2003

When Justice Harry Blackmun and his Supreme Court colleagues delivered up Roe v. Wade 30 years ago, they seem to have believed that judicialization would tame the abortion controversy. Removing the debate from the heat of the political arena to the cool deliberation of the courtroom would clarify the issues and calm people down. The [...]

When Justice Harry Blackmun and his Supreme Court colleagues delivered up Roe v. Wade 30 years ago, they seem to have believed that judicialization would tame the abortion controversy. Removing the debate from the heat of the political arena to the cool deliberation of the courtroom would clarify the issues and calm people down. The [...]

One of the most telling features about our memory of the recent past has been the almost total lack of attention to the victims of Communism. In fact, a group created to erect a memorial to those victims on the mall in Washington has been fighting a steep uphill battle. It is not surprising that [...]

One of the most surprising, even paradoxical aspects of film is its intimacy. You wouldn't think a medium that shows us two-dimensional pictures of 50-foot-tall people would be so good at conveying the smallest idiosyncrasies of human personality—but in fact, film acting requires far more nuance than stage acting, precisely because the ability of the [...]

The death of the symphony has been announced at least as often as that of the novel. Both obituaries have been premature. (I just finished reading Josh Gilder's brilliant new novel, Ghost Image, a cross between Raymond Chandler and Dostoyevsky.) In the symphony's case, its demise was diagnosed due to either the supposed exhaustion of [...]

Strips of picture told the story: the great mound of sand and rubble, the busy natives hefting baskets and hauling ropes under the stalwart Englishman's eye, the mighty winged bull restored to civilization at the British Museum. At least that's what I remember reading in an old British edition of The Book of Knowledge as [...]

"A wrong is done when government imposes upon its people, by force or fear or other means, the profession or repudiation of any religion, or when it hinders men from joining or leaving a religious community," says the Second Vatican Council Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae). America was founded on the fundamental principle of [...]

This is the time to put a few cats among the pigeons. I homophonically cast among these pigeons the parish priest who is obliged by the current liturgical books to worship Almighty God in pidgin English. While I am in no rush for the liturgy in the local vernacular, since there are more than 60 [...]

The sky west prop plane from Salt Lake to Casper passed over mountains, valleys, ridges, and clefts, mostly barren. A road, town, or farm was rarely sighted. Bishop David Ricken, D.D., of Cheyenne—only one bishop in Wyoming—realized that Catholics in Wyoming had no Catholic college (it may have been a blessing!). The University of Wyoming [...]

End Notes: Lucky Jim

A long time ago, in June 1949, I visited the Trappist monastery of New Mellary in Iowa, which had been named after the Irish abbey at Mellary that gets glancing mention in James Joyce's story "The Dead." In the fall I would enter the major seminary, but I was still vacillating as to what my [...]

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is often called powerful, hierarchical, and centrally organized. Actually, it's none of these things. Nor is it accountable. About three miles north of the U.S. Capitol, there's a plain five-story building on a wide lawn. It sits a block south of The Catholic University of America and [...]

My son-in-law's question hit me hard. "Now, tell me: Why would I ever want to become a Catholic?" Ryan and my daughter, Carrie, have a daughter themselves—our first grandchild—one year old on the Fourth of July. Ryan continued: "If we had a boy instead of a girl, I would not let him be an altar [...]

The scene is a plain-looking room with a door to the left. A pleasant young man, pestered by tedious and irrelevant questions, exclaims in a frustrated tone, "I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition." Suddenly the door bursts open to reveal Cardinal Ximinez flanked by Cardinal Fang and Cardinal Biggles. "Nobody expects the Spanish [...]

What the War Revealed

In the run-up to the recent Gulf War, I received a letter from a reader of the Irish Catholic, for which I was at that point still editor, declaring that if I kept up my support for the United States's position with regard to Iraq, I would find myself automatically excommunicated from the Church. I [...]

Not long after we moved onto our country property, I thought I'd amble over and see Fred Number Two. We had just bought the property from Fred Number One, and I thought it best to get to know both Freds, since they were our new neighbors and being neighborly was, of course, one of the [...]

Before e-mail, I could have never received personal messages from hundreds of people in a single day. But as our weekly e-mail newsletter has grown, so has the number of readers who take the time to respond (and, yes, I read them all). Most of the messages are positive in tone, and some contain useful [...]

According to an old saw, hard cases make bad law. The same sentiment often applies to those who beget litigation without thinking through possible adverse consequences. A case in point is Chief Justice Roy Moore of Alabama, who erected a monument to the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the state court house. The American [...]

Peter Steinfels, the talented religion columnist for the New York Times and former editor of the liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal, begins his new book, A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America (Simon & Schuster), in 1996 with Joseph Cardinal Bernardin's funeral. Steinfels was born in Chicago and baptized in the [...]

Wallace Stevens once wrote a poem called "Not Ideas About the Thing but the Thing Itself." That's how I like my movies. I don't like sequels, remakes, homages, paraphrases, or ironic commentaries, least of all when they exude the stale smell of postmodernism, which is to art what theme parks are to county fairs. (Is [...]

The Mass has probably been set to music more often than any text in history. Three new CD releases of early- and mid-19th century Masses remind us of the immense treasure contained in the dormant Catholic cultural heritage. We need that reminder in the context of today's liturgical impoverishment, the musical expression of which gives [...]

When asked my politics, I sometimes say, "Papal Insurrectionist." In the classic Catholic novel, Dawn of All, by Robert Hugh Benson, I get my wish. Here is a future wherein the world (or at least Europe and the Americas and increasing parts of Asia and elsewhere) has come to be "really and intelligently Christian." And [...]

The left is taking umbrage at suggestions that Senate Democrats are imposing a de facto religious litmus test on the confirmation of Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl, and other well-qualified federal judicial nominees of President George W. Bush stalled in the Senate—a test prohibited by Article 6 of [...]

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