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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Crashing the Gate at Legatus

I am stalking George Weigel. His trail is very warm, let me add. The lion of the Catholic Right, the latter-day sage of Baltimore, former intimate of Blessed Pope John Paul II and author of A Witness to Hope, is standing big as life at the end of my pew in Phoenix’s Church of St. [Read More…]

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Ed Koch and the City I Almost Knew

One afternoon in June, the student body of my primary school trooped out to the section of Central Park facing Mt. Sinai Hospital to watch the faculty play the eighth-graders in softball, an annual tradition. Around the third inning, a very tall, very thin African-American man wandered onto the infield. In a sequence of events [Read More…]

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Cardinal Mahony: Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Guy

In the summer of 1945, following a three-week trial, a jury convicted Maréchal Philippe Pétain of treason and sentenced him to death. The verdict excited controversy. Though, in four years as France’s chief of state, he had created a generally repressive regime and collaborated with Hitler, there was plenty to be said in Pétain’s favor. [Read More…]

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The Horrors of Butting In

I’m probably attacking a straw man — or at best a stick man — but lately I’ve been hearing rumors that certain Catholics are growing suspicious of us converts. Instead of breathing new life into the Church, their reasoning goes, all we do is sow confusion and take blogging jobs away from good, honest cradle [Read More…]

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Nuts About Freedom

My house smells like tomcat. I don’t mean tomcat spray. Rusty, the stray orange tabby who began using my place as a flophouse last summer, pulled that trick exactly twice. Both times, thank God, he chose to mark the imitation hardwood floors of my kitchenette, and not the champagne-carpeted floors of my bedroom. No steam [Read More…]

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The $*(#$ing Power of Vulgarity

I don’t have my copy of Norman Mailer’s Armies of the Night on my lap. A few years ago, I loaned it to someone who took it with her when she drifted out of my life. But among the sections that have stuck in my head, more or less intact, is one where Mailer digresses [Read More…]

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