The Joys of Collusive Irreverence

When I say I have a crush on Thérèse of Lisieux, I’m two-thirds joking — but only two-thirds. The fact is, she reminds me of a woman with whom I carried on an extended flirtation just before leaving grad school. Both wrote beautifully, but in such girlish voices that it never occurred to me to [Read More...]

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“Hallelujah” in Alaska: Northern Christmas Lights

In most cases, playing Christmas music after Christmas is in even worse taste than wearing white after Labor Day. This video from Quinhagak, Alaska, demands a dispensation from that rule. The inhabitants of this village on the Kanektok river — major industries fishing and canning, per capita income $8,127 — pull off this masterpiece by [Read More...]

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Is There Life Without the Like Button?

Ah, Nemesis. Swift-flying, gimlet-eyed hangwoman of the gods. You really got me good this time, didn’t you, sugar? Friday started out just great: not only had I mentioned Michael Voris in an opinion piece without being lynched, the piece was actually turning out to be a hit. This I knew because every hour or so, [Read More...]

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Diary of A Wimp (Who is Catholic)?

In a recent South Park episode, an anti-statist milita group decides to strike a blow at the federal government, so its members arm themselves and seize a Federal Express store. The gag works because it’s plausible — some intelligent adults are just literal-minded enough to make a mistake like that. I belong in the Amelia [Read More...]

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Advice to Santorum: Remember the Catacombs!

It’s a shame nobody’s given Cardinal George credit for rhetorical restraint. When he warned of the gay rights movement evolving “into something like the Ku Klux Klan, protesting in the streets against Catholicism,” he might have been guilty of alarmism, but he was also evoking the Klan at its most endearing. It’s done worse — [Read More...]

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The Artiste and the Soldier Should Be Friends

Among the regulars on the right-wing discussion board where I provided some of the loyal opposition, no group was held in greater contempt than college students studying the fine arts. They were godless, self-indulgent, pampered parasites. The men wore women’s underwear; the women, who wore none, had boyfriends and parents arrested on false rape charges. [Read More...]

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Tintin and the Mystical Body of Christ

In his big-screen debut, Tintin won’t be picketing any abortion clinics, or testifying before Congress on health care and freedom of conscience. More’s the pity, too, because at a certain early point in his life, he might have jumped at the chance to do either. Like so many of us, the globetrotting boy reporter is [Read More...]

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Cautionary Tales for Adults

Seven years before Uncle Tom’s Cabin hit the shelves, a German psychiatrist named Heinrich Hoffmann published a compelling plea for racial tolerance. In Der Struwwelpeter, which promises “Merry Tales and Funny Pictures” for children, we find a gang of young Aryan ruffians teasing “a woolly-headed black-a-moor.” St. Nicholas (for some reason, called “Agrippa” in the [Read More...]

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A Merry Middle-Class Christmas

Bob, my mother’s boyfriend, will argue that Happy Days jumped the shark several seasons before Fonzie actually strapped on his water skis. In his view, the show’s lethal injection with schmaltz came the moment the Fonz sat down with the Cunninghams around their Christmas tree and read “The Night Before Christmas.” When the onetime breakout [Read More...]

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After Kateri, No More Flower Children

With a second miracle to her credit, Kateri Tekawitha’s 331-year wait for sainthood is finally over. It’s a great day for her and all the constituencies she represents, including Native Americans, women, laypeople, those suffering from facial deformities, Canadians and – I add with special pride – New Yorkers. Kateri’s birthplace, near present-day Auriesville in [Read More...]

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Oscar Wilde’s Tomb: Let Processions Come Hither

Oscar Wilde was a people person. When Patience, Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera spoofing the aesthetic movement, was due to tour America, Wilde contracted with Richard d’Oyly Carte to tour with it as a kind of undercard fighter. Before performances, he appeared onstage in knee breeches and lectured on the “English renaissance.” Whether or not American [Read More...]

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Oedipus in the Heartland, Choruses in the Combox

Last night, the Anchoress blogged on a peculiar prank that parents, in collusion with the faculty of a Minnesota high school, played on their kids. First, the kids, all star athletes, were given blindfolds and led into the school’s crowded gym. Next, each blindfolded jock received a kiss from what the write-up describes as his [Read More...]

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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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