History

Hail, Sol Invictus!

Let’s imagine for a moment that Christmas had never happened and that the Roman Emperor Aurelian had succeeded in establishing the feast of Sol Invictus on December 25 back in the year 274 AD. Instead of Christmas, we would have had the Feast of the Unconquered Sun. At this time of year, just after the [...]

Lessons of History?

  It used to be common for people to urge us to learn "the lessons of history." But history gets much less attention these days and, if there are any lessons that we are offered, they are more likely to be the lessons from current polls or the lessons of political correctness. Even among those [...]

Not Disruptive Enough

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution Francis Fukuyama; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 272 pages; $25   Francis Fukuyama thinks big and always on the cutting edge. But he’s no windbag intellectual. He actually knows things; he works hard to master the political, economic, and scientific information required to support his breathtaking theoretical claims. [...]

1943: The Diplomats’ Battle

As Foreign Minister, and Viceroy of India before that, Lord Edward Halifax was the preferred choice of the Conservative Party and the King to succeed Chamberlain as Prime Minister, but he knew he was no match for Churchill and did not press his case. In this he showed an altruism which was commonly admired, notwithstanding [...]

A War Prevented: Pope John XXIII and the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Holy See is the oldest continuing international organization in the world. Its Secretary of State office was established in 1486, and that is also when its first permanent representatives were established in Venice, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and France. Today, the Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with 176 states. It is also the [...]

An American Tailgunner in “Hell”

“Just existing became what was important,” says 87-year-old Frank Kravetz of Pittsburgh, captive of the “hell-hole” that was Nuremberg Prison Camp. “Yet even as I struggled with the day-to-day sadness and despair, I never once had any regrets that I signed up to serve.” An extended tour of Nazi camps as a wounded POW scratching [...]

What’s So Great About Catholicism?

With its divine foundation, sanction, and mission, nothing could be more glorious than the Catholic Church. But, of course, many people — even many baptized Catholics — don't see it that way. Yet when the sins of men — secular material progress, or our own self-centeredness — blind us to this, they blind us to everything. The Renaissance, a [...]

The Witness of Whittaker Chambers

Whittaker Chambers: A Biography, Sam Tanenhaus, Modern Library, 1998, 638 pages, $20   It was early December 1948, and Congressman Richard Nixon was in the midst of the first of his "six crises." For the moment this particular crisis was in recess, and a supremely satisfied Nixon was posing for pictures. In his hands was [...]

Anything But Anonymous: Shakespeare the Catholic

Almost five hundred years after his death, William Shakespeare remains one of the most important figures in human history. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Homer and Dante, he is part of the triumvirate of literary giants who straddle the centuries as permanent witnesses of the permanent things. It is, therefore, gratifying that modern scholarship is [...]

Climate Change, Galileo, and the New Inquisition

Four centuries ago Galileo was condemned by the Papacy for promoting the theory of a heliocentric universe, because the science was in conflict with Biblical beliefs. Recently, Australian prelate Cardinal George Pell rang the changes on the belief versus science theme in a lecture delivered at the 2011 Global Warming Policy Annual Forum, Westminster Cathedral [...]

On this Crock

Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit, by Garry Wills, (2000) Doubleday, 328 pages, $25   When Pope John Paul II summoned Catholics to a “purification of memory” by facing up to faults, he spoke of a process that should engage us all. This stripping away of delusion and self-deception will be difficult, but it will be [...]

Henry Hyde Was Right, G.W. Bush Was Wrong

Events unfolding in the Middle East are proving that Henry Hyde was right and George Bush was wrong on the wisdom of a foreign policy focused on promoting democracy. When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared in Hyde's House International Relations Committee on Feb. 16, 2006, she presented written testimony touting Bush's messianic policy. "In [...]

What Is It We Wish to Conserve?

A conservative's task in society is "to preserve a particular people, living in a particular place during a particular time." Jack Hunter, in a review of this writer's new book, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? thus summarizes Russell Kirk's view of the duty of the conservative to his country. Kirk, the [...]

Finding St. Joseph

Imagine a world where no Christian is named for St. Joseph, where no church or religious organization bears his name. Picture St. Joseph absent from the Mass, the Breviary, the Church calendar, and the Litany of Saints. No shrines, no special devotions, no hymns, no solo images, no popular customs, no festive foods pay homage [...]

A History of Short-Term Solutions

  History proves that fiscal policies can be effective in stimulating private demand in a downturn. To be meaningful, however, the actions must be large enough to restart influential economic sectors and sufficiently broad-based to incentivize consumption. History also shows that temporary measures or narrowly targeted programs simply do not work. The Obama Administration came [...]

Failing Liberty 101

A recent Superman comic book has the hero saying, "I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship" because "truth, justice, and the American way -- it's not enough anymore." Though not addressing Superman's statement, Stanford University professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow William Damon explains how such a vision could emerge today but not yesteryear. The explanation [...]

Replacing Property as a Source of Wealth Creation

  One of the interesting things about our country, the independence of which the Founders declared 235 years ago today, is that we have been a property-holders' democracy. This is not something the Founders originally advocated. While they protested taxation by a British parliament in which they were not represented, they did not think that [...]

Time Magazine and the Constitution

The Fourth of July may be just a holiday for fireworks to some people. But it was a momentous day for the history of this country and the history of the world. Not only did July 4, 1776 mark American independence from England, it marked a radically different kind of government from the governments that prevailed [...]

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. [...]

Five Myths About Worship in the Early Church

As the forthcoming new translation of the Roman Missal debunks the myth that liturgical language must be so banal that even the muppets on Sesame Street can understand it, it’s a good time to examine five other untruths that have been wreaking havoc on the Church’s worship in recent decades.   1. Mass facing the [...]

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