American

The New Secular Puritan Covenant

Thanksgiving brings back memories for Americans of the Pilgrims and Puritans, carrying out their “errand into the wilderness” to build a “city on a hill,” surviving that first bleak Massachusetts winter of 1620-21. As a kid, I remember that cutting out Puritan hats from black construction paper and taping them to the school windows was [...]

Beyond Newspaper Chewing: Why it Matters What is Read in High School (Part I of II)

In many American high schools, the teaching of literature is in the sere and yellow leaf. One reason for this decay is the unsatisfactory quality of many programs of reading; another is the limited knowledge of humane letters possessed by some well-intentioned teachers, uncertain of what books they ought to select for their students to [...]

Odium Naturae: The Thread of Madness

In the 1980’s, at the height of his influence among American bishops, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago, alluding to the robe of Jesus for which the Roman soldiers cast lots, proposed that Catholics treat a host of political issues as one.  The “seamless garment” of respect for human life, for the Cardinal, implied opposition to [...]

The Apostle of the Upper Midwest: Samuel Mazzuchelli

A traveler in Wisconsin need not stray far from the Interstate before he gets a good sense of the wild and uncut territory that greeted the explorers, traders, and missionary priests who first brought European civilization and its Faith to the American Midwest. To the freshly ordained Samuel Mazzuchelli, O.P., the untamed Wisconsin Frontier of [...]

Preparing for a Post-Imperial Future

Conservatism is poorly understood in the United States. It is not right-wing liberalism or nationalism; nor is it political Protestantism. It has nothing to do with a neurotic longing for an ideal past, and reactionaries, who insist there is nothing left to conserve, show that they don’t know the meaning of the word. Conservatism has [...]

Illusions and Realities: The Pope Dissents Too

That Americans should beware of materialism, consumerism, and excessive individualism was one of Pope John Paul II's major themes on his second visit to America. The pope lives in Europe, and Europeans have long held that Americans are peculiarly materialistic. The great and wise Catholic philosopher, Jacques Maritain, ambassador of France to the Holy See, [...]

“Peace, Peace” — And There Is No Peace

The Churches and Modern Political Violence Mr. Weigel's essay was originally delivered to a conference on "Deception and Deterrence in 'Wars of National Liberation,' State—Sponsored Terrorism, and Other Forms of Secret Warfare," sponsored by the American Bar Association. There is, in a sense, something odd about inviting a theologian (even one engaged in the public [...]

This Home of Freedom: A Pastoral Letter

In the trinitarian life of God, "a thousand years are like yesterday, come and gone, no more than a watch in the night." [Psalm 90:41] For us, living between the revelation of God in the creation and in Christ's redemption, but before the final triumph of God's purpose in the Kingdom to come, time is [...]

Quodlibets: The Return of J. F. Powers

The current issue of Critic magazine (no relation) features statements by various authors on their current projects and among the welcome news is that J. F. Powers has finished an as yet untitled new novel. I sometimes fear that a generation of Catholics has grown up without even knowing of Powers. In a way, this [...]

What Divides America From Europe? The Rule of Law.

There is something particularly exhilarating in looking at one's own country as it is reflected in the mirror of another culture. And there are special opportunities for such enhanced vision when an American is overseas during a turbulent episode in the political life of the United States. I was in Italy for most of December [...]

A Bad Penny: Richard McBrien Trivializes Politics and Religion

In the first sentence of Caesar’s Coin: Religion and Politics in America (Macmillan, 294 pp., $19.95) Richard P. McBrien misquotes Lincoln. The error is only a trifling one; it alters neither the meaning of the president’s words nor Father McBrien’s application of them. But the resonances of the Gettysburg Address are so familiar to every [...]

“Built Wiser Than They Knew” The Constitution and the Wealth of Nations

By a stroke of genius, the film The Name of the Rose (like the book itself) casts that fourteenth-century Sherlock Holmes and early Whig, the English monk Baskerville (Sean Connery), as a Dominican friar in the order of St. Thomas Aquinas. From the very first moments, Baskerville is committed to being attentive, to being engaged [...]

Starting Over: Catholic Higher Education Flourishes in California

Now that the Department of Education suggests we go to school to the Japanese for light on teaching and learning there is no longer any doubt that this country is in steep decline. Because Americans could no longer make cars, our autobah-nen are full of Hondas. We are also growing dumber by degrees and Johnnie [...]

Secularism in Public Schools

One of the most hotly debated issues of the day is whether the religion of the public schools is Secularism. When the Supreme Court forbade the teaching of the traditional religions in public schools, did it, in doing so, establish religious neutrality? Or did it effectively establish a new religion called Secularism? In compliance with [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

A recent trip to study the Italian lay movement Communion and Liberation led me to consider the self-imposed limits that most lay Catholics in the United States place on faith-inspired actions in American society and politics. It is time for lay Catholics in this country to establish a concrete Christian presence that will provoke a [...]

Documentation: America, the World, and Our Schools

Does the larger world have a place in American education, in education for democratic citizenship? I believe that it does. In fact, it always has. To cite a great 19th-century educator by the name of Abraham Lincoln, every American's schooling should equip him "to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which [...]

Quodlibets: Succeeding To Fail

When Herman Melville died, he left the manuscript of a novella, Billy Budd. He had not written fiction for years, but had used the time left him from his duties as a customs inspector in the Port of New York to write verse which is not universally held in high esteem, but for which I [...]

Illusions and Realities: The Bishops and The Entrepreneurs

Last December 22, before the Joint Economic Committee on Economics of the U.S. Congress, Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland of Milwaukee revealed a strange understanding of enterprise. Senator William Proxmire and Congressman David R. Obey, both from Wisconsin, listened to the Archbishop. When Chairman Obey asked the Archbishop about some views of the lay commission headed [...]

Quodlibets: Borges Redux

The image he invited of himself was that of a wraithlike figure, moving among the stacks of a great library, no longer sure of the difference between what he reads and the rest of reality. "El universo (que otros llaman la Biblioteca) se compone . . ." ["The universe (which others call the library) is [...]

The Right to Life and the Restoration of the American Republic

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States inaugurated not only the American experiment, but also one of the great economic booms in history. Americans moved West and South, labored North and East to till the soil, build roads, finance banks, invest in new technologies, discover new methods of farming, mining, and [...]

Academic Freedom and the Vatican: Will Catholic Universities Capitulate?

The new Code of Canon Law, promulgated in 1983, prescribes (canons 807-814) that no university or institute of higher studies may call itself Catholic without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority; that the teachers appointed excel in integrity of doctrine and uprightness of life; that teachers be dismissed if they lack these requirements; and [...]

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