February 2, 2015
For a country whose politicians make so much of “family values,” it’s perplexing that the United States remains the only industrialized country on the planet with no requirement for paid parental leave. Parents not lucky enough to have a job that offers a few paid weeks off must choose between those vital first days with their newborns and the paycheck that provides for them. Since our health care system is still largely tied to full-time work, a parent who...
January 19-26, 2015
Among the charming figures of New York City civic life in recent decades has been Joseph O’Hare, S.J., who served as editor in chief of America from 1975 to 1984 and as president of Fordham University from 1984 to 2003. Anyone who knows Father O’Hare (now living back in his native Bronx) can attest that he is also a world-class raconteur. Among his tales is one about his father, also Joe O’Hare, and my grandfather, Michael Keane, fellow Irishmen who...
December 22-29, 2014
Most Americans probably think that Catholics talk about the subject of the relationship between men and women to the point of exhaustion. But we don’t. We have rather peered into every corner of their sex lives and by turns gossiped and wrung our hands over couples’ failure to gel or their falling apart. As to the natural and divine significance of the fact that there are two sexes, drawn to one another in a one-flesh bond? As for this being the origin of...
December 8-15, 2014
During my retreat this year, I broke a longstanding rule. Many years ago, when I was a Jesuit novice, my first spiritual director counseled that the only books one should read during a retreat (other than those in the Bible) are lives of the saints. Other spiritual reading, he felt—particularly books on prayer—may tempt you from actually praying. There is great wisdom in that: reading about prayer is usually easier than praying.
December 1, 2014
What makes for a good life? I’ve been asking people that recently, and I’ve been surprised by some of the answers. The most unexpected came from an 87-year-old lapsed Catholic, who said: “I think a good life is one where you find out who you really are. We are all so different. ”
November 17, 2014
Marcia Lee plants community everywhere she goes.
November 10, 2014
Among the many masterful moments in J. F. Powers’s 1962 novel Morte D’Urban is a Sunday afternoon party where the protagonist, Father Urban, tries to interrupt an argument between two businessmen about the parable of the unjust steward (Lk 16:1-13). Father Urban steps in: “I’ll grant it’s a difficult text, but rightly understood....” But he has nowhere to go from there. In fact, he himself finds Jesus’ teaching rather hard to stomach.
November 3, 2014
Like many people, I hear the words of Pope Francis as an invitation to query what new things the Holy Spirit is doing today. There must be a million ways to structure this inquiry, a million lenses. I’m not choosing the most common lens—what Francis might mean for the institutional church—but rather what he might mean for a personal call to holiness. Like many people, I am a middle-class North American spouse and parent, in a country with a troubling amount of fragmentation and want. My...
October 20, 2014
As many as 300,000 people marched in New York on Sept. 21 to call for the United Nations to take action on climate change—four times the number that organizers predicted. In the interfaith bloc, behind a wooden ark on wheels and a giant inflatable mosque, I marched and sang with nuns and seminarians, friends and strangers, sharing our love for the planet we all have in common.
October 13, 2014
Its new war on the Islamic State puts the United States in the middle of the multiplying fault lines in the Middle East. Polls show that most Americans support it but doubt it will be any more successful than our previous war in Iraq, which bred instability and the Sunni jihadists overrunning Syria and Iraq whom we are now seeking to destroy. I turned to an array of Mideast scholars and experts to learn more about the mission the United States has set itself...