Of Many Things
December 1, 2014
What do you get when you take a handful to a dozen of the most energetic and inspired students from almost every Jesuit high school or college in the country and bring them together for one weekend? You get the “Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice,” an annual event held this year from Nov. 15 to 17 in the Washington, D.C., area. If you could bottle the energy from that weekend, and give it in small doses to apathetic Catholics across the country, it...
November 24, 2014
On one long wall of my office in New York, arranged in two rows, are the portraits of of my predecessors, 13 in all since 1909. Among them are some of the most accomplished churchmen in U.S. history, a daily reminder that I stand on the shoulders of giants. The third portrait from the right, on the bottom row, is that of George W. Hunt, S.J., the 11th editor in chief. A native of Yonkers, N.Y., Father Hunt entered the Society of Jesus in 1954 and was...
November 17, 2014
Last month I attended the 2014 Erasmus Lecture sponsored by First Things, the journal of opinion founded by the late Rev. Richard John Neuhaus. The lecture was given by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia; his theme was “Strangers in a Strange Land,” a thought-provoking account of the current state of the church in the United States. America’s readers will know that this journal has expressed different opinions from those held by...
November 10, 2014
Thurston N. Davis, S.J., America’s editor in chief from 1955 to 1968, once described this review as “a weekly raid on the City of God in order to publish, in the City of Man, a journal that talks common Christian sense about the world of human events.” Father Davis would have been the first to admit that this self-understanding sounds a bit pretentious.
November 3, 2014
In mid-October, four of the leading experts on the life and work of Flannery O’Connor gathered at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., to discuss the Christian witness of the Southern Gothic writer, who died 50 years ago last summer. The symposium was co-sponsored by the seminary and America, the first in a series of events on Catholic literature, politics and the papacy.
October 27, 2014
America’s marketing department likes to remind people that at the time of my appointment, I was the youngest editor in chief in the magazine’s history. It’s not, however, as impressive as it sounds. For one thing, the Catholic priesthood is one of the few places where 40 is actually considered young. My nieces and nephews, for example, a couple of whom have just started college, probably think that I’m more than a little out of touch. They...
October 20, 2014
You may not know that in addition to our entanglements in the Middle East and elsewhere, the United States is currently prosecuting a land war in Britain. For more than five decades now, Britain’s native red squirrel has been locked in mortal combat with his cousin from across the pond, the American grey squirrel. Every autumn, the British press files reports from the various theaters of operation.
October 13, 2014
On the morning of May 25, 1979, 6-year-old Etan Patz left his Manhattan apartment to catch the school bus and was never seen again. The case was cold for decades, until a suspect came forward last year and confessed to the crime. A trial is set to begin this January, though the authorities are still evaluating the credibility of the suspect’s confession, as well as his mental capacity.
October 6, 2014
It’s a pretty good bet that if 300,000 people walked by your house in the space of an hour you would notice it. Yet here in New York City, where everything is just bigger and louder, some of us almost missed the calvacade of climate change activists bounding by our headquarters last weekend. We knew the march was coming, of course, but it hadn’t fully penetrated our consciousness—much like climate change itself, I regret to say. It’s the topic on all of...
September 29. 2014
In the aftermath of the vile murder, the Gospels tell us, the disciples are bewildered, in shock, angry, ashamed, numb, empty. Jesus, the one in whom they had hoped, is gone. Worse still, most of them had turned and run away rather than face the hour of danger. In the day following Jesus’ burial, some of them are still running; two have even left Jerusalem, en route to a place called Emmaus, a town about seven miles northwest of Jerusalem. After all, why...