Of Many Things
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...
September 22, 2014
The current archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., undoubtedly possesses one of the finest intellects in the American episcopate. His most important book, The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion, and Culture (2009), is an intellectual tour de force, an engaging account of the church’s relation to the secular world.
September 15, 2014
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was fond of quoting Pericles, the statesman in third-century B.C. Athens whose famous funeral oration is almost always the first entry in any anthology of great speeches. As the principal heir to his fallen brother’s ideals, Senator Kennedy prized courage above nearly all other human qualities; indeed, he considered it an indispensable personal and civic virtue.
Sept. 1-8, 2014
The exercise is brief, but revealing. During the first session of my parish’s adult Christian initiation program, the leader challenges the group: Draw what you think of when you hear the word church. The potential candidates and catechumens furrow their brows and grab a marker. Most of them produce a skeletal picture of a building—a square structure beneath a pointy roof with a cross on top, a few stained glass windows, a large door. Sometimes...
August 18-25, 2014
Across the street from the otherwise thoroughly middle-class Havana home of Che Guevara, about an eighth of a mile from the enshrined debris of a downed American U-2 flight, stands the Cristo de La Habana, a 66-foot-high statue of Jesus Christ carved out of 320 tons of marble.
August 4-11, 2014
There is an old chestnut, still circulating among agnostics, secularists and even a few believers, that goes something like this: “I don’t believe in God/organized religion. Look at all the violence religion has caused. Take the Middle East; those people have been killing each other for years.”