March 9, 2015
You’re a fan of Bob Dylan, right? But not really. You’re a fan of his music. You prefer covers by Adele, Johnny Cash, The Byrds or Joan Baez, because you don’t much care for Dylan’s voice. And if you’re like most people, you think Bob Dylan is sort of a jerk.
March 2, 2015
The one subject guaranteed to start fireworks today is children. Hence the pyrotechnics whenever Pope Francis talks of rabbits, sterility or contraception. Judging from my 16 years teaching family law, the law struggles with children too, for reasons similar to why individuals do.
February 23, 2015
One of the biggest surprises during my time at America came in 1995, when I was a Jesuit scholastic. Christopher Hitchens, the atheist and author who has since died, had just published a book-length attack on Blessed Teresa of Calcutta entitled The Missionary Position. Mr. Hitchens had received a great deal of attention for accusing Mother Teresa of accepting contributions from corrupt politicians. One of our senior editors, the late...
February 9, 2015
A few years ago, I read The United States and Torture, a collection of essays by lawyers, historians, journalists and scholars edited by Marjorie Cohn, a professor of law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. I had kept abreast of the news and thought I was up to snuff on the subject, but The United States and Torture showed me there was more to learn than I had ever imagined.
February 2, 2015
For a country whose politicians make so much of “family values,” it’s perplexing that the United States remains the only industrialized country on the planet with no requirement for paid parental leave. Parents not lucky enough to have a job that offers a few paid weeks off must choose between those vital first days with their newborns and the paycheck that provides for them. Since our health care system is still largely tied to full-time work, a parent who...
January 19-26, 2015
Among the charming figures of New York City civic life in recent decades has been Joseph O’Hare, S.J., who served as editor in chief of America from 1975 to 1984 and as president of Fordham University from 1984 to 2003. Anyone who knows Father O’Hare (now living back in his native Bronx) can attest that he is also a world-class raconteur. Among his tales is one about his father, also Joe O’Hare, and my grandfather, Michael Keane, fellow Irishmen who...
December 22-29, 2014
Most Americans probably think that Catholics talk about the subject of the relationship between men and women to the point of exhaustion. But we don’t. We have rather peered into every corner of their sex lives and by turns gossiped and wrung our hands over couples’ failure to gel or their falling apart. As to the natural and divine significance of the fact that there are two sexes, drawn to one another in a one-flesh bond? As for this being the origin of...
December 8-15, 2014
During my retreat this year, I broke a longstanding rule. Many years ago, when I was a Jesuit novice, my first spiritual director counseled that the only books one should read during a retreat (other than those in the Bible) are lives of the saints. Other spiritual reading, he felt—particularly books on prayer—may tempt you from actually praying. There is great wisdom in that: reading about prayer is usually easier than praying.
December 1, 2014
What makes for a good life? I’ve been asking people that recently, and I’ve been surprised by some of the answers. The most unexpected came from an 87-year-old lapsed Catholic, who said: “I think a good life is one where you find out who you really are. We are all so different. ”
November 17, 2014
Marcia Lee plants community everywhere she goes.