What we have come to: language blogger fired for writing about “homophones”

Really:  Homophones, as any English grammarian can tell you, are words that sound the same but have different meanings and often different spellings — such as be and bee, through and threw, which and witch, their and there. This concept is taught early on to foreign students learning English because it can be confusing to [Read More...]

“These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc”

Incredibly, this Friday marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Which means this marks the 30th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s remarkable speech commemorating that event. Written by Peggy Noonan—using the skills she honed writing at CBS News Radio—it still stands the test of time. Radio writers like to talk about how their medium occupies [Read More...]

All That Jazz: How F. Scott Fitzgerald Wound Up in a Catholic Cemetery

Some days back, I wrote about the Fitzgerald grave, which rests just outside the church where I was married 27 years ago. The Washington Post recently revisited the churchyard, and offers more about the fabled author’s final resting place: Things have changed for Scott and Zelda. “We usually see a handful of people visiting the cemetery [Read More...]

The peculiar Catholicism of Roger Ebert

The Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic takes note of recent papal news, waxes nostalgically about his Catholic upbringing (complete with Dominican nuns) and then concludes: I consider myself Catholic, lock, stock and barrel, with this technical loophole: I cannot believe in God. I refuse to call myself an atheist, however, because that indicates too great a [Read More...]

What about the pope’s last, unfinished encyclical?

His planned trilogy on the theological virtues will remain, it seems, incomplete.  Catholic News Service has some interesting background:  In December, the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said that Pope Benedict’s fourth encyclical would be released in the first half of 2013. Treating the subject of faith, the encyclical would complete a trilogy on [Read More...]

“We must aspire to the life of perfection”

“When God the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according to its own kind; he has likewise commanded Christians, who are the living plants of his Church, to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his station and his calling. I say [Read More...]

Victor Hugo: miserable Catholic?

As I mentioned, the movie of “Les Miserables” is teeming with Catholic references.  It lead me to wonder about the background of the novel’s author, Victor Hugo. From Wikipedia:  Hugo’s religious views changed radically over the course of his life. In his youth, he identified himself as a Catholic and professed respect for Church hierarchy [Read More...]

Has fiction lost its faith?

That’s the provocative and sobering question that headlines this essay by Paul Elie in the New York Times Book Review this weekend: If any patch of our culture can be said to be post-Christian, it is literature. Half a century after Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Reynolds Price and John Updike presented themselves as novelists with [Read More...]

How Charles Dickens saved Christmas

The story behind the most famous Christmas story since the Nativity, from the Capitol Hill Times: When Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in 1842, the holiday was nearly dead in modern England. Christmas was celebrated by the rural and poor, but frowned upon by employers. It took an American, Washington Irving, to praise Christmas [Read More...]

Obama, Palin, Jobs and the Beach Boys enter Bartlett’s—and there’s an app for that

Check it out: The 18th edition of the venerable reference work has just been released, the first for the electronic age and a chance to take in some of the new faces, events and catchphrases of the past 10 years. General editor Geoffrey O’Brien says he has expanded upon the trend set by his predecessor, [Read More...]