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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Come Back, Magdi Allam!

I’m still hoping that Pope Francis’ election won’t serve as the starting gun in a race out the Church doors, the finish line being sects and denominations that seem somehow less Francis-like. But if my hopes on that score do end up dashed, that race is already won, with Magdi Allam claiming the gold. Allam, [Read More...]

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Keep it Simple…For Now?

One day in the agora, tradition has it, Diogenes passed a group of spiffily dressed Athenians and dismissed their finery as “mere affectation.” A little later, a group of Spartans wearing homespun and noble, haunted expressions impressed him no better. “More affectation,” he said, and stomped on home to his jug. I think of this [Read More...]

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Convenience Store Apostolate

As I was walking home from Mass on the second Sunday in Lent, a woman jumped into my path, thrust a stack of CDs in my face, and offered me my pick in exchange for five bucks. YouTube having effectively reduced CDs to charmless art objects, I didn’t bother looking. But I did remember a [Read More...]

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My Mother Likes Pope Francis

This statement might not sound worthy of a lede, much less a headline. But I know the lady, and you don’t, so you’ll just have to take my word that her applauding Peter’s successor is about as improbable as her getting pregnant at the age of 68. Let me amend that. You might not know [Read More...]

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Addicted to Faith Films

You’ve got to hand it to St. Augustine. In his Confessions, he records his evolution from gnostic to Christian with the precision of a dieter. Apart from a few scattered phrases, like the one where he refers to his being “stuck fast in the glue of [sexual] pleasure,” he treats his conversion from sensualist to [Read More...]

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Scenes from an Accident

Early this morning, I saw a woman in a white car pull out of the parking lot of my apartment complex and head for the turning lane. As she did, she cut off a man on a motorcycle. Though he slowed and swerved, the cyclist hit the car with a crunch, rolled over the hood, [Read More...]

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My Real Career: Fool in Christ?

The letter opened on an ominous note. “Dear Max,” wrote the manager. “I wanted to let you know the result of your interview.” Without further ado, she let fall the axe: “We met another candidate that we feel is the fit that we are looking for, so we are going to proceed in that direction.” [Read More...]

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Psalms Sung Blue

In the first few psalms, God comes across like a rogue cop in a James Ellroy novel. After clearing his Son to break the nations with a rod of iron, He claims His own piece of the action by breaking the teeth of the ungodly. All the while He’s sitting in the heavens and laughing [Read More...]

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The Pilgrimage of Dorian Gray: My First Ash Wednesday

Following the Arizona Cardinals can feel like an endless meditation on the vanity of human desire. Still, it amazes me that Super Bowl XLIII, where Pittsburgh snatched the cup from our hands in the game’s final minute, had the roundabout effect of screwing me tighter into my faith. The Paraclete’s proxy in this case was [Read More...]

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Father of Mine: A Lenten Reflection

If you grew up in an average occidental family, chances are excellent that at some point in your childhood, one of your parents threw open the door and screamed, “I’ve had it up to here with you kids! I’m leaving! You all can eat roots and berries or each other or the stinking dog for [Read More...]

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