This is a space for people who love ideas.
But it’s also a space for those of us who live ordinary lives, those of us who might respect “the ivory tower” but who don’t live in it ourselves. It’s a space for people who love philosophy, theology, history, culture, and literature, and who want to draw meaning out of these to help answer problems of everyday life. That’s why I write.
I take pride in my efforts to present ideas in ways that are interesting and often unusual. Part of this comes from my background. I’m Catholic, gay, multiracial, a writer, a professional negotiator, the leader of a creative writing workshop, and an advocate for abuse survivors in the Church. My background and experiences give me a unique perspective that I’d love to share with you.
My newsletter will typically include what I’m reading, what I’m watching, and musings on 2-4 topics. I’ll also regularly publish long-form essays that will give a deeper dive on subjects that matter. Past newsletters and essays have covered topics like deconstruction, Newman on the development of doctrine, MacIntyrean virtue ethics, rethinking Catholicism and homosexuality, Platonic eros, Critical Race Theory, the dynamics of clergy abuse, political theory and Catholic Social Teaching, natural law, and Burkean conservatism.
I hope that the newsletters and essays can provide starting points for discussions with your family and friends, and that they can help lead you to books or articles you’d enjoy. I hope they’ll give new and fresh ways to look at today’s controversies.
A free subscription will get you my newsletter (usually published every other week) where I’ll discuss:
what I’m reading, thinking, and caring about;
how I make sense of the world; and
ways I maintain an intellectual life outside of professional academia.
A paid subscription ($5/month or $50/year) will get you access to the archives and additional content.
If you’re looking for posts on a particular topic, you can check out the post index here.
You can find my glossary of unusual and commonly misunderstood terms here.
If the above sounds a bit like you, I’d be happy to consider your essays, poems, or short stories for this Substack! Submission information, including payment for accepted content, can be found here.
Friends have described me as hospitable, but also as passionate and intense. I maintain a pretty intense lifestyle. I have an exciting career as a corporate attorney, but I also run a creative writing workshop and spend a lot of time reading and writing. In my free time, I enjoy hosting dinner parties and conversations over cocktails. If you care about credentials, some of what I’ve done includes:
Receiving my B.A. in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and my J.D. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas, where I was a fellow for the Murphy Institute on Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy.
Publishing essays on law, marriage, theology, and sexuality in both popular and peer-reviewed academic journals, including Commonweal, Church Life Journal, Logos, and The Intercollegiate Review. My work addressing clergy abuse and institutional corruption has also been covered in publications such as The Atlantic, America Magazine, The Pillar, and City Journal.
Serving as a consultant as part of an LGB advisory group for a Catholic diocese in preparation for the World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis. I’ve also participated as part of an advisory group for a national nonprofit on how to engage Catholics on legislation before Congress.
Speaking before hundreds of persons on these and related questions at university conferences, Catholic parishes, and corporate events.
Outside of all that, I’m a transplant to Minnesota from Texas. I live in Saint Paul with my dog who will be occasionally featured in the newsletters. If you’re ever in the area, feel free to reach out; I’d love to meet you for a coffee!
Mezzo: for the in-between
You might be wondering about my site logo. As I’ve developed various spaces, including this site, my Instagram account, my writing workshop, and other initiatives, I’ve found that one concept which holds them together is the concept of “mezzo.” I connect the word to the opening lines of Dante’s Comedy:
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la dirritta via era smarrita.
Midway through the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
for the straightforward way was lost.
In the context of my writing workshop, The Mezzo Consortium, we are “mezzo” writers, writers who are “halfway,” on a journey, growing and developing ourselves and our writing.
In other spaces, like this site and my Instagram, I’ve found that people often engage because they are also characterized by “mezzo.” Many of you are here because you’re midway, in-between, on a journey. These spaces are often characterized by the holding of tensions, by intersectional identities and concerns, by bringing together people and backgrounds and experiences that don’t tend to find easy coexistence, by working through the mess and continuing forward.
Maybe you realized that the easy answers were the wrong answers, that you or your community had mistakenly thought the journey was complete, until it was upended by something that made you lose “the straightforward way.” You found yourself “within a forest dark,” and you knew that that was exactly where you were supposed to be on your journey. You continue on.
None of us are on the same journey. But we can journey together.
In the logo, the “M” is made of two mountains. That’s been a key image for me. I feel as though my journey is currently one of scaling a mountain, where the top is hidden in cloud cover. I don’t know how far I have to go, but I know I have to keep going. The “M” is also incomplete, with spaces that still need to be filled in. As I’ve shared before, I’m not the expert, and I don’t have everything figured out. I still have a lot to learn. I’m grateful for the many things you all have taught me, and continue to teach me.
Behind those mountains, just on the other side, is the sun. Maybe we can’t see it from our side of the mountain, but we believe it’s there. The sun may be unique to each of us. Maybe for you it’s justice, or liberation, or integration, or self-acceptance. What we share is hope, a commitment to its pursuit, and mutual encouragement. And while that sun may be on the other side of the mountain, it also breaks out of the box that contains us. That’s what we’re working to do.
Expect the identity of this space (and other spaces I manage) to continue to change and develop. The journey is unique to each person. But we can still journey together, scaling the mountain and marking points of danger, sharing where we’ve made mistakes, setting up spaces of safety, and offering a helping hand to those behind us.
Though I may sometimes talk about my professional life, the views expressed on any of my pages or accounts are my own, and not those of my employer.
I’m not here to be anyone’s hero or role model. And I don’t have everything figured out. If I write things that you find helpful, that’s great. If anything I write is not helpful for you, feel free to disregard it.
Life is not social media, and social media is not my life.
Therapy is great. I am not qualified to be your therapist. I don’t like giving advice to people I don’t know personally, even if I’m happy to think through how I might approach certain circumstances. But if, like me, you’d benefit from seeing a therapist with experience in religious trauma, I’d highly recommend looking at resources available through the Reclamation Collective.