Ask; They’ll Tell

I don’t imagine there will be much rejoicing in these quarters over the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which went into effect at 12:01 this morning. I had planned, by way of offering consolation, to blog on the career of Prince Eugene of Savoy-Carignan, whose armies won back a big share of Eastern Europe [Read More...]

Gamers Save World from AIDS

That’s a slight exaggeration. Okay, it’s a huge exaggeration. Still, it contains a solid grain of truth. University of Washington video game enthusiasts have succeeded in mapping the structure of the monomeric protease enzyme, which Yahoo! News calls “a cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses, a family that includes HIV”: Figuring out [Read More...]

Deaths the Right Will Never Cheer

Lately, GOP debate crowds have earned the reputation of being bloodthirstier than any mob since Constantine declared that Christians were for loving, not for feeding to wild animals. They erupted into cheers when Brian Williams reminded Rick Perry of the 234 prisoners he’d executed during his tenure as governor of Texas. When Wolf Blitzer presented [Read More...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

“If it Weren’t for You Meddling Kids”: Why Some Hate the Hikers

Something there is that doesn’t love a hiker. Specifically, there seems to be something about the Americans imprisoned for espionage after straying into Iran during a 2009 hike through Iraqi Kurdistan that really sets people’s teeth on edge. Karen Leigh reports in the Atlantic, “hatred has gone viral on the internet” since the news leaked [Read More...]

Georgetown: Conversions Down

We’re not hitting our numbers. That’s the gist of the latest report from Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. Numbers of non-infant entries into the Catholic Church have nosedived from a high of 172,581 in 2000 to 111,918 in 2010. Interestingly, there’s no obvious correlation between the decline and the clerical sex abuse [Read More...]


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