December 7-14, 2015
It wasn’t until I moved across the state line to what the sign at the top of my block tells me is “the most beautiful little city in Kansas” that I realized how carefully Jesus had chosen his words when he said, “Love thy neighbor.” Previously, I had regarded the word “neighbor” as a metaphor for anybody and everybody. Now I think it possible that “neighbor,” as it occurs in that phrase, is intended in the most literal sense. Not all and sundry, but the...
November 23, 2015
This time of year, the Mother of God is very pregnant. The skin around her belly stretches to hold the weight of her child. She feels him squirm and settle as no one else ever will. He presses against her organs. She gets short of breath and has trouble finding a comfortable position at night for sleep. She wonders if she can stretch any more than this to contain her son and all he will become, yet each day she does.
November 16, 2015
The English journalist Auberon Waugh is usually credited with coining the term “the chattering classes,” his sneering moniker for the mostly educated, mostly informed portion of the population that often confuses gossip for fact and prides itself on insider status as it makes decisions for the unheard majority. The Catholic Church has been blessed and cursed by such a class since at least the days of the Medici, though for tech-savvy American Catholics the...
November 9, 2015
It’s been more than four years and 100 lawsuits since the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services first proposed requiring religious institutions to include “free” contraception and early abortifacients in their health insurance coverage.
Only God (and the Government Accountability Office) know how much this administration has spent on this crusade. Almost certainly more than it would take to provide...
October 26, 2015
I try not to write too often about working with the media because it can sound like “Look at me, I’m on TV.” It is also a threat to humility, an occupational hazard for anyone who has ever appeared in print or on television. Nonetheless, part of our ministry at America is helping the so-called secular media. In the words of John Courtney Murray, S.J. (or Pedro Arrupe, S.J, or Daniel Lord, S.J., or St. Ignatius Loyola, depending on your “sourcing”), one way...
October 19, 2015
It was a news story I’ve never forgotten: a Japanese soldier discovered on an island in the Philippines who still thought Japan was at war 29 years after World War II had ended. He and other soldiers on the island had seen leaflets that the war was over but thought the news was enemy propaganda. Over the years his fellow soldiers died or deserted and only he was left to wage a war that everyone but him knew was lost.
October 12, 2015
The economy of Christianity is weird. It doesn’t seem to work the way worldly economies do; the prodigal son gets a party, and the poor will inherit the kingdom. Then again, worldly economies are weird, too. Hard-working people die in poverty, and children go hungry in the richest country on earth.
Our economies are getting weird enough, for instance, that a certain strange economic idea is starting to get a lot of attention, on both the right and the left: that...
September 28, 2015
Who wasn’t outraged at the recent news that the required reading for Duke University’s incoming students this August was Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home, and that some students had opted out? The students had taken offense on religious grounds at what they called graphic depictions of same-sex liaisons and promotion of a lesbian lifestyle. Those outraged that students were forced to read such material were soon outnumbered by those outraged that...
September 21, 2015
I would guess that most Catholics, old and young, are struggling to attain the “personal encounter with Jesus Christ” that Pope Francis repeatedly preaches. Me too. So what am I to do to facilitate “introducing” my kids to Jesus Christ, when my own spiritual life is so often dry? And how do I approach such a task from the right “platform”?
It cannot be a platform of: “This is a test of my parenting persuasion skills.” It...
September 14, 2015
Two years ago an Italian scientist published a book entitled The Mystery of the Shroud , an examination of the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, the cloth that many believe to be the burial cloth of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels. This book asserted that contrary to scientific studies from the late 1980s, the 14-foot piece of linen cloth, which is stored in an underground vault in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, dates not from medieval...