03/01/2001

Amanda, age 30—I've changed her name and those of other women I interviewed for this story in order to protect their privacy—is a daughter of the sexual revolution. Her mother taught her that "sex was free, and successful motherhood could be accomplished through good intentions," she says. Sexual freedom and successful motherhood, Amanda learned, meant [...]

Amanda, age 30—I've changed her name and those of other women I interviewed for this story in order to protect their privacy—is a daughter of the sexual revolution. Her mother taught her that "sex was free, and successful motherhood could be accomplished through good intentions," she says. Sexual freedom and successful motherhood, Amanda learned, meant [...]

Almost every year since 1989, I have been teaching the Arts and Letters Core Course at the University of Notre Dame, an introduction to the liberal arts curriculum that is required of all undergraduates in the College of Arts and Letters. This yearlong seminar includes a variety of readings grouped around four major themes: "nature," [...]

Santa Fe, New Mexico... Tradition has it that the full name given to this city by the Spaniards was La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis (the Royal City of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi). This high-plains city of brilliant sun, thin air, and blue skies in [...]

Does America really need religion? I believe this question is of supreme importance for our country as we begin the 21st century. We live in a time of unprecedented prosperity, with our material wealth unquestionably at an all-time high, while the morals of our nation show signs of serious erosion. And, even as the majority [...]

Lenten days bring two images immediately to mind, at least to my own idle mind. The first is of the bishops' gathering that first established Lent in 325 during the great ecumenical council in the Turkish town of Isnik—then called Nicaea. Some of the bishops there had been mutilated in the persecutions of the emperors [...]

The changes in the liturgy since Vatican II are so striking that many of my lapsed-Catholic friends who recently have started to attend Mass again after many years feel it is no longer the same Church. For one, the content of homilies has changed radically since the Second Vatican Council: hardly any mention of hell, [...]

A senior adviser at the White House asked me, as publisher of a Catholic magazine, to put together a group of prominent Catholics to meet with President George W. Bush and discuss his administration's new emphasis on faith-based social services. There was a reason for the request: Those who know anything about private charities—and that [...]

Media preoccupation with the fluff of a presidential inauguration masks the constitutional gravity of the occasion. On January 20, the presidency passed peaceably from the leader of one political party to the leader of the opposition, following a hotly contested, photo-finish election. Of the many wondrous effects of the framers' constitutional genius, surely, this is [...]

Most Hollywood movies remind me of Hugh Kenner's definition of conceptual art: Once described, it need not be experienced. Nice middle-class white ballet student transfers to an inner-city high school, where she meets a bright young black dude who knows all the latest hip-hop moves. Need I say more? As soon as you've heard the [...]

Americans bought two billion books last year, more than seven for every man, woman, child, and alternatively gendered reader from sea to shining sea. The jubilant purveyors of these figures reassure us that only a quarter of those books were "mass-market paper-backs"—which is to say, typeset trash. But why the fact that a mere half-billion [...]

Last month, I wrote about the rough treatment American composer George Rochberg received from the artistic "community" when he turned away from systematized cacophony toward tonality in the 1970s. "Why is George writing beautiful music?" asked one shocked colleague. "That's already been done." Rochberg felt an arctic blast familiar to many other American composers who, [...]

At a place with the name "Catholic University of America," you would think there would be no such thing as being "too Catholic." Not so: The Washington, D.C.-based university is in its second year of a nasty in-house battle that is ostensibly over a search for a new permanent dean for its law school but [...]

Different hemispheres of the brain govern intuitive artistry and inductive science. Atrophy of one of the lobes can cause either effete aestheticism or nerdish scientism. One dead lobe creates the National Endowment for the Arts, and another dead one creates Planned Parenthood. The ancients did not distinguish between parts of the brain—or the separate realms [...]

The Judeo-Christian God, Yahweh, seems off-base in denying some proper place for other gods in the first three of the ten commandments. All religions and philosophies are said to be created equal. Yahweh, however, is not ecumenical. What is this aberration about our God that He demands exclusiveness? Why can we not worship multiple gods? [...]

Reading other people's letters has its joys, but how much more intriguing to read their diaries or journals. Perhaps I should explain. Once upon a time, people wrote letters to one another by putting pen to paper—often after having first written a rough draft—folding the page, putting it in an envelope, and entrusting it to [...]

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