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  • It has been four years since three activists entered a nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Under the cover of early morning darkness, an octogenarian Catholic nun, along with a house painter and a Vietnam veteran, crested a low pine ridge and walked onto the Y-12 National Security Complex, supposedly one of the most secure sites in the world. Using bolt cutters purchased at Target for $25, they snipped through three fences, hung peace banners and spray-painted...

  • The Salvador Option: The United States in El Salvador, 1977-1992 takes its name from a debate 10 years ago about how to stop the Sunni insurgency from gaining the upper hand in Iraq. American generals, politicians and pundits, following well-trod tradition, dusted off manuals from the “last war” to find solutions.

    El Salvador was the largest U.S. counterinsurgency effort before the current conflicts and after Vietnam. For 12 years,...

  • Cathleen Kaveny is one of this country’s most renowned public intellectuals focusing on the intersection of religion, law and morality. Kaveny’s work as an ethicist is interdisciplinary. She connects the dots between history and political theory, law and jurisprudence, philosophy and theology. She is a prolific scholar with a keen aptitude for knowing what to focus on and when to speak. She also understands the duty of writing for a wider public than those fortunate...

  • December 5-12, 2016

    From 2000 to 2002, the Lilly Endowment undertook an ambitious program for the reform of American college education. Initiated by the religious division of the foundation, the effort was directed toward specific church-related careers and called the Program for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (P.T.E.V.). It approached nearly 400 institutions to submit proposals for the project, and it eventually muted the theological direction by broadening “vocation” to “a...

  • December 5-12, 2016

    Yes, Peter O’Toole did have a life after “Lawrence of Arabia.” And before, too. But most casual moviegoers would be hard pressed to add many entries to his biography—although, with a little time to think about it, they might come up with “Becket,” in which he played opposite Richard Burton, and “Lion in Winter,” in which he crossed verbal swords with Katherine Hepburn. His other starring performances, competent as they were, have passed quietly out of the public...

  • December 5-12, 2016

    “How do they keep going?”

    That is the hard question hanging over the decades-long public witness of Daniel and Philip Berrigan—in particular, the years of grinding punishment the brothers endured for their shocks to the conscience, whether napalming Vietnam draft files or anointing nuclear weapons with blood after symbolically disarming them with blows from a household hammer.

    I first heard the...

  • November 28, 2016

    Cardinal Walter Kasper, an accomplished German theologian who has written at least 15 books in ecclesiology and Christology, has become known in recent years as the “pope’s theologian.” His latest book, "The Catholic Church," sheds light on why Pope Francis has relied on his theological contributions and calls upon him with confidence. This magnum opus in the area of ecclesiology consistently shows great respect for tradition and orthodox theology while also...

  • November 28, 2016

    In her preface to the recent reissue of Myles Connolly’s Mr. Blue by Cluny Classics, Mary Connolly Breiner, his daughter, poses two immediate challenges to a reader of the novel (let alone a reviewer). First is her assertion that Pope Francis ( Pope Francis! ) would love the character of Blue (imagining them as “true brothers in spirit”). Second is that the novel’s tale of Christian/spiritual self-sacrifice competing against the forces of selfish, “business world”...

  • November 21, 2016

    Who was Richard Nixon? The question might seem absurd on the face of it, particularly for those who grew up in the 1970s. We saw Nixon as a kind of colossus—the shadowy figure whose triumph (the olive branch to China, historic re-election landslide in 1972) and fall (the disgrace of Watergate, threat of impeachment and ultimate resignation) were touchstones of an era.

    Yet 2016 is a good moment to consider Nixon. Seventy years ago,...

  • November 21, 2016

    After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many Americans wondered, “Why do they hate us?” Answers suggesting that perhaps U.S. policies in the region had generated the plotters’ hostility only increased the befuddlement, which soon morphed into fear and anger. Politicians turned those simmering resentments into policy proposals of exclusion and cultural conflict, drawing on well-worn stereotypes about Islam and Arabs. The call by the Republican presidential...