My Non-Binding Resolutions for the New Year

  I'm not a libertarian, but I play one on the PC. As I've written before (blatant plugs for other rants I've written on this subject follow here and here), there's nothing wrong with the State using its power to foster the Common Good, when the dignity of individuals is respected and the Common Good [...]

The Christmas Classic that Almost Wasn’t

  The other night, along with many other Americans, I watched the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life. Starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, the movie has become a Christmas staple -- but it was not always that way, and how it attained its holiday status has as much to do with the intricacies [...]

Nazi Collaborator or Catholic Hero?

  In October 2008, the Archdiocese of Zagreb celebrated the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Aloysius Cardinal Stepinac, who led the Catholic Church in Croatia during the Second World War. Though he is a hero in Croatia, his reputation elsewhere is a matter of controversy: The Communist regime that took over after the war [...]

Faith and Reason in the West

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI returned to a theme he has advanced several times in his papacy: the importance of faith combined with reason, and the inadequacy of either faith or reason alone. This idea of the complementary nature of faith and reason received international [...]

Sexual Freedom and Its Discontents

  In my last column, I noted that the California Supreme Court was about to decide on the constitutionality of gay marriage in that state. The verdict is in, and a law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman has been overturned. By a 4-3 decision, the court declared the state's [...]

Baseball, Steroids, and Personal Reputations

  The Mitchell Report, Major League Baseball's report on performance-enhancing drugs, makes clear that steroids and other banned substances (primarily human growth hormone, or HGH) have been widely used in the sport over the past decade. MLB and the Players' Association have shamefully turned a blind eye to this developing problem that every serious fan [...]

Cigarettes, Bribes, and Personal Responsibility

It is not often that my little town of Oxford, Mississippi makes the national news, but it happened recently. One of our best-known citizens, attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, was arrested along with a few other attorneys, including Scruggs's son, Zach. According to prosecutors, the Scruggs team tried to bribe a judge for a favorable ruling [...]

The Acoustic Candidate

One of the leading Republican candidates for president -- a Christian no less -- recently made the following comment: Well, let's remember that all law establishes morality. That's what law does. The law of speeding is saying that it's immoral to go at 85 miles an hour. The morality is that we have established a [...]

The Plot to Kidnap Pope Pius XII

In July 1943, Italian partisans toppled Fascist leader Benito Mussolini and threatened the German-Italian alliance. Hitler, on learning of Mussolini's ouster, concluded that "Jew-loving" Pope Pius XII was involved.   A Special Mission: Hitler's Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII Dan Kurzman, Perseus Books, 285 pages, $26   In July [...]

The Priests of Dachau

During the Second World War, when the Nazis moved into a new area, local religious leaders could present a threat to their authority. It was not unusual for the Nazis to send priests and ministers to concentration camps. Priestblock 25487: A Memoir Of Dachau Jean Bernard, translated by Deborah Lucas Schneider Zaccheus Press (2007)   [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Judging the United States By Foreign Law

  One of the most important controversies in constitutional law today arises out of the increasing tendency of some judges, and particularly justices of the Supreme Court, to use decisions of foreign tribunals as authority for interpreting the United States Constitution.   In judicial opinions, published articles, television interviews, and public speeches, Justices Stephen Breyer [...]

Weighing Doubt: One Playwright’s Measured Look at the Crisis in the Catholic Church

  Faced with the lurid, tragic landscape of the Catholic Church's child sex-abuse scandal, some of the laity have posed the question: Where were the nuns when this was going on? Playwright John Patrick Shanley offers a rich, multi-layered response to this and many other related matters -- theological, psychological, and moral -- in Doubt, [...]

What Divides America From Europe? The Rule of Law.

There is something particularly exhilarating in looking at one's own country as it is reflected in the mirror of another culture. And there are special opportunities for such enhanced vision when an American is overseas during a turbulent episode in the political life of the United States. I was in Italy for most of December [...]