When Does Fundraising Become a Shakedown? — UPDATED!

Since yesterday, when news first broke of the conflict between Bishop Zurek of Amarillo and Priests for Life Head Fr. Frank Pavone, a number of readers have written critically of PFL’s funraising campaigns. On the Anchoress blog, one reader complains that her mailbox has been “flooded” with PFL appeals. Another provides numbers: “2-3 per week,” [Read More...]

A Lesson from Fr. Pavone: How to Behave on the Carpet

When I saw, on the Anchoress Blog, that Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life had been suspended from priestly ministry outside his diocese, my knee jerked right up. I’ll admit it: I thought: “Here we go again, another diva.” In my defense, the letter published by Bishop Zurek of Amarillo seems calculated, at least [Read More...]

Clinton Goes Vegan; Wild Pigs Invade Upstate New York

Okay, okay, there’s no obvious connection between these two events, unless you want to count cosmic irony. But by reporting on them together, I hope to snap readers out of their post-911 anniversary blues. First, Clinton: Yahoo! News reports he gave up meat, dairy products and eggs after his 2004 quadruple bypass, and has since [Read More...]

9/11 and Bleacher Bum’s Envy

Several weeks after 9/11, my friend and I went skydiving for the first and only time in our lives. As it happened, the airstrip was about 30 miles southeast of Phoenix, on a brown, scrubby patch of desert within sight of some half-dozen gnarled buttes. Give or take 15,000 feet, it could have been Afghanistan [Read More...]

City of Veronicas

Of all the Church’s dubious pious traditions, my favorite is the story of the Veronica Veil. According to the Acts of Pilate, while Jesus was being goaded and driven to Calvary, under the weight of His Cross, a woman stepped forward and mopped His face with her veil. Miraculously, the face’s image was transferred to [Read More...]

Santo! Subito! Per Tutti?

During my zeal-filled neophyte year, I sometimes daydreamed about going off to some faraway land and being killed in odium fidei. Impressed with my bravery, the infidel leader would cry, “Shabash, Max Bahadur! Thou wearest the cross of a Frankish dog, but thou hast the heart of a ghazi!” before taking a Khyber knife to [Read More...]

The Economy Makes Nebbishes

Forget patriotism — Schadenfreude is the scoundrel’s true last refuge. And I confess to my chagrin it’s my gut reaction to reading Hanna Roisin’s essay, “The End of Men.” Rosin begins by noting that three-quarters of the jobs lost were once held by men, and that more than half of American jobs are currently held [Read More...]

Dutch Game Show: “You Are the Weakest Refugee — Goodbye!”

If you’re a refugee, preparing to be deported from the Netherlands, you can become a game-show star. The show, called “Weg van Nederlands,” which can translate either to “Away from the Netherlands” or “Crazy from the Netherlands,” offers panels of five soon-to-be deportees a competitive arena in which to prove how well they’ve assimilated into [Read More...]

Was Al-Jazeera Reporter Treated Ugly?

Really, I have no longstanding grudge against Texas, the soil that yielded Buddy Holly, Larry McMurtry and (I assume) Texas toast, and which received Pee Wee Herman so hospitably during his big adventure. It’s true, for about fifteen years, I had a Texas-born stepmother, whom one of my father’s friends properly calls “cold as a [Read More...]

How to Write About 9/11

From a writer’s point of view, the only good thing about the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center is that it’s no harder a subject than the ninth anniversary, or for that matter, the fifth. As long as 9/11 remains within living memory, it should beggar the imagination. It’s [Read More...]

Why No Catholic Dominionists?

Ever since Jonah Goldberg pegged us for the fascists we are, we liberals have needed a new rhetorical cudgel. And we may have found one — Dominionist. Essentially, it refers to an evangelical Protestant who believes that God’s law — that is, Old Testament law — should be the law of the land, and that [Read More...]

MLK and the Politics of Poses

Maya Angelou has told the world, through the Washington Post, that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. looks “like an arrogant twit,” in his 30-foot high statue that stands on Washington’s National Mall. Angelou blames the condensed quote at the base — “I was a drum major for peace, justice and righteousness” — but [Read More...]

Haiku to the Saints

For a writer, self-promotion is a mug’s game. Last year, I made a hobby of haunting Fr. Jim Martin’s Facebook page, posting clever things in the hope that the great man would feel moved to take me up as a literary protege. “America Magazine is teeming with wonks, Max,” I imagined him PM-ing me. “What [Read More...]

Today’s Church: As Good for Liberals as it’s Gonna Get?

Having read the signs of the times, Antonio Celso de Queiros, bishop emeritus of Catanduva in Brazil, thinks the Church could be ready for yet another Vatican council. As he sees it, Catholics today are feeling the same mixture of “perplexity and hope” that characterized the Church in the waning days of Pius XII’s pontificate. [Read More...]

Novels of the Great Recession

For a long time, critics were in the habit of complaining that American authors had given up trying to write the Great American Novel. That is, they’d stopped trying to create plots and characters that embodied social trends with wide-ranging significance. In Balsamic Dreams, Joe Queenan writes: “Baby Boomer literati absolutely refused to go for [Read More...]

How to Really Give a Good Sermon

This week, via video, an America Magazine commentator plugs Fr. Roy Shelly’s formula for a good sermon. It should take up no more than eight minutes, and have a point condensable to a single sentence on an index card. I’m sure there’s plenty of merit in that, but still the idea tends to put my [Read More...]


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