Faith in Focus
October 3, 2016
The Yale University Art Gallery and Center for British Art face each other across Chapel Street in New Haven, Conn. They are the closest thing on campus to church, including churches, though I rarely think of anything so lofty when I walk by. It’s where Bill Clinton crossed a picket line to pick up a girl. My own church was News Haven, the newsstand where I spent hours poring over journals.
Dr. John McLaughlin was my patron.
I am at the youngest end of the viewership for “The...
September 19, 2016
As children, my older sister and I staged elaborate Barbie doll games. Whenever we played, my sister’s dolls would go off to work, go on dates and generally engage in the adult world as we encountered it. Her dolls would eventually marry one of our two Ken dolls in an extravagant Barbie wedding. My dolls, on the other hand, were always married the moment we began and procreated at an unrealistic pace soon thereafter. Often we would have to draft...
September 12, 2016
Two of the happiest years of my life were spent as a stay-at-home dad when our son, Isaiah, was a toddler. The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, began like most of our days with a meandering walk around our neighborhood after breakfast, stopping whenever we met something of interest: a slug wending its silvery path across the sidewalk; a handful of pebbles to throw, one by one, into the street; a neighbor planting flowers along her driveway. An hour later...
August 29-September 6, 2016
My godfather grew up with my father in Oakland, Calif., a black man and a white man coming of age together in the 1940s and ’50s, when that might have been unusual in other parts of the country. It seemed normal enough in the Bay Area. They had stayed in touch as my parents raised us, worked and worked some more.
My godfather spent his career in the United Nations overseeing refugee evacuations around the world. He married...
August 15-22, 2016
We hated Bernards High School. Hated their pretentiously pronounced name, their zone defense and their lanky coach, whose white vest clashed with his team’s red uniforms. The varsity team was going to lose later that night—their losing streak would extend for another full year—but our junior varsity team usually had a chance.
Not this time. Bernards took J.V. seriously, and they had Colin Kelly. I’d heard whispers of him from...
August 15-22, 2016
I grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s in western suburban Cincinnati, where my Catholic identity took shape at Our Lady of Victory Parish. My mother almost always attended high Mass early on Sundays, but my dad and I usually went to the guitar Mass later in the morning. The first floor of our parish’s recently constructed school building functioned as a temporary “new” church, where most liturgies were held, but our pastor decided that the soon-to-be-condemned,...
August 1-8, 2016
There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war—at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake. —Daniel J. Berrigan, S.J.
My second son, Crispin, turned 16 this year. He got his first job, which means soon he will be paying for his own cell phone plan and guitar lessons. Also, he has a driver’s permit, with license and driving privileges to follow this summer, if...
August 1-8, 2016
Among the mor e poignant tributes that have appeared since the death of Elie Wiesel on July 2, 2016, is Eva Fleischner’s open letter to him published in America in 1988 and now posted on its website. The Austrian-born Fleischner, a Holocaust scholar and pioneer of relations between Catholics and Jews, reflected on Mr. Wiesel’s relationship with the eminent French Catholic writer François...
July 18-25, 2016
This past May, as part of his ongoing Fridays of Mercy ministry, Pope Francis paid a surprise visit to the Il Chicco L’Arche community in Ciampino, Italy, just outside of Rome.
In each of the 147 L’Arche communities around the world, people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together. During his visit the pope “sat with residents and shared a snack with them and the volunteers who live with them,” Vatican...
July 4-11, 2016
I can’t stand the stuff in my home. I don’t seem to be alone in this evaluation. Most people think that too much stuff is no good for us as a species. We all know the reasons. Stuff prevents us from doing the things we should be doing. Stuff is bad for the environment. And the more stuff we make, use, own and bury, the worse things get. Having too much stuff is that rare thing all of us—faithful, secular and agnostic—appear to agree on, which in and of...