Magazines, Newspapers, and other Ephemeral Print
I write for a lot of different magazines, both serious and silly. Here are some sample pieces I have written for their pages.
Our Sunday Visitor is a fine weekly Catholic newspaper that has published oodles of my stuff, including a lot of Scripture meditations on the weekly readings. Once example is:
The Ambition of the Sons of Thunder
Leonardo da Vinci did us a disservice when he painted St. John in his Last Supper. In his zeal to show St. John as especially close to the loving heart of Christ, Leonardo winds up portraying the Evangelist like a wan and wilting flower. Yet Jesus nicknamed John and his brother James "Boanerges" or the "Sons of Thunder." Zebedee's boys were, we should recall, rough cut from solid peasant fisherman stock. They knew all about sweating in the sun, fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and cussing out people in no uncertain terms. In fact, the gospels actually record an incident in which these young turks, miffed at the crummy hospitality they received from the Samaritans, wanted to call down fire from heaven in retaliation (Luke 9:52-55). Such peasant bluntness also shows itself in John's amazing directness with his Master. For though John loved Jesus (and Jesus loved him as his Beloved Disciple) that did not mean he was bashful or afraid to ask for exactly what he wanted. (To see the rest of the article, go here.)
The Door is "the world's pretty much only religious satire magazine". They publish weird stuff I write that nobody else will. Once such bit of weird stuff is...
is the Serious Business of Heaven:
New Horizons in Conspiracy Cinema
One of the many advantages Christians have over those who live in the world is the range to which we can extend our angst. Secularists, forced by their own principles to live in a one-floor ranch style universe, inevitably wind up wasting time on neuroses which are small beer in the Grand Scheme of Things. That's why a secular media is unable to conceive of any higher conspiracy than the hackneyed "Who Killed JFK?" question.
But suppose Oliver Stone was a good Fundamentalist filmmaker with a truly cosmic conspiratorial perspective. Then we might be reading film reviews like this: (To see the rest of the article, go here.)
Catholic Answers Magazine is Catholic Answers' fine little journal of evangelization and apologetics. I've written a bunch of stuff for them over the years. One piece that generated a fair amount of controversy is:
Brother Darwin's Gospel Hour
One of the peculiar ironies I have noticed over the years has been the divergent ways in which the notions of evolution have, er, evolved in the minds of Catholics and some of the more anti-Catholic folks among our Fundamentalist brothers. One of the distinctions between Catholics and Bible Christians is that Catholic theology has never especially demanded a literalistic interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 and is therefore not particularly shaken by evolutionary theory or the discovery of the immense age of the earth. (To see the rest of the article, go here.)
Envoy is a sassy, classy lookin' mag from the droll and witty Patrick Madrid. A while back, I wrote the cover story for them:
You Can Trust Me, I'm a Psychic
You can't turn on the TV these days without being acosted by an infomercial for the latest scam: psychic hotlines. New ones spring up practically every day, and this fast growing fad is grabbing a lot more than foolish people's cash - souls are at stake. Have you ever wondered why these 900# scams are so effective in duping so many? Here's a look at the silliness and, how Catholics can respond to those who swear by their psychics. (To see the rest of the article, go here.)
First Things once published some poetry of mine. It was a high point for a scribbler like me and a low point for one of the subscribers, who wrote the first and only letter to First Things to complain about the quality of their poetry. Back to prose, Shea.
The Catholic Answer is a nicely done little monthly that answers every conceivable question people seem to be able to come up with about things Catholic. Here's a piece I wrote for them some time ago:
Pious Fantasy and the Liberty of the Believer
Once upon a time, on the Internet, someone from an Eastern Orthodox background posted a little note concerning the Feast of the Holy Innocents. According to this post there is apparently an old Orthodox tradition that the number of those slain by Herod was 14,000--a rather steep number for a tiny village like Bethlehem.
Someone else then wrote in and asked where the figure of 14,000 came from. In reply, the Orthodox poster said the figure derives from an apocryphal book called the Protoevangelium of James.
At this point, a somewhat less sympathetic poster chimed into the discussion and commented (concerning the 14,000 figure) that "This is just another pious fantasy propagated by the Church." (To see the rest of the article, go here.)
National Catholic Register is a another fine weekly Catholic newspaper which has published both my blog and my "Connecting the Dots" column for years. In addition, they have published some of my newsier stuff. Here's a taste:
Siena Institute Pioneers Collaboration in the New Evangelization
In 1994 the Dominican Order, in response to the Holy Father's call for a New Evangelization, adopted a resolution requiring "every province to consider its present commitment to parishes and ask if each one represents the best basis for itinerancy in preaching to the unchurched."
Since that resolution, some very promising work has taken shape in the form of the Catherine of Siena Institute founded in July 1997 by the Western Dominican Province. The Institute has the enthusiastic backing of Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., the Master of the Dominican Order, and has been given a startup grant by the Western Province with the equally enthusiastic support of the Provincial, Fr. Daniel Syverstad, O.P. The two people sharing responsibility for the Institute are Fr. Michael Sweeney, O.P. and Sherry Weddell, a laywoman and convert to the Faith from Evangelical Protestantism. (To see the rest of the article, go here.)
New Oxford Review was the first journal to publish my work, so I've always felt a sense of debt to them. Here's the piece they ran:
Truth Cancer and the Redemption of Rebellion
I love a good rebellion. I suspect most of us do. We root for the underdog. We love and applaud the jester who tweaks His Royal Stupidity's nose. We side with Groucho when he shows the pompous senator up for a fool. A capacity to see the rightness in these things is a measure of our health and humor. (To see the rest of the article, go here.)
Gilbert! is a fun journal of Chestertoniana offered by various people associated with the wonderful American Chesterton Society. A while back, all around fun guy and unindicted Mastermind of the Society, Dale Ahlquist, did an interview with me:
Mark Shea Makes Senses Out of Scripture (and GKC)
G!: In your book By What Authority? and again your most recent book Making Senses Out of Scripture, you refer to Chesterton as your "hero." How did he get to be your hero?
Shea: I've always empathized with C.S. Lewis, who remarked that Chesterton made an "immediate conquest" of him. For me, Chesterton came at a crucial point in my life as an Evangelical. I belonged to a small non-denom church which had many good things going for it, but which, as time wore on, also inevitably began to run into the problems any group of 30 Christians with the total experience of 5 years of Christian life will run into. I began to ask questions that we simply couldn't answer due to our ignorance of the life and Tradition of the Church. (Chesterton's remark about Tradition as the "democracy of the dead" made instant sense to me for that reason.) I began to encounter forms of philosophy and Christian belief (particularly virulent Calvinism) which my quiet little experience of non-denom charismatic church had in no way prepared me for. I began to ask questions about the goodness of creation, of humanity, of my own personal existence that my theology was ill-equipped to answer, but that Chesterton, with his theology of gratitude and his thumpingly joyful Thomism, answered deeply. I was hooked after reading Orthodoxy and I was deeply moved after reading St. Thomas Aquinas: the Dumb Ox. Since then, I've read oodles of GKC, including St. Francis of Assisi, What's Wrong with the World, scads of Father Brown stories, The Everlasting Man, The Thing, The Catholic Church and Conversion, and on and on. In a curious way, my experience with Chesterton was analogous to Chesterton's own experience of his father and of the Church. He struck me, not so much as somebody who accidentally told this truth or that truth, but as a "truth-telling thing". (To see the rest of the article, go here.)
Lay Witness is a nice magazine crammed with handy info on Catholic doctrine and doings. Some time ago, they ran this piece:
Pleading the Blood
If you had asked 15 years ago why my non-denominational church did not celebrate communion as all Catholics and many Protestants do, I would have given several reasons. First, Hebrews 9:27 teaches that Christ was "offered once to take away the sins of many" and sternly warns the church (Hebrews 6:6) against "recrucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding him up to contempt." So why on earth should we speak of the bread of communion as a "holy and living sacrifice" of the literal "Body and Blood of Christ" as Catholics do? (To see the rest of the article, go here.)
In addition, I have authored many other articles for magazines such as Catholic Digest, Crisis, God's Word Today, Midwest Chesterton News, The Family, St. Joseph Covenant Keepers Newsletter, Catholic Heritage and the late great New Covenant, for which I penned the column "Heaven and Earth".
Copyright 2016 - Mark P. Shea