The New Old

Four years have now passed since I brought an end, all of a sudden, to 20 years of thinking about becoming a Catholic, and under the impression (which I retain) that I had been simply instructed to do so by Mother Mary. This was while witnessing, but not exactly participating in, a Novus Ordo Mass … Read more

Will Dr. James Dobson Damage the Christian Vote?

Dr. James Dobson is the founder of the largest, most influential, Evangelical organization in America, Focus on the Family. His radio show reaches two million listeners every day, and he’s easily the most important Evangelical leader in the country. As a result, Dobson’s political pronouncements carry a lot of weight among Christian voters. But these … Read more

Pope Benedict and Nature’s Genius

It has been one year since Pope Benedict XVI’s ill-starred Regensburg Address. We say “ill-starred” because the media fixated on a side comment the pope made about Islam, apparently to clinch a depiction of the pope as intolerant. In the process, they obscured the luminous center of the pope’s speech, the relationship of science and … Read more

Louis XIV’s Saving ‘Solidity’

Historians have much reason to be grateful to the memorialists of the 17th and 18th centuries. Given that Antonia Fraser has made “love and Louis XIV” the subject of her latest work, she is certainly indebted to the Princess Elizabeth Charlotte (Liselotte) of Bavaria, sister-in-law of the Sun King, whom Fraser calls her favorite among … Read more

Fall Harvest

A round of ritual lamentations on the demise of the classical music recording industry has ushered in yet another bountiful fall harvest of CDs. In fact, according to Newsweek, while overall music sales declined by 5 percent last year, classical music sales grew by 22 percent. A large part of that astonishing figure apparently has … Read more

You May Remember the Reformation

What to my wondering eyes appears on my computer screen today but a big advertisement from something called “Paula White Ministries.” It has that sort of Oprah vibe to it that many non-denominational women’s ministries do. Unlike the martial sense one gets from male-run Evangelical outfits that are about “Fighting for the Truth!” and “Making … Read more

Hugh Dacre Barrett-Lennard

  "Je suis l’Armée Britannique!" declared Sir Hugh Dacre Barrett-Lennard (1917-2007) to a startled French mayor at the Normandy invasion when he arrived with driver and jeep far behind enemy lines, in the 2nd Batallion, Essex Regiment. His title only came with accession to the baronetcy when he was 60 years old, as the result … Read more

The Last Carmelite Monks in America?

The last eight Carmelite monks in America, perhaps even the world, live in a four-bedroom rectory in the mountains of northwest Wyoming.   With 35 candidates in various stages of discernment, they hope to move 70 miles away to a 492-acre property near Carter Mountain once owned by “Buffalo Bill” Cody as his hunting preserve. … Read more

Politics from Parables

Notorious atheists like Christopher Hitchens try to convince us that the world would be a more humane place if we could give up on the idea of God, but Tod Lindberg provides a cogent argument in The Political Teachings of Jesus that the modern world’s most cherished liberal values — religious tolerance, equality, freedom, and … Read more

A Double Standard for Catholic Judges?

The recent partial-birth abortion case, in which the Supreme Court upheld certain restrictions passed by a state legislature, generated what has become the usual — and uncontroversial — anti-Catholic venting by the nation’s chattering classes. Commentators huffed that the majority in the case was composed of Catholics who, it was whispered, may have acted on … Read more

God’s Irony

Anthony Esolen’s Ironies of Faith is a very dated kind of book. There is nothing of the first-person narrative that adorns modern books, where the author tells us why something matters to him.   Ironies of Faith: The Laughter at the Heart of Christian Literature Anthony Esolen, ISI Books, 412 pages, $18   Anthony Esolen’s … Read more

‘Who Wants Me Now?’: On the Way to the Kingdom

It’s four o’clock on a Friday afternoon. All the clients have gone home. I am sitting at my desk, sorting papers, mulling over next week’s case list, daring to relax. Suddenly the phone blares, like an alarm mis-set for 2:00 a.m. My startled brain jumps and considers, “Who wants me now?” Here’s what crosses my … Read more

In a Country Church

I am seated in the chancel of a glorious medieval church, just behind the great rood screen, one of only a handful in England that survived the Reformation. Originally, it would have been topped by a great cross, with figures of Our Lady and St. John alongside. Today, its intricate carving and delicate arches welcome … Read more

The Zeal of a Convert

Ramesh Ponnuru, an honoree at the Morley Institute’s 25th Anniversary Partnership Dinner, offered remarks at the event on his search for truth and the defense of life. * * * It is generous of you to recognize me since I have been a Catholic in public life for such a short period of time. My … Read more

The Best Mind of the 18th Century

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Christopher Hitchens, Twelve Books, 307 pages, $24.99 One is tempted to quip that Christopher Hitchens is certainly one of the best minds of the 18th century, but that would be to give Hitchens too much credit as an equal to Voltaire in wit. He is not, and … Read more

A Pro-Choice President Will Never End Abortion

As a practical matter, the argument that a pro-choice president will end abortion is far-fetched. Never in American history has a laissez-faire chief executive ended a great moral evil. Take slavery and de jure racial discrimination. Pro-slavery presidents did not end slavery; it was brought to its conclusion by Abraham Lincoln, who in his 1860 … Read more

A Pro-Choice President Can End Abortion

There is a train of thought that careens down the tracks of a shaky syllogism, and it picks up speed every four years in the United States. Like the Little Engine that Could, it chugs along and says, “I am pro-life and were I president, I would end abortion. Therefore if I vote for a … Read more

Religious Freedom

The English edition of L’Osservatore Romano, for the Fourth of July, carried a “Common Declaration” signed in the Vatican Private Library by Pope Benedict XVI and the Orthodox Archbishop H. B. Chrysostomos II of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus. In No. 4 of this declaration, these two leaders, somewhat curiously, address themselves to “those who … Read more

The Next Battle for Religious Freedom

This year marks the 60th anniversary of one of the most unfortunate and controversial Supreme Court decisions, Everson v. Board of Education. While the case had a good result, in that the Court ruled that Catholic parents could be reimbursed for their children using public buses to get to parochial school, the case has a … Read more

16 Catholic Senators Vote to Fund Abortion

Last Thursday, 16 of the 25 Catholics in the U. S. Senate voted to overturn the “Mexico City Policy” to allow funding to overseas health clinics providing abortions. One of the 16 was freshman Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) who ran against, and defeated, Sen. Rick Santorum as a “pro-life” candidate. It’s doubtful whether Casey, … Read more

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