The National Catholic Review

The Good Word

  • Goethe’s last words were “Mehr Licht” (more light). Mortally wounded, John Wilkes Booth muttered, “Useless. Useless.” John Belushi begged, “Just don’t leave me alone.”

  • In the first entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on Galatians, I discussed introductory matters concerning the founding of the churches to the Galatians, the situation when Paul wrote to them, when the letter might have been written and the type of letters which Paul wrote, based on the common Greco-Roman letters of his day.

  • Our identities are forged in life yet never by ourselves alone.  Whoever you might wish to be, who you actually are in the world is clearly a combination of your own efforts and their acceptance by others.  Indeed, to close off one’s identity from others, to resist their contribution in its formation, would be to make one’s self more an actor than a human being, something of an illusion, trying to pass off a self that is no more than a chimera. 

  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, the twentieth century’s great philosopher of language, famously wrote, “If a lion could speak, we would not be able to understand him.”  That’s how he debunked the very possibility of science fiction’s “universal translator,” the instrument we would presumably, someday, use to converse with aliens.  Anything can be translated, more or less, from one language into another.  Wittgenstein said that this was possible because all human languages are based upon our common...

  • When Michelangelo’s Pieta was first unveiled, wags found two errors.  The Virgin, holding her dead son, is larger than he is.  By three feet, if they both stood up.  The artist answered that this distortion was done in the service of beauty.  The body of a fully grown man would look ungainly in Mary’s lap.  The second criticism was the Madonna’s face.  It’s that of an adolescent, perhaps the Virgin who conceived but certainly not the Mother who received her dead son’s body.  Responding to...

  • Summers in Kansas, somewhere in the large state, storms come every night.  There are always watches and warnings of tornadoes.  Watches we ignore.  They only mean that conditions are right for a twister.  Warnings we hear.  One has been sighted.  Forewarned, we know we can ride out the weather, unless, that is, the tornado wants it otherwise.  Then there’s no appeal.  The tempest will have its say.  There are storms no soul can survive.

  • In the first entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on Galatians, I discussed introductory matters concerning the founding of the churches to the Galatians, the situation when Paul wrote to them, when the letter might have been written and the type of letters which Paul wrote, based on the common Greco-Roman letters of his day.

  • Humans have a hunger, which they do not share with any other creature on earth.  It’s a craving for meaning.  All animals find sustenance in the world, but we alone require something else of it.  We need the world to be purposeful.  That’s at the core of what it means to be human, or, as we like to say, to have a soul: to want something of the world.  We don’t simply consume the world physically.  We do so spiritually as well.  Our completion, our final self, lies somewhere out there, out in...

  • In the first entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on Galatians, I discussed introductory matters concerning the founding of the churches to the Galatians, the situation when Paul wrote to them, when the letter might have been written and the type of letters which Paul wrote, based on the common Greco-Roman letters of his day.

  • You must know this about the Pearl of Great Price.  Finding it is not fortuitous.  Indeed, to discover it is to know that, without it, your life couldn’t have been the same, couldn’t have been your life.