one is safe until everyone is safe, that our actions really do affect one another, and that what we do today affects what happens tomorrow.

These are not new lessons, but we have had to face them anew. May we not waste this moment. We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations. God mandates: ‘Choose life, so that you and your children might live’ (Dt 30:19). We must choose to live differently; we must choose life. Read More