November 3, 2014
Like many people, I hear the words of Pope Francis as an invitation to query what new things the Holy Spirit is doing today. There must be a million ways to structure this inquiry, a million lenses. I’m not choosing the most common lens—what Francis might mean for the institutional church—but rather what he might mean for a personal call to holiness. Like many people, I am a middle-class North American spouse and parent, in a country with a troubling amount of fragmentation and want. My...
October 20, 2014
As many as 300,000 people marched in New York on Sept. 21 to call for the United Nations to take action on climate change—four times the number that organizers predicted. In the interfaith bloc, behind a wooden ark on wheels and a giant inflatable mosque, I marched and sang with nuns and seminarians, friends and strangers, sharing our love for the planet we all have in common.
October 13, 2014
Its new war on the Islamic State puts the United States in the middle of the multiplying fault lines in the Middle East. Polls show that most Americans support it but doubt it will be any more successful than our previous war in Iraq, which bred instability and the Sunni jihadists overrunning Syria and Iraq whom we are now seeking to destroy. I turned to an array of Mideast scholars and experts to learn more about the mission the United States has set itself...
October 6, 2014
Some people believe that Jesuits can be characterized as follows: We all have doctorates; we all know the pope personally; and we all travel to Rome frequently. But, like many Jesuits, I do not have a Ph.D.; I’ve never met the pope; and the last time I was in Rome was decades ago—in 1994, on my way home from a two-year stay in Kenya.
September 22, 2014
‘The faith is Europe,” Hilaire Belloc claimed a century ago, “and Europe is the faith.” To say the same today might provoke laughter or confusion. When we think of Europe, is the first thing that comes to mind Christianity?
Now, quick—say the first word that pops into your head when you read the word after the colon: Africa.
September 15, 2014
There is still no consensus in the United States about whether caring for children is a worthy expenditure of women’s time. In surveys and in their concrete choices, women express and demonstrate strong interests in caring for children. At the same time, the federal government and influential interest groups insist, in the context of their three-year-old campaign in favor of the Health and Human Services’ “contraceptive mandate,” that the power to avoid...
Sept. 1-8, 2014
‘If you want to meet the poor, take the bus.” That’s a saying I’ve heard many times from my brother Jesuits. It refers not so much to transportation within cities (though it certainly could) as to long-distance travel. My own preference, especially here in the Northeastern United States, is traveling by train: in these parts Amtrak is quick, reliable and relatively inexpensive if you plan far enough in advance. As for planes, well, to be charitable, I’ll...
August 4-11, 2014
Israel is at it again. Given political orthodoxy in the United States, I should probably say Israel and the Palestinians are at it again, or, more precisely, Israel and Hamas are at it again, yet the disproportion between the two sides is such that there is no equivalence. One side is offering ineffectual resistance with rockets that are striking chiefly for their inaccuracy; the other is using the most sophisticated weapons of war to terrorize a population...
July 21-28, 2014
Having grown up in central New York State, not far from the Adirondack Park, I have always had a special place in my heart for the beauty of deciduous forests. The green trees and shrubs, the rolling hills and glacial valleys, the clear blue lakes and streams illustrate for me the truth of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poetic vision, inspired as it was by the Franciscan John Duns Scotus, that “the world is charged with the grandeur of God.”
July 7-14, 2014
In Graham Greene’s novel The Power and the Glory (1940), a soon-to-be-martyred Mexican priest on the run from government troops encounters a haunting sight while saying Mass: local peasants who, having toiled all day at their backbreaking work, come before the altar and spread their arms as if on a crucifix, imitating Christ on the cross. “One more mortification squeezed out of their harsh and painful lives,” thinks the priest.