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...]

In Defense of Bloomberg

With no clergy officiating, New York City’s 9/11 anniversary ceremony is going to leave many people feeling deeply dissatisfied. And those people will have a point. When mourning the dead, it’s natural to call on professionals — people who speak to and about God for a living. This is particularly true when the lives of [Read More...]

Happy Strangers’ Day

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast has declared today, August 24th, to be Strangers’ Day. The idea, as you can see below from the cards she’s created, is to tell complete strangers how little they mean to you: I myself have improvised a few couplets on that subject: We both breathe air; we both have navels. [Read More...]

Messy Eaters, Unite!

Can you not stand the smell of lamb vindaloo coming from the next cubicle? Does the sight of a masticating neighbor chafe your eyes and ruin your mental feng shui? According to the Wall Street Journal, you’re not alone. In fact, you and your more fastidious colleagues may even be able to form — and [Read More...]

The Joys of Energy Self-Sufficency

This week in America Magazine, Thomas A. Massaro calls on his fellow American to lay down their car keys and get in line for a Metro Card. He concludes: I hesitate to recommend breaking entirely with the automobile. But to avoid the folly of getting stuck in unsustainable patterns of living, we must face up [Read More...]

For the Love of Living Latin

Here’s a perfect gift for the Latin scholar in your life: a whole summer resurrecting the dead language of the Caesars in the very shadow of the Colosseum. Today in Slate, Ted Scheinman reviews the Padeia Institute’s Living Latin — an eight-week “immersive” program in spoken Latin run out of Rome’s St. John’s University. As [Read More...]

Wanted: World Youth Day for Introverts

It’s hard to imagine Flannery O’Connor at World Youth Day. As a child, she marked the jacket of her journal with the warning “MIND YOUR OWN BIDINIS.” As an adult, she thrived in places like Yaddo and Andalusia, where people, by and large, did exactly that. Of the crowds on the New York City subways, [Read More...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X