My Mother: Muse and Proxy Fighter

Last Thursday at the office, right in the middle of her work day, my mother received an urgent phone call. “Hey, Mom,” the caller began. “I know you’re busy running the ESOL program and compiling that annual review where your students write about being trapped in mudslides and bitten by mongeese and beaten with sjamboks [Read More…]

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The Passion of Mr. B: A Salute to Bad Teachers

In honor of National Teacher Day, which was Tuesday, May 7, Slate is running an article titled “What’s the Worst Thing A Teacher Ever Said to You?” The staff writers who weigh in think they’ve got some doozies. One teacher told Matt Yglesias that Native Americans make up “a subset of yellow people.” A gym [Read More…]

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The Church and Gays: No Earthly Reason

Yesterday morning, ten LGBT-rights activists gathered outside St. Patrick’s cathedral for Mass and found themselves, so to speak, stonewalled. They were warned — first by New York City police officers, then by a cathedral functionary — that they would face criminal trespassing charges if they tried to enter. But the ten had more than liturgy [Read More…]

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This Week in the Military: Duelling Moral Panic

Military Religious Freedom Foundation head Mikey Weinstein takes pains to remind fellow Americans that he’s a Republican. There’s no need. He sounds just like one, or anyway, like some talk-radio character who thinks the GOP went soft when Reagan’s promise to outlaw Russia turned out to be a joke. Granted, his targets are a little [Read More…]

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The Limits of Companionship

In a piece on her Sexual Authenticity blog, Melinda Selmys calls loneliness and isolation “the most common cause of sexual sin.” In many respects, Selmys’ piece is wonderful — a real breath of fresh air. Unusually for a Catholic writer, she focuses on sexual sinners’ subjective sense of well-being, their happiness. Also somewhat off-script, she [Read More…]

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Confessions of A Wannabe Chechen

Some people are wannabe Chechens. In actual fact, they could be Kurds, Azeris, Tajiks, Sandžak Turks, or members of almost any other group with a small or still-nascent homeland, a big diaspora, and maybe an historic chip on its shoulder. According to Robert Schaefer, a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier and author of The Insurgency [Read More…]

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Now Thank We All Our God

In the Boston suburb of Watertown, law-enforcement officers have killed marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev and captured Dzokhar, his fellow suspect and younger brother. Following a carjacking, a “rolling gun battle” (as the Yahoo! News puts it) that left an MIT police officer dead and a transit officer wounded, and a house-by-house search of a [Read More…]

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Fun with Muslims

Mr. D. was choking. Clutching his throat and gagging, he mananged to spit out a single word in his native Urdu: Pani. I don’t speak Urdu — not even “Up yours.” But that one word was enough to trigger a literary association. As Mr. D’s face turned the color of a blood orange, I remembered [Read More…]

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For the Love of Conspiracy Theorists

Though not religious in any conventional way, Rick, my best friend, believes strongly in a personal, capital-D Devil. This Devil of Rick’s has a lot of say in world affairs. Through a loyal cadre of mortals who have made a bad trade on their souls, he runs Proctor and Gamble, Capitol Records, and even Nickelodeon. [Read More…]

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Kermit Gosnell and the Bursting Bubble

On LifeNews, Jill Stanek offers a good summary of the media establishent’s recent come-to-Jesus moment. Thanks to pro-life activists and social media, a number of very high-profile journalists are lining up to admit that, yeah, they ought to have paid more attention to the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. With prosecutors painting a mural of [Read More…]

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But They Couldn’t Call Her A Kike

In 2005, Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier slain in Iraq, was becoming the official face of the antiwar movement. The profundity of her loss and the sincerity of her bereavement made her moral authority seem, for a time, unassailable. Then Christopher Hitchens spotted, or thought he spotted, a crack in her armor. In an [Read More…]

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A Prayer for Suicides

On Friday morning, Matthew Warren, son of Saddleback Valley Community Church pastor and Purpose-Driven Life author Rick Warren, died from what Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies describe as a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Pastor Warren has called his son’s suicide the culmination of “mental illness resulting in deep depression.” Yesterday, Tom McDonald, of the God in the [Read More…]

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Broken Silence

On Saturday afteroons, there’s a special stillness in the air of churches, a vacuum like a collective holding of breath that contrasts favorably with the outside weekend buzz. With the electric lights catching a break and the stained-glass windows granting some vent to Brother Sun, brightness and gloom split their differences, settling in the end [Read More…]

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In Praise of the Carnival

As soon as I stepped out of my apartment Easter morning, I saw my upstairs neighbor, Consuelo, relaxing on her balcony. She and I have worked out a barter economy, cigarettes being the chief commodity. I asked if she could spare one, and she tossed one down. As she did, she asked, “Where are you [Read More…]

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An Act of Kindness

I’m in the habit of keeping my front door open, at least a few inches. Mainly, I do it for the sake of the fresh air, but among other fringe benefits, this constant accessibility to the world has widenend my social network. Rusty the Cat aside, there’s a Somali guy who asked my help in [Read More…]

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Why I’m Catholic, in 200 Words

This morning, I received a copy of an e-mail from Elizabeth Scalia, inviting all the writers of the Catholic Portal to explain why we’re Catholic. Here’s why I became Catholic in the first place: I’m a fuckup. After earning a degree and a half from a third-rate university, I figured I’d never lead a life [Read More…]

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