April 6, 2015
Almost 15 years ago, St. John Paul II surprised the Catholic world by introducing a new set of mysteries to the Rosary. In case you’re unfamiliar with the tradition, there are certain events from the lives of Mary and Jesus that you can meditate on as you recite the Rosary. First are the joyful mysteries, like the Annunciation and the Visitation; then the sorrowful mysteries, like the Crucifixion; and finally, the glorious mysteries, like the Assumption of...
March 30, 2015
Every day our attention is caught by stories in the news. Usually, the thoughts they occasion are fleeting. Sometimes the impression is more long lasting and they linger for days. One such story for me is that of the three schoolgirls in Britain who on Feb. 17 left their comfortable middle-class lives to fly off to Turkey and from there make their way to Syria to join the Islamic State.
March 23, 2015
One night William Stringfellow dreamed that he was stabbed with a knife on 125th Street in Harlem, at the hands of a black man who had asked him for a light. Stringfellow then lived in Harlem not far from there. He was a white man who graduated from Harvard Law School and, in 1956, promptly put his training to use in the streets. He was doing his part. Yet it was clear to him in the dream, he later wrote, that “the murder was retribution.” Further: “No white man is innocent.”
March 9, 2015
You’re a fan of Bob Dylan, right? But not really. You’re a fan of his music. You prefer covers by Adele, Johnny Cash, The Byrds or Joan Baez, because you don’t much care for Dylan’s voice. And if you’re like most people, you think Bob Dylan is sort of a jerk.
March 2, 2015
The one subject guaranteed to start fireworks today is children. Hence the pyrotechnics whenever Pope Francis talks of rabbits, sterility or contraception. Judging from my 16 years teaching family law, the law struggles with children too, for reasons similar to why individuals do.
February 23, 2015
One of the biggest surprises during my time at America came in 1995, when I was a Jesuit scholastic. Christopher Hitchens, the atheist and author who has since died, had just published a book-length attack on Blessed Teresa of Calcutta entitled The Missionary Position. Mr. Hitchens had received a great deal of attention for accusing Mother Teresa of accepting contributions from corrupt politicians. One of our senior editors, the late...
February 9, 2015
A few years ago, I read The United States and Torture, a collection of essays by lawyers, historians, journalists and scholars edited by Marjorie Cohn, a professor of law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. I had kept abreast of the news and thought I was up to snuff on the subject, but The United States and Torture showed me there was more to learn than I had ever imagined.
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...