Of Many Things
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.”
July 21-28, 2014
A mere 100 years ago this summer, miscalculation and madness brought forth the War to End All Wars, the first of the 20th century’s twin cataclysms and humankind’s gruesome introduction to total warfare on a global scale. In the opinion of Europe’s intelligentsia at the time, it was not supposed to have happened. As Barbara Tuchman points out in The Guns of August, her masterly account of the initial months of World War I, enlightenment values and...
July 7-14, 2014
Last week, while attending the Catholic Media Convention in Charlotte, N.C., I was lucky enough to catch “Freedom Riders” on my hotel room television set. This PBS documentary from 2012 tells the story of the brave Americans who in 1961 risked their lives just to travel together on buses and trains through the segregated Deep South.
June 23-30, 2014
The smoking gun had been fired on July 23, 1972, during an oval office conversation between President Richard M. Nixon and H. R. Haldeman, the flat-topped former Eagle Scout Mr. Nixon had chosen for White House chief of staff. The two men were discussing the bungled burglary of the Democratic National Committee two months earlier, a scandal that had come to be known as Watergate, after the name of the Washington, D.C., complex that housed the D.N.C....