2003

Some time ago, my kids got a computer game called Myst. It's a very curious game—there are no instructions, no rules, and no commentary offered at the beginning. You find yourself plunked down into a strange environment on a mysterious island. You don't know where you are or why you're there. As you look around, [...]

Some time ago, my kids got a computer game called Myst. It's a very curious game—there are no instructions, no rules, and no commentary offered at the beginning. You find yourself plunked down into a strange environment on a mysterious island. You don't know where you are or why you're there. As you look around, [...]

As an advocate of the Intelligent Design movement, I'm very often confronted with the following rather pointed criticism: "Well, if the world is designed, then we've got to blame the designer for all of the evil in it, don't we? Backaches and headaches, cancer, cats playing with mice, parasites, floods, Nazis, slavery, starving children—the whole [...]

Because my parents' marriage failed early, I spent my childhood with my great-aunt Mamie Schlumbrecht and her husband, Albert, on a five-acre chicken farm outside Abita Springs, Louisiana. Abita, which is about 35 miles north of New Orleans in St. Tammany Parish, is now a chic town—the famous home of an excellent micro-brewed beer. But [...]

"O good Jesu enlighten me with the shining of inner light..." —Thomas a Kempis ...lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero... [...Light from Light, true God from true God...] These few words from the Nicene Creed capture the essence of the luminous mysteries. On October 16, 2002, John Paul II announced in an apostolic [...]

Apparitions of the Virgin Mary traditionally appear to children or other innocent souls. But in Brian Moore's Cold Heaven, a novel set mostly in well-heeled Carmel, California, it's Marie Davenport, an adulteress, who receives the vision. Marie has just checked into the Point Lobos Motor Inn to meet her lover, Dr. Daniel Bailey, and is [...]

During the November meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington, D.C., the president of Call to Action presented the bishops with a letter from 6,000 Catholics asking that celibacy become optional for the priesthood. Their motivation, as quoted in USA Today, was to make the Eucharist more widely available. Sounds [...]

The good news is that Americans remain solid in their opposition to partial-birth abortion. In late October, their elected representatives for the fourth time in the past decade voted to ban that barbaric practice. The bad news is that the law was immediately blocked by a Nebraska federal judge. Indeed, even before President Bush had [...]

I generally don't like books with titles such as An Intelligent Person's Guide to Religion, Scottish philosopher John Haldane's latest (Duckworth). Even when well done, they tend to encourage the habitual and snotty arrogance about sheer intelligence that today is both widespread and pernicious. Other treatments are fine for the middling masses that did not [...]

Clint Eastwood has directed two dozen films since 1971, all of them wholly professional and some quite good. No mere star, however huge he may be at the box office, gets to make that many movies unless he knows exactly what he's doing behind the camera. Yet I don't know anybody who thinks of Eastwood [...]

Last Christmas, I recommended a number of seasonal works beyond Handel's Messiah (which is an Easter oratorio, anyway). They included pieces by Frank Martin, Gabriel Pierne, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Pablo Casals, and, of course, Bach. Now, I shall go further afield in search of musical myrrh. Arthur Honegger (1892-1955) was a Swiss composer, thought by [...]

When I was at school, my friends had sensible names, names rooted in the land, names their grandparents bore. Names like Charles, Guy, and Ian (which my French friends pronounced "Eye-an"). The girls were called Portia, Sophie, and Honor. Names meant something then. Names always mean something. That's why we gave up on regular names. [...]

Activist Supreme Court justices increasingly are looking past our borders to England, France, Canada, and the permissive laws of other states to determine how they interpret our Constitution. Their policy aim is to remodel America in Western Europe's image—a secularized society that devalues civic virtue. To accomplish this, they overstep their constitutional bounds and, instead [...]

Call her Miss Irwin, for in the nearly ten years she was my parish secretary I never heard anyone, save her brother, call her Caroline. It was as if "Miss" was the name bestowed with the lustral waters of the Methodist Church whose hymnodic fellowship she left in youth to embrace Anglicanism, which the Methodists [...]

Some months ago, I read an essay of the English Dominican Vincent McNabb (1868-1943). In it, McNabb recalled his own family, his parents with eleven children, their Christmas in Ireland. The children received few gifts for Christmas. But, he thought, each of his brothers and sisters was a gift. A gift, after all, is a [...]

In the brochures that bombard one through the years, sleek, silver-haired couples sit on the Florida sands smiling into the sunset as they contemplate the accumulated pile of money on which they sit. They are retired, a condition for which they wisely planned over their working years so now they can enjoy carefree indolence as [...]

"The lunatic is on the grass. The lunatic is on the grass." It was an hour before midnight. Ten-year-old James was in his bedroom, alone, when he was suddenly gripped by terror. A Pink Floyd song rang out through the empty room. The radio turned on by itself. "The lunatic is on the grass. The [...]

Last September, addressing the Religious Newswriters Association, Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), criticized media coverage of the sexual-abuse scandals, saying that "the way the story was so obsessively covered resulted in unnecessary damage to the bishops and the entire Catholic community." Everyone has his favorite example of [...]

Three years ago I mentioned to a Catholic friend that I was starting to work on a book critiquing the Left Behind novels. I explained that it would thoroughly examine premillennial dispensationalism, the unique apocalyptic belief system presented, in fictional format, within those books. Premillennial dispensationalism teaches that the "Rapture" and the Second Coming are [...]

During the past six or seven centuries, succeeding pontiffs have repeatedly invited the separated Eastern Churches to return to communion with Rome. The few responses from the East have been negative—with only one exception, as far as I can determine. One member of an Eastern Orthodox Church responded positively in print... a Russian Orthodox layman [...]

It's very rare that I praise a socialist, but we're approaching a time when Robert Blatchford should be feted. Blatchford was a British reformer who was active from 1890 to 1920. He converted to socialism after witnessing the misery in the slums of Manchester and started his own paper, the Clarion, in 1891. Yet Blatchford [...]

The television and radio interviews are already taped and waiting to be broadcast. The passing of Pope John Paul II will unleash a media spin on his papacy guaranteed to make you nauseous: This was a pope who cared about the poor but did not engage in dialogue, a pope who traveled the world to [...]

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