Author Archives: Doug Harrison

An Untimely Eulogy for the Outpatient Monk’s Biggest Fan.

DianneIn the back of my mind I have very passively been making two very big assumptions about my world. 1) That’ there will one day be a L’Arche community in Austin Texas for me to one day be a part of and 2) That Dianne would probably be the very first assistant at that community and that, like me, she would finally find her true home at L’Arche as well. Dianne was also, without question, the biggest fan of the Outpatient Monk blog and this will probably be the first post since I started writing that wont be read by her letter for letter. Dianne died tragically yesterday and this blog, this world, and my future will always be the lesser for her absence.

I am scattering her virtual ashes here at this place online to which I knew she loved to come. She was indeed a misfit, a lousy joiner and a homesick soul. The best way I can think to honor her would be to listen to her life honestly and pass on her light here so that her death would not be the end of her grace and love on this planet. Continue reading

The Discipline of Joy: Reasons to keep feasting when you just don’t feel like it. 

10888720_10152433579301594_5445321549225627710_nThis year, my experience of the holidays was…. not ideal. In short: I just stayed sick most the time.  I ended up in bed on Thanksgiving, on Christmas and again on Epiphany.  And while I had to cancel my normal plans to stay by myself in a cabin at the State Park for Christmas, I did have some good friends who at least managed to haul my feeble body to church for Christmas eve services.  I spent most of Christmas day with the blankets up to my chin and 30 Rock on Netflix.  I could have stayed there in bed all day, occasionally checking for signs of life on FaceBook and otherwise not really needing much more than my Vicks vapor rub and my water bottle. Continue reading

Ancient LifeHack: Remember the Sabbath Day and Keep it Holy

 The change of seasons may be slow and subtle in Austin, but the transition from summer to, well, an equally-as-hot-Autumn still inspires making some changes. After a lot of thinking I have decided to cut my job, not quit, just cut. Between working my “normal” 40 hours a week job and doing to personal and freelance work, I find I am busy, too busy, and that busy-ness has become my spirituality. Continue reading

One More Wall of Angels: Lent and the Death of Fred Phelps


imageThere are few men in the popular media in recent years that have been as easy to hate as Fred Phelps.   His tactics and behavior, if not his convictions alone, have been sufficient to offend both right and left and everyone in between.   His name has become synonymous with hatred.

The news of his impending death seem to come as good new on the social media and curated media outlets I follow.   And without any hint of surprise there are threats, commentary and speculation of returning, in kind, the protests and disdain Fred Phelps inflicted on so many other families.

It is both as a gay man and as a Christian that experience anger with him for vilifying what it means to be gay and outright butchering the Christian tradition in perfect Orwellian fashion, turning itself on its head and turning it into a weapon.  I have spent a good portion of my life reflecting on the motivations of people like Mr. Phelps and the answers are complex, but I can at least pull, for our own instruction, a lesson about his odd place in the culture wars…

He wanted to be right Continue reading

Holding Christians to their Own Light: Nonviolence and hope in Arizona’s “Turn the Gay Away,” Laws

Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb

Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb (Photo credit: Believe Out Loud)

I try to be careful about which hot culture issues I write about for this blog as it usually take about 20 minutes before everyone on my FaceBook news feed stops caring about which Buzzfeed quiz you are, how what “Miley did was shocking BUT WHAT HAPPENED NEXT will change you forever,” or, “Twerking and what it means to me.”.   So I don’t mean to fan the flames that bore you but since I have two dogs in this particular dog fight there is something I need to say.

I don’t find these laws very terrifying as I think they won’t hold muster to higher courts and I don’t think that they would even be very financial sustainable… but that is nowhere near my point.   The mere proposal of these laws, however,  just seems to me to be intentionally driving another wedge between people with different interests and pouring fuel on the hot tempers that run both blue and red. Continue reading

Grace, Race, and Peace: Admitting there is a problem is the first step to getting help.

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Josephine Bakhita, St Martin De Porres, Mother Mary Lange, Fr. Tolton

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, or so I have been told by those who specialize in treating addiction. What they also tell me is that the correlative is true: the the greater investment we make in denial, the more the addiction feeds itself.

I was raised, as many in American were to believe that racism is a bad thing. But I was also raised to believe that racism is only a limited description of mean and ill intended choices that one person could, but should not, make. Therefore it was pretty easy for me to agree that being racist is bad, because it was pretty easy to determine that I wasn’t one. Continue reading

Making room for Christ with Dorothy Day

image This post is a reflection on Dorothy Day’s classic advent writing…Room for Christ by Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day has a way of hacking into our sophisticated means of cushioning the incarnation, doesn’t she? There is little that we, including me, would love more than to believe that Christmas is something that we simply need to remember. Wouldn’t it be nice to say that Christmas was a thing that happened in a different era; “The Bible Times,” as we like to say. It was a thing that happened and it has meaning for us today. And isn’t that lovely and worth commemorating with pageantry and especially crafts and baking. We have quite literally domesticated Christmas in the tamest and most disappointing sense of that word. Continue reading

The Suspicious Miracle of the Tarnished Cross. A guest post on faith by David J. Dunn

David J. Dunn is a good friend whose friendship helps sustain my faith. He also writes my favorite blog on the Huffington Post and one of the sharpest Christian Blogs on the internet providing keen and refreshingly Christian insights on on otherwise boringly controversial topics. Here he offers some particularly helpful reflections on imperfect faith.

My Sullied Cross

My Sullied Cross

This is the cross I received at my chrismation. It’s tarnished. It is always tarnished. It was bright, shiny, and new the day that I first received it. It became sullied almost immediately afterwards.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to polish it. I have actually tried to polish it several times. The dark smudges will go away for a couple of hours, but by the time church is over, the imperfections of my cross will reappear. I have decided that that’s way the it’s supposed to be. I think God is trying to tell me something. I am an Orthodox Christian. I should believe in miracles. A common miracle in the Orthodox Church is weeping icons. Icons that drip myhrr. I have never seen a weeping icon, but my cross won’t get clean. Continue reading

I’ll Have What They’re Having. Why it is good to remember saints on All Saints Day

Communion of Saints Tapestries

Communion of Saints Tapestries (Photo credit: Zeetz Jones)

Flannery O’Connor, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, and Walker Percy.   Those are my answers when people ask me, knowing what they do about me, why I became Catholic so late in my life.    In fact there are many answers to that simple question, but one of the quickest ways to say what I mean is simply by making a short list of some of the people who I want most to be like.   If you want to know who I am, ask my friends.  But if you want to know who I am becoming, ask my heroes. Continue reading

“Short Term 12,” The grace you give may be your own.

Short-Term-12-555x370Sammy is a pale and furious vision.  He is shirtless, young, scrawny and utterly enraged.   He shrieks as he runs toward the small white gate that serves as the thin membrane between Short Term 12 (his group home) and his ridiculous idea of the life of an autonomous child.  He is ferrel. He is angry. He is, as they say, “throwing a fit.”  He is also dead in his tracks, suddenly caught, held down and screeching.

For a while he flails like a fish on sand but only for moments.  It subsides while you watch. Mason asks him if he almost has it out of his system, which is clearly the case. Grace tells him to let it pass. It does. Now if we were all wise enough and smart enough, that one scene would have taught us everything we need to know from the movie “Short Term 12.”  Thankfully, we are not yet that wise because the rest of the movie is so worth it. Continue reading