The National Catholic Review

The Good Word

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  • Taylor Chiu didn’t describe her mother as overly pushy or strict, though, clearly, her mom had high expectations of her daughter. Once, when Taylor mentioned that parents of other students paid them $20 for every “A” they earned, her mom responded, “Why would we pay you? It’s just what we expect of you.”

    Taylor went to high school in Palo Alto, Calif., an affluent area, where garnering grades and SAT scores that earn entrance into elite colleges is only part of “what we expect.” So,...

  • One of the most tragic, yet telling, lines in America theatre, is delivered at the end of Tennessee Williams’ play “Summer and Smoke.” Alma Winemiller, the fallen daughter of the local minister, in Glorious Hill, Miss., tries to seduce a travelling salesman. Poor Alma herself has travelled such a distance. Early in the play she argues with a sensual young physician, comparing the soul to a gothic cathedral in which “everything reaches up, how everything seem to be straining for something out...

  • Satire uses exaggeration, irony and ridicule to show us our shortcomings. A satirist distorts the story, which we already know, so that a truth, one not readily evident, can emerge. It’s not easy to write satire when the times are as unpredictable as the weather. History seems to have entered its own sort of warming acceleration so that today’s parody runs the risk of becoming prophecy.

    The French satirist Michele Houellebecq was on the cover of Charlie Hebdo, the very week its staff...

  • This is the 30th entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. This entry deals with Cornelius’s vision and Peter’s trance.

    For previous entries , please now go to the Complete Acts of the Apostle Commentary , where you can find links to each of the entries updated after each new blog...

  • My junior year in college, I decided to leave the seminary. Don’t fret. We know how the story turns out. Today I would say that I was skittish, but, back then, it was the biggest event of my life. (Of course, everything in college was the biggest event in my life.) I had made this decision with the help of my spiritual director, and it was time to inform others.

    My meeting with Fr. Huntzinger, the director of pastoral formation, went well. I explained that I would be going to the...

  • There is no life without death. The two are twinned. We know that death always follows life, though in the most abstract, easily ignored way. It is still a challenge to picture our own selves, drawn down into that darkness. Our imaginations may be weak here, but, like every other animal, we are born with an instinct to live, to flee death.

    There is no life without death. The two are twinned in yet another sense. Some would say that only those who have faced death know what it means...

  • In his notes, the famous doctor wrote:

    The patient is a healthy-looking man of good physique. There are no physical signs of any disorder of the Nervous System. He discusses his recent actions and their motives in a perfectly intelligent and rational way, and there is no evidence of any excitement or depression. He recognizes that his view of warfare is tinged by his feeling about the death of friends and of the men who were under his command in France. At the present time he lays...
  • As Livy tells it, callous drunks and the rape of a virtuous woman gave birth to the Republic of Rome. The inebriates were young army officers who had grown bored while besieging the nearby town of Ardea. To settle an inane argument, over whose wife was more virtuous, one of their number, Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, proposed that they ride home and surprise their wives.

    Collatinus won the dispute, because the other wives were discovered partying while their husbands were away. His...

  • This is the twenty-ninth entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. This entry deals with Peter’s missionary travels to Lydda and Joppa and his powerful encounter with Tabitha.

    For previous entries , please now go to the Complete Acts of the Apostle Commentary , where you can find...

  • Thump. Thump. Thump. It was amazing how long he could do it. My brother Harold, practicing basketball floor passes. I couldn’t see the point of basketball, so spending any time perfecting it seemed wasted to me. Who could care where the ball went, and how many times it did it? Thump. Thump. Thump. No doubt my brother thought the same of me and my comic books. How many times can Superman save the day?

    It challenges credulity, but I don’t remember my brother deliberately disobeying my...