New York

Gotham’s Public Piano Project

While Pixar's One Man Band still holds the (somewhat dubious) distinction of being my favorite Imaginative Busking Example Ever, this New York story is a worthy entry: On Monday morning, New York City added a new sound to its usual cacophony of honking cars and taxis, groaning buses, and screeching subways: 5,280 tinkling piano keys. In a collaboration [...]

From Convent to Mosque… on Staten Island

Living through the postconciliar crisis in the Church, I've often felt I could empathize a little with those who endured the Reformation. This came home to me most vividly in 1986, when I attended my first academic conference in Maryland, on Christianity and Literature. The people from the host institution, Washington Bible College, were friendly [...]

How acupuncture relieves pain

Science reports that a new study on mice shows that acupuncture activates pain-suppressing receptors. This is no surprise to the millions of people around the world who use acupuncture, but it's always interesting when science discovers how things actually work. Researchers have developed two hypotheses for how acupuncture relieves pain. One holds that the needle [...]

Praise the Lord and pass the salt

The high-fructose corn syrup scare is so passe, Zoe -- the new terror lurking in our foods is salt. One New York assemblyman has already taken steps to fight this insidious additive by proposing a ban on the substance in New York restaurants, with a corresponding fine of $1,000 per salty infraction. My favorite curmudgeonly [...]

A Day in the Big Apple

This past weekend, I made my first-ever visit to New York City. Margaret and her trusty iPhone (complete with the indispensable NY Subway App) shepherded me safely through the most bewildering urban landscape I have ever experienced (as well as the most bewildering one I will ever experience, I suspect). My reactions mostly alternated between "I'm really confused [...]

An Evening with Bishop John Shelby Spong

This wasn't what Bishop John Shelby Spong expected. Meeting in a posh ballroom of the glitzy, glass Marriott Hotel on Times Square, his audience was overwhelmingly white-skinned, white-haired, well-educated, and well-heeled. Nothing unusual there. But the questions?"All evidence suggests that pre-modern forms of Christianity are in better health than the small strands within Christianity that [...]

How One Community Brought Renewal to Religious Life

Since it was a decidedly Catholic film, it was only fitting that the invited audience at the premiere of Thérèse should be the same. Sitting with actor/director Leonardo Defelippis in the New York theater were a bishop, some priests, local diocesan officials, Catholic activists, and a patchwork of religious men and women wearing full-length habits.  [...]

Too Big to Fail

On a recent overseas trip, I read most of Andrew Sorkin's Too Big to Fail. Despite its length, the book is a page-turner and is worth reading to understand the background of the financial crisis. The more I read, the more it became clear to me that the crisis was not just about bad banking and [...]

Another carpetbagging Southerner makes eyes at New York

A happy announcement for carpetbagging opportunists everywhere: You have a new king, and his name is Harold Ford, Jr. You may remember Ford as the former five-term Congressman from Tennessee, where his voting record -- and campaign rhetoric -- marked him as a moderate Democrat. But political winds rarely blow in one direction for long, [...]

Trying Terrorists in Civilian Courtrooms

Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced the Obama administration's decision to try the self-confessed 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), and his four alleged co-conspirators in a civilian New York criminal court. Purportedly, this is being done to demonstrate to the world that the American judicial system is just, and that the United States will [...]

Stalin’s Trollop: The Envy of Lillian Hellman

In analyzing Envy, we must look beyond the obvious. It's true that this sin is specially tempting to life's apparent "losers" -- to those with fewer natural gifts of talent and treasure, of looks or smarts. But Greed isn't limited to the rich, nor is Envy owned by the folks enumerated in Marty Haugen's catchy, [...]

The Good News about Our Bishops

For those who may be lamenting the seeming resurgence of the Catholic Left in the Age of Obama, I would like to point out some good news: This year's spate of bishops' assignments have been quite heartening. Since the beginning of 2009, there have been ten appointments announced by the Vatican. All of them should [...]

Standing on the Mound: The Virtues of Baseball

Don't tell me about the world. Not today. It's springtime and they're knocking baseballs around fields where the grass is damp and green in the morning and the kids are trying to hit the curve ball. -- Pete Hamill I once knew a woman who, when preparing the first fruit salad of summer, would lop [...]

What Would Jack Bauer Do?

  Suppose I asked, "Are there any circumstances when it would be okay for the president to order an interrogator to crush a nine-year-old boy's testicles?" What would you answer?   If you are a normal person and not John Yoo, the man who, from 2001 to 2003 was employed as the Justice Department's legal [...]

A Bishop in the Tradition of Cardinal O’Connor

    Recently I've begun to notice a resemblance between Scranton's Bishop Joseph Francis Martino and another Philadelphia-born bishop, John Cardinal O'Connor. Bishop Martino is outspoken, and his direct, almost pugnacious, criticism is reminiscent of the late cardinal of New York.   Both Martino and O'Connor attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary before seeking graduate degrees [...]

Mother Seton

    In the winter of 1816, a 14-year-old Catholic girl, living with her widowed mother at Emmitsburg, Maryland, fell on the ice, breaking her hip. Inadequately cared for by the primitive medical science of her day, she suffered weeks of pain and died in her mother's arms, having told her the day before: "I [...]

The People behind the Politics

  The immigration debate is singularly polarizing in our political climate today. From cries for "compassionately conservative" acceptance of those immigrants doing the jobs "Americans won't do," to Tom Tancredo's insistence that "the pope's immigration comments may have less to do with spreading the gospel than they do about recruiting new members of the church," [...]

What Are We Doing?

Last night, the Archdiocese of New York held its famous Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, with both Senators John McCain and Barack Obama as guests. I watched the coverage today -- the story is all over the news, along with images of Obama and Edward Cardinal Egan sharing a laugh. Something about that bothered [...]

George Edward Lynch

Satafi in Mauretania Caesariensi was a town in the western part of modern Algeria, and its chief claim to fame was that it was the birthplace of Marcus Opellius Macrinus who succeeded Caracalla as emperor, albeit for just 14 months. Because the Berbers there eventually were Islamicized, it was ripe as a defunct diocese to [...]

Benedict to the UN: In Defense of Natural Law

  December 10, 1948: Keep your eye on that date. It's likely to have an important symbolic role in Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to the United Nations and the United States.   Religious and civic pageantry, teddy bears wearing T-shirts with papal-visit logos, and celebrity worship may be the visit's most obvious features. But [...]