George Kennan, Vladimir Putin & the Appetites of Men


  “The fact of the matter is that there is a little bit of the totalitarian buried somewhere, way down deep, in each & every one of us. It is only the cheerful light of confidence & security which keeps this evil genius down…If confidence & security were to disappear, don’t think that he would not be waiting to take their place.” - George KennanIt was the same old question. And George Kennan was growing frustrated. It was February 22, 1946. The peace following the Second World Wa … [Read more...]

Robert Frost, the Black Cottage & the Truth


 "Most of the change we think we see in life Is due to truths being in and out of favour."- Robert Frost, from The Black Cottage Please be warned. I am about to interpret poetry. And it's not just any poetry, but Robert Frost's poetry. That said, let me begin this essay fully recognizing the shortcomings of seeing in poetry that which may never have been intended by the poet. To make this point, I draw from one of Flannery O'Connor's brilliant letters collected in The Habit of … [Read more...]

“Pax Tecum”: My Patient, My Friend


  "Pax tecum." I'll never forget those two words. And the beaming face of the man who said them. At first, I saw him in clinic intermittently. However, as time went on and his illnesses compounded themselves, our visits became more regular. Quarterly, monthly, every two weeks and, sometimes, even twice in the same week. Infections. Heart Failure. Valve problems. Arterial aneurysms. Back pain. Dick had it all. Did he ever.I first met Dick and Sharon when their physician of decades retired. … [Read more...]

What This Catholic Dad Saw At The Lego Movie


 I used to be in touch. Well at least I thought I was. For years, several of my work colleagues would tease that I had my finger on the pulse of pop culture. Whether it regarded the latest movies, television series, music, award or reality shows, I could quote, cite or expound with a delicious flair. The (British) Office, Arrested Development, U2, Superbad and Temptation Island were all in my wheelhouse. And more. Yep. Ahem, ahem. Quite the skill (cue leaning back with thumbs h … [Read more...]

“Stripping for Lent”: St. Thomas More & the Way of Sacrifice


"I die the King's good servant, but God's first."  -  St. Thomas MoreLast Sunday was Valentine's Day. Okay, not quite, but it was the day I could "redeem" my Valentine's Day gift from my wife. And what a gift it was. My wife had surprised me with theater tickets to Minneapolis' intimate Open Window Theater to see Robert Bolt's brilliant play about St. Thomas More, A Man for All Seasons. And as previous posts may indicate (see here and here), I am a big fan.The first sign that this would … [Read more...]

Loving Francis, Missing Benedict


In September, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI found himself standing in Westminster Hall, London before British representatives. The audience included the diplomatic corps, politicians, academics and business leaders. It was an extraordinary visit. The Vicar of Christ was openly invited and warmly hosted by an English monarch and society which, centuries before, had bitter enmity with the Church of Rome and persecuted its adherents. It was a true act of charitable reconciliation on both sides. And the … [Read more...]