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Angels, Demons, Heaven, and Hell: On Christian “Mythology” and the Spiritual Life

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My comments for a conversation with Fr. Peter Funk, OSB, Prior of the Monastery of the Holy Cross, sponsored by the Lumen Christi Institute
Abstract:Many traditional Christian beliefs and teachings about spiritual realities have become unpalatable to modern sensibilities. Accounts of angelic visitations, demonic possessions, the stain of original sin, and the threat of eternal torment are today considered untrue or irrelevant by non-believers and even many Christians. Why were such “myths” so central to Christian belief and practice for so many centuries? Is there any value in understanding why ancient, medieval, and contemporary Christians believe in such things? Or does Christianity need to be demythologized in order to survive in a post-enlightenment age? In this conversation, Rachel Fulton Brown and Fr. Peter Funk, OSB, will consider the history of these “myths” and their relevance for contemporary spiritual practices.
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How many of you believe in angels or demons? Heaven or hell…

The Trickster and the Shadow

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Quick, think of a joke, a really funny joke!

I know, it’s hard, isn’t it? Like, really, really hard. Almost as if it is wrong to make jokes, even mild ones, never mind the kinds of jokes that Milo likes to make.

I’m sure you’ve heardabout Milo’s jokes. Everyonehas.

Particularly howunfunny they are, according tosome.

Here are some of the jokes that Simon & Schuster’s copy-editor Mitchell Ivers found particularly unfunny in the first draft of Milo’s Dangerous (Ivers’s comments in italics):
I can practically hear science fiction authors currently suffering an incursion of social justice feverishly writing stories about traveling through time to bump off [cultural Marxist] Antonio [Gramsci] before he wrote anything influential. —Unclear, unfunny, delete. Did you notice, by the way, that these stroppy [whiny]celebs uniformly threatened to move to [overwhelmingly] white countries? ... If it wasn’t Canada, it was New Zealand, Australia or another [primarily] white, English-speaking count…

The Wrong Joke in the Wrong Place: MILO and M*A*S*H

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My father served as a surgeon in the US Air Force for two years during the Vietnam War. Stateside, he was stationed from 1970 to 1971 at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha; in Thailand, he was stationed from 1971 to 1972 at Udorn. We stayed in Omaha while he was abroad.

I was only five when we moved to Omaha, so my memories of those years consist primarily of swimming lessons, skating, giant snow drifts, and beingbaptized—but there is another memory that sticks out that is somewhat less usual.

There was a party for the doctors and their families out by a lake. After dinner, we kids—there were lots of us, all fairly young—had been shooed outside to play in the gloaming, but after exploring the grounds and exhausting the potentials of tag, we got curious about what the grown-ups were doing.

We snuck back inside. The lights were down. They were watching a movie! On screen, there were surgeons in their greens standing over a patient, a woman. As we watched, her belly started swelling and swel…

He Said, She Said: MILO’s Livelier Style in Review

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Now that we’ve celebrated the birth of Our Lord, it is time to review the lies that have been told about his servants this past year. One servant in particular. You know whom I mean. My colleagues in medieval studies can’t stop talking about him!


The above Facebook post links to an article published back in September 2017 by another of my medievalist colleagues arguing that “to target Milo at a fellow human being”—which he implies I did by writing about the things others have been saying about me on social media and tagging Milo on my Facebook share—is “a solicitation for harassment, including likely violent threats.” His proof? A list of things that he says Milo has said, with helpful links to his (my colleague’s) sources.

This same colleague has recently challenged me on Twitter—where I cannot respond, he has me (the “Famous Medievalist”) blocked!—with a link to his original article (see below for the full piece, along with the beginning of the Twitter thread):


Okay, then. Let’s rea…