culture

A Nation with the Soul of a Church

One of the most insightful things I’ve ever read about America is G.K. Chesterton’s quip that it is “a nation with the soul of a church.” It’s a comment that cuts two ways. Chesterton made it at a time when the U.S. enforced on its citizens the unjust laws of Prohibition. That policy had been … Read more

Satanism: A Primer

L’Osservatore Romano’s English edition (Jan. 29—Mar. 5 1997), ran five essays on “Satanism.” Reference was made there to an earlier study written by an unnamed French theologian entitled “Faith and Demonology,” published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in 1975. The latter document covers the history of papal and Church thinking on … Read more

Worship Gone Awry

Many thoughtful Catholics dismiss concern for style as an affectation, an indulgence in personal taste. Like Puritan prelates, they pull their hems back from what they regard as an overemphasis on ornament and human ceremony. These are distractions from the true ecclesia, the living temple that is the people of God. If Christ is found … Read more

Liar’s Paradox

Logicians have an exercise called “The Liar’s Paradox” which is used to illustrate a number of things. The basic scenario is this: Your ship goes down, and eventually you drift ashore, where you are greeted by a native who informs you that everyone on this island always lies. Can you believe him? If what he … Read more

Wealth and Giving It Away

American Christians are said to be at ease in our secular consumer culture. But didn’t Christ talk about giving away one’s worldly goods and living as the lilies of the field, not pursuing wealth and luxury? The New Testament isn’t a textbook in economics or politics. The New Testament is interested in the poor. But … Read more

Jesus at First Sight

Some years ago, at an excellent high school in Minneapolis, I taught a seminar to junior boys on ancient and early Christian authors. The course began with a full-length reading of Homer’s Iliad, and at Christmas, with the seminar half over, my informal poll always revealed that this was the boys’ favorite work up to … Read more

Concentrating the Mind

Catholic opponents of the death penalty sometimes seem to lose sight of the primary purpose of punishment. The Ca­techism of the Catholic Church (final text) says, “Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense.” If I commit a serious offense against society, I bring about a disorder, and the point … Read more

The Wrong Road to Cultural Revolution

The title of the sophomoric 1,518-page manifesto is “2083 — A European Declaration of Independence,” and its author, Anders Behring Breivik, is the self-confessed murderer of 93 people by current count. Nothing can justify his Breivik’s cold-blooded brutality, but the concerns that motivated him are both perfectly understandable and shared by many of us. Only … Read more

Our Wobbly World

In antiquity, everything depended on tradition because people recognized that their ancestors were the oneswho had survived in a hostile world that wanted to kill them. So smart people listened to what their ancestors said and, Darwin being right about some things, tended to be the survivors, while stupid people ignored seasoned wisdom and wound … Read more

Crisis Magazine Summer Reading List 2011

With summer fully, oppressively upon us, it’s time once again for the Crisis Magazine Summer Reading List. We’ve asked writers, staff, and friends to share with us some books they’ve recently enjoyed and what they recommend to while away a muggy afternoon. Their picks cover everything from classics to new favorites, fiction to history to … Read more

Confirm Thy Soul in Self Control

I encourage you to set aside the burgers and dogs and soda and beer for a moment this Fourth of July and contemplate something decidedly different, maybe even as you gaze upward at the flash of fireworks. Here it is: Confirm thy soul in self-control. What do I mean by that? Let me explain. The founders … Read more

The Unhidden Faith of Lady Falkland

While plenty of scholars continue to debate Shakespeare’s Catholicity (or lack thereof), there are other English Renaissance dramatists whose Catholicism is less conjectural. One such Catholic is Elizabeth Cary (Lady Falkland, officially), the first known woman to publish an original play in English with the Tragedy of Miriam the Fair Queen of Jewry in 1613. … Read more

Catholic University Trusts Its Students

When President John Garvey of the Catholic University of America (CUA) courageously announced this week that he would end the university’s 30-year experiment with co-ed dorms, he offended modern sensibilities. ABC News interviewed college students who — although not CUA students, and therefore not affected by the CUA policy — seemed insulted by what appeared … Read more

Building on Nature

In his Letters to an American Lady, on November 10, 1952, C. S. Lewis wrote: I believe that, in the present divided state of Christendom, those who are at the heart of each division are all closer to one another than those who are at the fringes. I would even carry this beyond the borders … Read more

Reactions to the John Jay Report

  Yesterday, the John Jay College research team released their report on the clerical sex-abuse scandal, titled “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010.” First, hats off to the U.S. bishops for commissioning the report and outsourcing the investigation to the John Jay College of … Read more

True and False Tolerance

Tolerance is an ambiguous word greatly valued by the zeitgeist. Who dares to declare himself against tolerance? There would be nothing left to say, however, if the contemporary idea of tolerance was not fundamentally distorted. Properly understood, tolerance implies respect for people but not agreement with their error or fault. Thus, ideas do not have … Read more

Society taking a second look at monogamy?

A recent CDC study found that the number of 15 to 24 year olds who reported being virgins in 2008 had increased slightly since 2002. In his latest column, Ross Douthat sees in that trend a reason for optimism — not because he thinks we’ll ever really see an end to premarital sex, but because … Read more

How Catholics Commit Political Suicide

Anti-Catholicism has always been a problem in America, although today it is nothing like what existed in an earlier era. Catholics are part of the nation’s economic, political, and cultural establishment, no longer the lesser citizens of a society that was generically Protestant and fairly proud of that fact. But every so often, events conspire … Read more

Liberating Motherhood

The feminist slogan of the sixties, “sisterhood is powerful,” was not in itself a falsehood, but insofar as it led to an eclipse or a denial of the value of motherhood, it created a great deal of confusion and unhappiness for young women. Whereas the late John Paul II saw motherhood as a fulfillment of … Read more

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