Monday Mourning Coming Down

The day after IS terrorists beheaded 21 Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach, all of Turkey wore black – in memory of Ozgecan Aslan, a university student who was murdered, allegedly after frustrating a rape attempt by a minibus driver. Ghastly as the crime was, the aftermath was even worse. Desperate to hide the evidence, [Read More...]

Lent and the Lame Evangelist

I’ve been warned that wearing a cross openly in Turkey means asking for trouble. There’s good reason for thinking so. The Republic was conceived in war – the War of Independence, in which several Christian nations grabbed at Ottoman territory – and birthed before the muzzles had begun to cool. To Atatürk’s victory in that [Read More...]

Valentine’s Day: For Some, 50 Shades of Blue

I’ll call her Lara Lipschitz, even though that’s not her real name. Her real name doesn’t matter. In her professional life as model, artist, EFL instructor and go-go dancer, she generally goes by a pseudonym. That pseudonym isn’t “Lara Lipschitz,” but it is unmistakably Jewish, so “Lara Lipschitz” seems like a fair enough substitute for [Read More...]

The Crusades and Yearning for Christendom

A few days ago, my Patheos colleague Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry asked fellow Catholics to lay off the Crusades apologetics. The piece he links to by way of example — Professor Thomas Madden’s First Things review of Jonathan Kiley-Smith’s The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam — dates back to June, 2009. But I appreciate PEG’s dismay at seeing [Read More...]

Five Reasons I Despise Listicles

If Moses had brought a donkey or two up Mt. Horeb, God might have sent him down with a dozen tablets inscribed (on both sides) with the text of something titled A Treatise on the Nature of Good and Evil, and on the Covenant Between the God of Abraham and His Chosen People. Instead, the [Read More...]

In Praise and Defense of Catechists

They frown. They squint. They knit and raise their brows. They purse and chew on their lips. They glower. Students’ faces are the masks of cannibal priests but their eyes are the eyes of martyrs. Except cannibal priests don’t collapse face-down on a pillow of their own crossed arms in the last hour of the [Read More...]

Semipro Catholic, Live on Facebook

I loathe self-promoting – not because I’m modest, but because I wasted years of my life selling things. Depending on the year and the company I happened to be working for, my wares were debt reduction plans, adjustable-rate mortgages and online university degrees. I was a loser sustaining himself parasitically by pitching empty dreams of [Read More...]

Mike Huckabee, Pope Francis, and the Rise of Mother Manners

It seems a terrible waste in a man whose name is basically a dirty limerick waiting to be written, but Mike Huckabee frowns on cussing. On an Iowa radio program, after assuring listeners that “In the South, or in the Midwest, there in Iowa, you would not have people who would just throw the F-bomb [Read More...]

Click Here for Altar Girls

One evening about a year after my baptism, my sponsor told me I should become an altar server. Finding a service niche to suit me was turning into a moral Rubik’s Cube for the both of us. I couldn’t sing or play an instrument. The local house of hospitality was, literally, overflowing with volunteers. It [Read More...]

In A Well-Ordered Society

The campus security guards who stopped me for running without a shirt were very nice about it. When one of them shouted unfamiliar words from their patrol car, I was at the bottom of a long hill and didn’t feel like stopping. I told him, “Yabancı’yım” – “I’m a foreigner”—hoping that the language barrier would [Read More...]

Here We Go Again, Folks

Don’t tell anyone I’m writing. I’m supposed to be beavering away on a new curriculum for advanced EFL students. Compared to most of the other jobs I’ve held, it’s more useful, less venal, and engages much more of the gray matter. It’s also deathly tedious. Unless I seize the odd chance to use language — [Read More...]

An American Sniper…from A Critical Distance

Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, Colonel, USMC (ret.) was fond of promising, “Show me a hero, and I’ll prove to you he’s a bum.” He didn’t except himself from this rule. Commanding a Marine Corps fighter squadron in the Pacific, Boyington destroyed 26 Japanese aircraft, a feat that made him an ace five times over and won [Read More...]

Striking the Tent

Dear Readers: After a long hiatus and a lot of hard thought, I’ve decided to close up shop here at Patheos. With all the loyalty and generosity you’ve shown, you’ve earned an explanation, so here it is: I’m not enough of a Catholic to blog about being a Catholic. At best, my faith is an [Read More...]

A Lousy Lyre

Oh, hi. Yeah, it’s been a while. I’ve backed off writing for several reasons. The first is strictly practical. Creating three-hour PowerPoint slide shows on the passive voice and modals of possibility takes a lot out of a guy. If you think you’re a tough readership, try addressing people who speak English at an upper-intermediate [Read More...]

My Hero

“If you want to write about Syria,” Tawfik whispered in my ear as we stood on the patio of the English academy where we both taught, “you should write about me. I can tell you lots of interesting things.” His offer put me in an awkward position. On one hand, it’s always seemed to me [Read More...]

Give Us This Day Our Daily Ekmek

Turks don’t approve of eating on the street. Or rather, their idea of eating on the street involves sitting down at a café table and placing their orders with a garson — they take their word for “waiter” directly from the French. The New York version of street eating, where the diner wolfs his food [Read More...]


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