02/01/2001

In America we've managed to do something extraordinary: We've managed to make marriage, the most basic of all social institutions, controversial. In the last 50 years, differing ideologies have taken up the campaign against marriage, sometimes directly, often more subtly. But lately, the war on marriage has taken a disturbing new turn that threatens to [...]

In America we've managed to do something extraordinary: We've managed to make marriage, the most basic of all social institutions, controversial. In the last 50 years, differing ideologies have taken up the campaign against marriage, sometimes directly, often more subtly. But lately, the war on marriage has taken a disturbing new turn that threatens to [...]

Go to the religion section of any major book chain, and under the label "Catholic" you are likely to find Garry Wills's Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit. It is certainly one of the most provocative attacks on the Catholic Church to appear in many years, and it is likely to become a standard resource for [...]

For many Catholics, including me, the lowest point of the week is the sermon at Sunday mass. Hell isn’t the place where the priest who’s preaching the homily says you might go—it’s the homily itself. Here's a sample opener from the kind of sermon I'm talking about: "This morning, as I was doing my laundry, [...]

If you believe the rhetoric of Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State since 1992, America in 2001 is like Iran in 1979,when the mullahs prepared to launch their reign of Islamic fundamentalist terror. Lynn and Americans United would have us believe that religious conservatives represent the greatest danger [...]

Next to evangelical Protestants, Catholics are the biggest concern on Americans United for Separation of Church and State's agenda. This is not surprising, given that much of Americans United's historical purposes was to combat what was feared to be growing Catholic influence in public life during the post-World War II period and the 1950s. Here [...]

The 200 bishops attending last year's spring meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops reacted with considerable alarm to a report that the average age of diocesan priests is 57 and of priests in religious orders is 63. (The average age for women religious is over 70.) When the bishops' discussion turned toward the [...]

From dramatic orchestral scores to big-band tunes to the sacred sounds of a Latin Mass, the prolific work of composer Steve Edwards can hardly be categorized in a single style. In June 2000, philanthropist Thomas S. Monaghan commissioned Edwards to compose an orchestral Mass in honor of the Chapels of Ave Maria at Domino's Farms [...]

The Heard Word

Audiobooks revive a literary tradition that's even older than reading. Homer, the first great poet of the West, wasn't a writer but a performer, with the dining halls of ancient Greece as his stage. Before the advent of written literature, the medium of poetry was dramatic utterance and song. Eyes were no more necessary to [...]

My family of three—my wife, Theresa, my twelve-year- old daughter, Hannah, and I—will fly to Eastern Europe next month and become four. Waiting for us is a four-year-old boy named Cyprian who needs a permanent family. From his pictures he looks like a young Omar Shariff, with dark hair and eyes and gleaming cheekbones: just [...]

Booker T. Ashe was a man to be reckoned with. You will not find his name in Who's Who in America or in any other place where the self- important bask in one another's reflected glory. But in the inner city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, if you listen carefully, you can still hear his laughter. His [...]

The cultural elite holds happy endings in contempt. Christians know better, but they also know that not every story ends happily and that the road to such endings may be frighteningly bumpy. They know, too, that not all happy endings are self- evident. To a mortal eye, grace can look very much like agony and [...]

One of the great philosophical gossips of all time, Diogenes Laertius, reports a pointed conversation that took place in the ancient world. Someone, he says, once asked a certain Arcesilaus why it was that people from various philosophical schools moved to Epicureanism, but no Epicurean ever converted to another philosophy. Arcesilaus replied tersely: "Because men [...]

The Civil War was raging, and a Confederate sentry heard the sound of a voice coming from marshland behind enemy lines—or so the story goes. The sentry aimed his rifle at a Union soldier who was singing. The tune was possibly John Bacchus Dykes's Hillingside, first published in 1861 but already quite well-known. More likely, [...]

The Crisis Columnist B.F. Smith was in Washington from Atherton, California, with her daughter Whitney, once a student at Georgetown University, where I teach. They were visiting their Pentagon-stationed son/brother. Knowing Smith's almost infallible instinct for precise language (her daughter is not far behind), I asked her, "What is the most common verb appearing on [...]

When I was in graduate school, a fellow student confided in me that his great ambition was to become a Thomistic poet. Something of the alarm I felt then returned when I came upon a recent book by Dominique Millet-Gerard titled Claudel thomiste? (Was [French poet Paul] Claudel a Thomist Philosopher?). My reaction was not [...]

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