Of Many Things

  • April 28-May 5, 2014

    When it was announced last September that Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII would be canonized together on the same day this month, the phones started ringing here at America. The secular press were looking for commentary and analysis. One call came from a prominent reporter at a major American newspaper who asked: “Father, would you call this a bipartisan canonization? Is Francis telling us that Catholics need to reach across the aisle?”

  • April 21, 2014

    One of the greatest Christian writers who ever lived is the unknown author of this ancient homily from the second century, a meditation on Holy Saturday. Happy Easter from the editors and staff of America.

  • April 14, 2014

    If you’ve ever struggled to get the safety cap off of a prescription medicine bottle, you have Lyndon Baines Johnson to thank for it. Sometime in 1966 the young son of Joseph A. Califano Jr., Johnson’s top domestic aide, swallowed a bottle of aspirin and was rushed to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. Mr. Califano’s memoir, The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson (1991), tells the story. “The President, frantically trying to reach me...

  • April 7, 2014

    There is a neatly folded Canadian flag in our supply closet, right next to a box of old metal printing plates whose usefulness has long since expired. Astute and longtime readers of this journal will know why. For several decades America was “published by the Jesuits of the United States and Canada.” That was back in the day when America—the place, that is—meant something more than the United States.

  • March 31, 2014

    I had ventured west of Manhattan’s 10th Avenue in order to attend the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, a kind of annual lalapalooza of our coreligionists. Over three days, literally thousands of laypeople, media folks, religious, priests and prelates come together to pray, attend talks, visit booths and enjoy the spectacle—if you’ll excuse the pun—of the masses.

  • March 24, 2014

    The once and future presidential contender Rick Santorum delivered a podium-pounding, populist speech early this month to the Conservative Political Action Conference, urging Republicans to focus their attention on Joe the Plumber and his proletarian brethren if they really want to recapture the White House for the G.O.P. “All we’re talking about is cutting taxes for high-income people—it doesn’t exactly connect emotionally,” said the former Pennsylvania...

  • March 17, 2014

    Political phrases like “anti-choice,” “tax-and-spend,” “liberal” and “conservative” are short currency in political-speak, buzzwords that convey much more than their dictionary definitions and therefore demand our immediate attention. While the modern masters of political spin may have perfected the use of buzzwords, they didn’t invent them. Buzzwords have been with us from the start of political communication. Eighteenth-century American politics also...

  • March 10, 2014

    You might expect a 92-year-old man who has lived through the worst of the 20th century to have a certain gloomy angst about the future of humanity. Not so with Ladislas Orsy, S.J., a world-renowned professor of law at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to these pages. A couple of years back, I had the good fortune to attend a series of lectures Father Orsy gave at Oxford University on the thought of Francisco de Vitoria, O.P., and the...

  • March 3, 2014

    I recently made a pilgrimage to the Ikea in Brooklyn. If I had taken but a second to consult common sense, I would not have gone on a Saturday. The crowds were huge. As I entered the store, I briefly considered turning back. But it had taken me more than a hour just to get to the entrance, so I opted to march forth into the maddening rabble.

  • February 24, 2014

    I lived in London for nearly three years before I set foot in Westminster Abbey. Since the 16th-century English reformations, the Abbey has been the most prominent and cherished place of worship in the Church of England. Americans will know the Abbey from television coverage of the funeral of Princess Diana and the wedding of her son Prince William. The place is a curious admixture of church and state, Catholic and Protestant, self-adulation and...