What’s In a Name?

So it appears that Osama bin Laden, in the weeks before his death, was noodling the possibility of rebranding al-Qaeda, since the old name seems to have attracted a bit of bad publicity. I held a brief contest on my blog inviting readers to help these guys out by coming up with a new name [...]

Let the Children Come to Me

I remember seriously questioning the existence of God when I was eleven years old. I don’t think I was that unusual; like most children, I wondered about things, and God seemed to be the biggest thing I could wonder about. Unfortunately, very few adults besides my parents engaged me about the Faith -- and if [...]

Private Charity Versus Government Welfare

Less than three years has passed since the publication of Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, Charity in Truth. As some readers may remember, the encyclical caused quite a stir both in secular and religious circles -- as have many of the past papal encyclicals dealing with economic questions, going back to Pope Leo XIII's groundbreaking [...]

Five Habits of the Ideal Teacher

The defining characteristic of all my best teachers, from elementary school onward, can be summed up in one word: humility. I used to harbor the misconception that humility meant thinking less of yourself, but the ideal is much more honest. It is thinking of yourself exactly as you are -- no more and no less [...]

Disappointed by Truth

The ugly little secret of life, one I hesitate to share with students, is how disappointing all of it is. Indeed, if the reader is under 30, I'm tempted to tell him to click on some other column -- lest I drain from him the sparks of life and energy that are meant to keep [...]

Mary the Virgin Mother

  Last week we spoke of Mary as the New Eve and Virgin Bride and noted that virginity always speaks of purity. The purity of Mary's faith, so closely bound up with her virginity, leads to the other great Marian image found in John's Gospel: Mary as the Virgin Mother. For at the very climax [...]

Re-Inheriting the ‘Disinherited Mind’

Though he was no friend of the Catholic Church, Erich Heller was the enemy of our enemies, and under current circumstances, that should be good enough for us. The man has been dead for 20 years, and my paperback copy of his most famous book, The Disinherited Mind, has been yellowing for half a century, [...]

Top Ten Theological Works of the 20th Century?

Henry Karlson at Vox Nova has offered a list of the top ten theological works of the 20th century, "based upon either their influence or the value I see they should have for the future of theology." Here is his list: 10. Henri de Lubac, Catholicism. 9. Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology. 8. Gustavo Gutierrez, A [...]

Pursuing the Truth: On Catholic Higher Education

The purpose of higher education is the pursuit of truth, and throughout history men and women have devoted their lives to it. One such man was Mohandas Gandhi. Born in 1869, the son of uneducated parents, he was a mediocre student and a self-described coward who feared ghosts -- into adulthood, he slept with a [...]

Truth, Lies, and Filmmaking

During all the soccer mania last week, I thought it would be a good time to watch The Damned United, the (very loose) story of the rise of Brian Clough, one of England's most successful (and colorful) football managers in the 1970s. It was a fun, lighthearted movie: Michael Sheen is fast becoming one of [...]

Curing Socratophobia: On Teaching the Great Books

  Modern liberal Catholic colleges and universities have made a mockery of academic freedom, as the recent Marquette "controversy" reveals (see my analysis here and here). Unfortunately, in reaction to the modernism, relativism, careerism, atheism, skepticism, and political correctness of the typical "Catholic" educational institutions today, some of the more unapologetically orthodox Catholic colleges and [...]

‘Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.’

I happened across this horrifying link over the weekend, and am at a complete loss as to what to say about it. It's mind-boggling: The Katowice Appeal Court has today upheld the verdict of the Katowice District Court which ruled in September ‘09 that the Polish Catholic newspaper Gosc Niedzielny (Sunday Visitor) and its editor-in-chief [...]

Superboy and the Search for Truth

Today, while browsing YouTube in an effort to keep a 3-year-old-boy with an unknown-but-unfriendly stomach ailment amused, I happened across this intriguing video clip: My boys have several of the Superman comic book compilations from the 40's and 50's, and there are a handful of Superboy stories in there, so I'm familiar with the overall [...]

In Praise of Credulity

St. Thomas Aquinas was once tricked by his fellow students who cried out, "Look! A flying ox!" Thomas dutifully went to the window to look, and his peers all laughed at him heartily. Thomas's reply (and one of the many reasons he's a saint): "I thought it more likely that an ox would fly than [...]

Humiliation in Hardware

I tried to look casually confident as I scanned the too-full shelves of my local hardware store. But the manager zeroed in on me anyway.   "And what are we looking for today?" he cooed at me, as if a pony-tailed mom in capri pants were the most pathetically lost creature to have set foot [...]

Charity, Civility, and Speaking the Truth

    The funeral of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy provoked a highly charged debate among Catholics about civility. In the midst of this discussion, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, came to Washington, D.C., to be honored by at its 14th Annual Partnership Dinner at [...]

A Confession

In 1993 I was paid a visit in my home in London by an Irish writer, Colm Toibin, who was gathering material for a book on Catholicism in Europe. Toibin himself had lost his faith and seemed surprised when I told him that I believed not just in God but also in such difficult notions [...]

What Lies Beneath

I had a fleeting desire to see the newish movie Watchmen, until I heard that it was yet another in the genre of "let's peel off the facade of the world and get down to the truthiest truth underneath, which is, of course, stench and corruption."  This must be an awfully old theme. Older even [...]

Turning the Tables: On Winning the Public Relations War

In this Crisis Magazine classic, Tom Hoopes outlines four strategies for beating proponents of the Culture of Death at their own game.     From the perspective of the Catholic Church, the culture war can look more like a culture siege -- a one-sided contest pitting the attacking villains against a peace-loving Church. Or worse, [...]

Putting Our Money on the Truth

In 2001, as the full breadth of the sexual abuse scandal in the U.S. Catholic Church hit the pews, disbelief turned to outrage at our parish, St. Ignatius in San Francisco. Everyone demanded, "How did this happen?" Fingers pointed at the bishops, and their long lax handling of clerical abusers with counseling, penance, transfer, and [...]