When Liz Christman mentioned that she was reading Lucy Grayheart, I had to think a moment before I identified it as a Willa Cather novel. Liz went on about how much she was enjoying it and we all listened. No one else at our well-read table had read the novel. In a group made up [...]

When Liz Christman mentioned that she was reading Lucy Grayheart, I had to think a moment before I identified it as a Willa Cather novel. Liz went on about how much she was enjoying it and we all listened. No one else at our well-read table had read the novel. In a group made up [...]

The Quinn Proposals

The debate on the future of the papacy and the Roman Curia launched this past June 29 by the retired archbishop of San Francisco, John Quinn, in a lecture at Campion Hall, the Jesuit residence at Oxford, is unlikely to simmer down anytime soon. For the argument that Archbishop Quinn was making and the debate [...]

Pageantry, suspense, and fascination with moral authority give papal elections irresistible media appeal. Between the death of one pope and the election of his successor the eyes of the world are riveted on the Vatican. But without television spots, rancorous debates, and savage campaigning, how will the next pope be chosen? Neither Scripture nor the [...]

In about 10 A.D. the Roman writer Vitrivus wrote that there are three qualities for good building, “venustas, firmitas et ufilitas" —delight, firmness, and utility. What happens when these criteria are applied to our modern, in-the-round churches? The majority of these churches created in the past twenty years flunk the test of utility and firmness, [...]

The few examples of Christian churches that predate 313 A.D. were private residences. Following the Edict of Milan, issued that year, and the foundation of Constantinople in 330, Emperor Constantine I initiated a campaign to design and construct Christian churches to commemorate the significant landmarks of the Empire's new religion. Over the next century, the [...]

On the evening following the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, September 15, 1996, the Crisis Partnership honored Admiral Jeremiah and Mrs. Jane Denton or service to God, Church, and country at a dinner held at The Carlton in Washington, D.C. In 1996 the Dentons celebrated fifty years of marriage and the fiftieth anniversary [...]

Bad Economics

Ten years ago, the pastoral letter of America's Catholic bishops, Economic Justice for All, was published, and though some troubling passages from earlier drafts were modified, it remained a document that failed to see clearly the limits of economic thinking. Five years later, when the Holy Father's Centesimus Annus arrived, it restored economics to its [...]

Before his recent death, the Jesuit Paul Quay, longtime teacher at Loyola University of Chicago and St. Louis University, finished a work that is being acclaimed as perhaps the finest book of theology written in over a decade. In The Mystery Hidden for Ages in God (Peter Lang, 1995), Quay attempts to "recast the whole [...]

Admiral Jeremiah Denton speaks from the heart about his life, his experience of culture shock upon returning to the United States after eight years in captivity in Vietnam, his struggle to help America recover its character, his love for his wife, and his support for Crisis. The only justification for my standing up here and [...]

Imaging the following: a guest lecturer visits your parish to address the topic, “values for the third millennium.”   He steps to the podium and immediately begins to describe the next one thousand years in such fantastic terms that human values as we have known them will be obsolete. We will need new values, so he [...]

November is a good tie—after Halloween, All Saints, All Souls, and with another presidential election staring us in the face—to think about death. Like many people, I first met death when relatives died, for me, my great-grandparents, whom I was lucky enough to know for a few years. In the late 1950s, people often still [...]

Coming out of their San Diego convention, the Republicans had a shot at regaining the White House—a long shot, to be sure, but by no means impossible. Two months later, on the eve of the election, their hopes of capturing the presidency are nil; they will be lucky to retain control of Congress. True, it [...]

The Editor of this journal has asked me to write columns on matters of insignificance, as a respite from so many pages of profundity. He seemed confident that I am up to such a task. The topics then will not touch upon politics or religion, unless they relate to matters of conspicuous insignificance, like a [...]

My brother, James J. Novak, aged fifty-seven, an independent writer and champion of south Asia, died September 30 at the New York University Medical Center after a fierce six-week struggle against multiple cancers. Born April 19, 1939, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Jim authored the critically acclaimed Bangladesh: Reflections on the Water, a lyrical, yet keenly analytical [...]

It was in the air already at the time of Jack Kennedy. We sensed that the principle was being planted, and it was only a matter of time for the implications to unfold: The Catholic politician would detach himself, become in effect a non-Catholic, and then with small but sure steps become the anti-Catholic in [...]

In 1785, seven-year-old Johann Nepomuk Hummel went with his father to the Schikaneder Theater in Vienna, where his father was the conductor of the orchestra. There Mozart had occasion to hear young Johann play one of Mozart's new piano concertos from memory. So impressed was Mozart, who had some personal experience with wunderkinder, that he [...]

That Liv Ullmann's magnificent film version of Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter has had difficulty finding a distributor in this country is a depressing sign of the sorry state of contemporary cinema that is available to us. Ullmann, who also wrote the screenplay based on the first book of Undset's trilogy, is very successful in capturing [...]

At their November meeting, the American Bishops will vote on an "Application to the United States" of Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church), the Apostolic Constitution of 1990 on Catholic Universities. This document, which established norms to promote orthodoxy in Catholic universities, was welcomed by many as a Magna Carta for Catholic [...]

One evening, during my retreat at an old Jesuit novitiate, I read an unforgettable letter in L'Osservatore Romano, English, June 12, 1996. In it, Dom Bernardo Olivera, the Abbot-General of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance, or Trappists, writes about the brutal, wholly arbitrary murder of seven Trappist monks in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria [...]