Elf on the Shelf: Scrupulosity for Unbelieving Tots

Today in Slate, Torie Bosch describes how non-religious parents are using the children’s book Elf on the Shelf to teach their kids terror of supernatural judges. The story, as the title suggests, features an elf who acts as Tsar Santa’s Third Section. The creature “keeps an eye on a family during the day, then flies [Read More...]

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A Depressed Solipsist’s Guide to Prayer Vigils

Having what a vocations director might describe as an active temperament, I have always, half-consciously, thought of prayer as a minimal, low-risk, nearly symbolic response to necessity or catastrophe. Like the person who hands a nickel to one of the ticket agents at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the person who offers to pray for [Read More...]

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Confession of Sam the Eagle

The folks at Fox have been wondering whether the Muppets are trying to “brainwash kids against capitalism.” If they’d done their homework – if they’d checked the Verona Project transcripts – they wouldn’t have to ask. KGB officers gave me a few prominent (if coded) mentions. They did as much for a number of my [Read More...]

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Catholic Jokes: Good, and Good for You

This evening, in honor of Fr. Jim Martin’s new book, Between Heaven and Mirth, my editor, Elizabeth Scalia, has put out an APB for Catholic jokes. Well, as it happens, I have a few to share. The first one I heard from the Dominican priest who baptized me. It goes like this: What’s the difference [Read More...]

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A Merry Post-Modern Christmas

Can anyone hear the song “Bells of St. Mary’s” without remembering the scene in Goodfellas where Joe Pesci drills Samuel L. Jackson through his occipital bone (just north of his sutura lambdodeia) with a silenced .45? Pesci fires; Jackson grunts and falls forward into a puddle of his own brains; Pesci hustles his partner, Frank [Read More...]

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The Lord is My Mentor…

Well, having lived through it once, I have to say that the new Mass translation isn’t so bad; isn’t so bad; isn’t so grievously bad. Of course, I’m not speaking here as a Latin scholar. I already managed to tackle one language — Russian — where nouns come in an unnatural variety of genders. Frankly, [Read More...]

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A Cardinal’s Brutal Homily

My mother lives on the second floor of a high-rise apartment building on West End Avenue. Back in the 1990s, she and her boyfriend bought themselves a bird feeder built in the style of a Swiss chalet, and hung it outside their kitchen window. One of the first regular diners was a resplendent male cardinal, [Read More...]

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Pepper-Spray Cop and the Humor of Despair

Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams thinks very highly of the “Pepper-Spray Cop” internet meme, which in its various forms spoofs UC Davis police officer John Pike. Last Wednesday, Pike was captured on video, pepper-spraying a row of demonstrators, who were sitting with limbs interlocked to protest the removal of their tents. Now, thanks to Photoshop and [Read More...]

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Autism: The Result of Math Whiz X 2?

If you’re Jenny McCarthy, you blame autism on vaccinations. If you’re Michael Savage, you blame it on a decline in Yiddish Billingsgate among fathers. Now, if you’re Cambridge University professor Simon Baron-Cohen — yes, cousin of Sacha, the genius behind Ali G., Borat and Bruno — you believe it might result from interbreeding among members [Read More...]

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Tomorrow’s Sex Ed: Better than Porn?

My father learned about sex — the theory, that is, not the practice — from reading Irv Shulman’s Amboy Dukes. Published in 1947, two years before the old man was bar mitzvah, it billed itself as “The Toughest Novel Ever Written About Juvenile Delinquent Gangs.” Several years later, my mother learned the facts of life [Read More...]

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Aging and Single, Self-Reproachful and Relieved

You know you’re in extremis as far as marriageability goes when you find yourself composing sonnets to the memories of women you met and knew — against your own wishes, exclusively — through social media: The first “Like” after each posting is mine; A blogger self-promotion makes or breaks. Far more than talent, moxie’s what [Read More...]

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Andrew Sullivan: Model of a Modern, Bearded, Gay, Tory Blogger

I don’t read Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish on a daily basis, or even on a weekly basis. (God knows nothing I’ve ever written has turned up in it.) But most of what I’ve seen, I’ve liked. Sullivan was one of the first to recognize the musical “Book of Mormon” as a backhanded salute to faith [Read More...]

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Ode to New Contact Lenses

Reader, today I have a follow-up appointment with the eye doctor. Hopefully, I’ll crank out something substantial after getting back. For now, here are a few lines of hastily written verse to explain how my life has changed. I suspect a few of you will be able to relate. If seeing is believing, Then, mama, [Read More...]

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Would You Like Some Precious Blood with That, Sir?

I’ve found at least one advantage in having the Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted as my prelate and prince. The man has a rep. Over the past eight years, since he first succeeded the Most Reverend Thomas J. O Brien as bishop of Phoenix, Arizona, his stern approach to governance has given rise to a [Read More...]

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Spambots Say the Darndest Things

On the day the tech guy upgraded my blog, the following comment turned up in my queue, posted under the name “Daily Deals” : Outstanding weblog here! Additionally your web page loads up quick! What host are you currently employing? Can I get your affiliate hyperlink for your host? I wish my website loaded up [Read More...]

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The Sound of Sweet Idiocy

Kvetched Emily Dickinson: There’s a certain slant of light, On winter afternoons, That oppresses, like the weight Of cathedral tunes. Well, duh. Afternoon winter light is supposed to be depressing, reminiscent of death and — so to speak — all that sort of rot. It’s only when the sound of “The Sound of Music” can [Read More...]

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