Roman Empire

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 [...]

Apologizing for Love … of Country

The stone and marble arches that dot Yale’s landscape can sometimes transport you back in time. Athens. Rome. Or even Jerusalem. Etched on the arched gates of the many residential colleges read the words, “For God, For Country, and For Yale.” It is surprising that the inscriptions still stand today. Over the past six months [...]

Putting the “Roman” Back in “Roman Catholic”

O, the glories of a classical education! I spent part of this past summer attempting to supplement my classical deficiencies (what I received in college was partial and patchy) by perusing Cicero's philosophical essays in English and plodding through parts of Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy in the original Latin, dictionary in hand. In doing so, [...]

The Resurrection Difference

At the Yorktown surrender in 1781, the British band played a tune traditional to the ballad “The World Turned Upside Down.” In the 1640s the ballad had been written as a broadside against the suppression of Christmas festivities by the Puritan parliament. In some ways, the world had indeed been turned upside down, at least [...]

The Sacredness of Marriage: A Lesson from the Pagans

When the press falsely quoted Cardinal Raymond Burke last May as stating that the Irish were “worse” than the pagans for having passed a referendum recognizing same-sex “marriage,” they missed an opportunity to offer a valuable lesson in history. What His Eminence actually said—namely, that while the “pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviors, they never [...]

Saint Nero, Patron of Gay Marriage

Regard this essay as a qualified mea culpa. I have long maintained that there is no point in arguing against “gay marriage,” because there are no arguments for it. To argue that a “homosexual” has no right to marry another man is not unlike arguing that a unicorn has no right to be a computer [...]

The Soul of a Gibbon

In the center of Rome stands the Capitoline Hill: the heart of the ancient city, where the temples of Jupiter, Juno, and Virtus once dominated the skyline. It was the site of the treachery of Tarpeia, and the settlement of the Sabines. It was the one part of the city that did not fall to [...]

The Role of the Virtues in Character Education

In Aesop’s fable of the miller, his son, and the donkey, the trio are criticized by passersby as they make their way to town, first for not riding the donkey, then for making the young son walk, then for leaving the elderly father to walk, and then for overburdening the donkey. After each critique, they [...]

William Morris as Inspiration for Tolkien’s Literary Art

Most of those involved in Tolkien fandom, at any rate, know that William Morris exerted a profound literary effect on the development of The Lord of the Rings.  This is most evident, in the case of The House of the Wolfings, in the way that both works are organized as prose narratives with lengthy intervals [...]

The Church that Converted Khans

The Assyrian Church of the East, an apostolic Church found primarily in Iraq today, cannot boast of any attraction as spectacular as the Ark of the Covenant, the pride of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. However, it does boast The Book of Protection, a collection of prayers and charms that they say the angels gave [...]

Ranking the “Top Ten” Popes

Ten Popes Who Shook the World by Eamon Duffy, Yale University Press, 136 pages, $25   Eamon Duffy is an eminent scholar of the English Reformation and Professor of the History of Christianity at Cambridge University. In a succinct volume, Ten Popes Who Shook  the World, he explains how each of these popes met the [...]

Pompeii snack bar reopens for business

Good news for the hungry tourists of Pompeii: Vetutius Placidus' snack bar is reopening after extensive renovations. This being Italy, the work took almost 1900 years. Three hundred specially invited guests are to taste the delights of Roman fast food in the thermopolium (that’s snack bar to you and me) in a special ceremony to [...]

Bread, Circuses, Nature, and Grace

The front page of the October 7 edition of the Sunday New York Times featured an article that described how certain Protestant denominations have been using Microsoft's rapaciously popular video game Halo 3 to lure youths to church. They promise the avid youngster large screen televisions and multiple control options so he and his friends [...]

MENU