Art & Culture


A Subtler Satanism

No knees and no scars from any cross—two distinguishing marks of the devil. Pope Emeritus Benedict reminds us of Satan’s form in a story from the Desert Fathers: “He looked black and ugly, with frighteningly thin limbs, but, most strikingly, he had no knees.” Ven. Fulton Sheen says that “Satan may appear in many disguises [...]

A Subtler Satanism

No knees and no scars from any cross—two distinguishing marks of the devil. Pope Emeritus Benedict reminds us of Satan’s form in a story from the Desert Fathers: “He looked black and ugly, with frighteningly thin limbs, but, most strikingly, he had no knees.” Ven. Fulton Sheen says that “Satan may appear in many disguises [...]

I recently returned from three weeks on the road to find a stack of mail on my doorstep. Amongst the bills and magazines, I found a charming invitation to a Sunday brunch being hosted by a family I had known for several years. They had recently welcomed three new babies to the (extended) family, and [...]

Martin Luther cut a figure of such massive importance that reflections on him are a Rorschach test for theologians and historians alike. In few instances have personality and principle been so melded. If the Dominican Aquinas argued contra and sed contra, the former Augustinian would settle his case by slapping the table: “Dr. Martin Luther [...]

Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart form the great trinity of Western classical composers. Of the three, it is Beethoven whose religious beliefs have proven the most elusive. We know all about the devout Lutheranism of Bach, who wrote his music “for the glory of God and the refreshment of the [...]

In the late autumn of 1888, five women were brutally murdered in Whitechapel, London. All were prostitutes; all were living in squalor; all died horribly in the dead of night. The killings were as vicious as they were to become infamous. They were not the first, nor, indeed, the last, of such slayings in London, [...]

“Education,” wrote Malcolm Muggeridge fifty years ago, “the great fraud and mumbo-jumbo of the age,” had not brought to the mass of men the best that has been done and thought and said, but rather spread ignorance and folly across the land. Muggeridge understood, though he did not feel he needed to say so explicitly, [...]

One of GK Chesterton’s central themes was the necessity of gratitude. Here’s a characteristic passage. All my mental doors open outwards into a world I have not made. My last door of liberty opens upon a world of sun and solid things, of objective adventures. The post in the garden; the thing I neither create [...]

The story of Judah Ben Hur a wealthy, influential Jewish prince betrayed by his friend Massala as he seeks to climb the ranks of Roman power, first appeared as a best-selling novel in 1880 penned by an unlikely writer, retired Civil War general Lew Wallace and was subtitled “A Tale of the Christ.” And the [...]

Just before the 2016 Olympic Games began in Rio, Cardinal Orani Tempesta blessed the Olympic torch at the feet of the Statue of Christ the Redeemer. Images of Jesus with arms extended were beamed into homes around the world. This was not supposed to happen but there it was. Father Omar Raposo, rector at the [...]

“It is not true, as is sometimes said, that man can organize the world without God. What is true is that, without God, he can ultimately only organize it against man. Exclusive humanism is inhuman humanism.”   ∼ Henri de Lubac, The Drama of Atheist Humanism “If God does not exist … everything is permitted.”   ∼ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, [...]

The much-awaited Olympics is now upon us in Rio, a city in a country in a continent mired in unmanageable debt and corruption. Surrounded by poverty-stricken favelas, the city has poured billions into Olympic venues, security, advertising, all to watch a few thousand overhyped young athletes strive to excel at their chosen sport. Don't get me [...]

The age of the "body beautiful" will now become the age of the Assumption.  ∼ Ven. Fulton Sheen “I am empowered by my body,” Kim Kardashian declared back on International Women’s Day, voicing triumph in an infamous nude selfie. In a society that worships the brazen sensuality of the body beautiful while eviscerating any link between [...]

A colleague recently asked me to write for our students about what is euphemistically, and rather incorrectly, known as “swearing.”  We have all perhaps heard our younger siblings yell, "Muuuum! Jimmy swore!" Yet Jimmy did not really “swear,” unless he is beyond his years, or brought into a court of law.  Swearing literally is taking [...]

If the demon you know really is better than the demon you don’t, we might expect on abundant evidence that societal intimacy with lust, pride, greed, envy, wrath, and gluttony would yield some positive results. This is not the case. For we seem only to know the vices, not the virtues. What’s more, we know [...]

The very first lesson that I can recall in my undergraduate degree was on Plato’s Cave. The full meaning and depth of it barely penetrated my consciousness and as soon as I realized it was not "assessable" knowledge, I disregarded what little had sunk in. I lay part of the blame of this apathy on [...]

In public discussion today, expertise has acquired the authority once held by good sense. The change reflects a change in attitudes toward society and politics. Educated, influential, and well-placed people now want a society run by global markets, financial institutions, and public administration based on supposedly neutral expertise. As such people's response to Brexit shows, [...]

For decades, now, Christians have worried about the progressive push to strip naked the public square by forcing religion into the shadows of a private sphere. Recent events have made clear that this is not the case. Everything is public and political to the secular left. All aspects of our lives are fair game in [...]

What’s happened to the world? Even a quick glance at the newsfeeds will confirm it: times are dark, full of spiritual confusions and physical dangers. Sweeping judicial fiats have redefined the nature of human relationships with a speed, boldness, and radicalness that even Comrade O’Brien might find injudicious; educational revisionists now baldly proclaim their utilitarian [...]

“What are we going to do?” asked the Professor. “At this moment,” said Syme, with a scientific detachment, “I think we are going to smash into a lamppost.” ~ G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare By all accounts, this has been a strange campaign season, and it’s only going to get stranger, so [...]

With personal endorsements from Hillary Clinton, Arianna Huffington and Melinda Gates, the Princeton professor, Anne-Marie Slaughter, is well-connected. With reviews of her recent book Unfinished Business in The Financial Times, The Observer, The Economist, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Slate, The Telegraph and The Guardian, she must be saying something interesting. She is a professor [...]

When we look back on the Third Crusade (1189-1192) it is all but impossible not to be struck by how close King Richard and the Christian host came to decisively defeating Saladin and re-taking Jerusalem. Twice during the campaign—in January 1192 and again in July 1192—the crusaders advanced to within a dozen or so miles [...]