Hiding My True Colors

In my misspent youth – which is to say until my early 30s – I used to visit the clothing-optional section of Black’s Beach, in La Jolla, California. The appeal wasn’t strictly exhibitionistic or voyeuristic, although of course it contained elements of both. Visits there were profoundly relaxing, and, being a naturally tense person – [Read More…]

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Obergefell and New Identities

I would not have known this yesterday, but reading Slate on the morning after an epochal culture-war defeat can be good for the soul. In her analysis of the dissenting opinions in Obergefell, Dahlia Lithwick makes a shrewd and pertinent observation. “Everyone,” she notes, “writes about how this decision will affect them and people like [Read More…]

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In Defense of Cool Old Symbols

Let me begin by agreeing that it’s time for the Confederate flag to be retired from public life. At the very least it should come down from the South Carolina State Capitol building. It hasn’t been that long since Appomattox; the time when segregationists raised the flag to rally their troops remains very much within [Read More…]

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Give Me A Palanca, and I’ll Move the World

Just this evening one of my readers PM’d me over Facebook and asked me to write a palanca for her husband, also a reader, who will be spending this weekend on a Cursillo retreat. She explained that a palanca is an encouraging letter written to someone who’s trying to deepen his relationship with God. Palanca [Read More…]

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The Rising Cost of Price Tagging

Last Thursday, after arson damaged the administrative buildings of the historic Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and fishes at Taghba, in Israel’s Galilee region, Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom promised to bring the culprits to justice. Even if Shalom spoke with sincerity, he can’t have spoken with confidence. The fire shows all the markings [Read More…]

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God and Dylann Roof: Beyond Strength and Weakness

Dylann Roof, who has confessed to gunning down the pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church along with eight parishioners, wavered at the last moment. Sources have told NBC News that Roof “almost didn’t go through with it because everyone was so nice to him.” In this case, “it” refers to his plans to stage [Read More…]

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In Charleston: AME Martyrs of Charity

Earlier today, someone set fire to the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha, in Israel’s Galilee region. Found scrawled in red paint on one of the church’s outside walls was part of a Hebrew prayer calling for an end to idol worship. No suspects have been named, but the crime [Read More…]

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Ramadan at the Mall

They say Ramadan opens with a rolling worldwide cannonade: each locality keeps its own cannon, which its top dignitary fires off, ushering in the holy month with a bang. If the Turkish city of Bursa observes this custom, I missed it. Instead, I recognized that Ramadan was close at hand when the Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen [Read More…]

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Rachel Dolezal, John Howard Griffin and the Dangers of Race-Changing

“Pray God,” wrote T.E. Lawrence in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, “that men reading this story will not, for the love of the glamour of strangeness, go out to prostitute themselves and their talents in serving another race.” By this, Lawrence didn’t mean that people should serve only their own races. He meant that serving another [Read More…]

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How to Live Near Section Eight Housing

Last Friday’s pool-party fracas in the Craig Ranch section of McKinney, Texas ended with Corporal David Eric Casebolt’s resigning from the McKinney police force after making an ogre of himself on video. But it is said to have begun with a volley of insults. Piqued at seeing her community pool swarming with unruly black teens, [Read More…]

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Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Single

With the vague idea that human souls enjoyed some kind of eternal existence, I have, lately, tortured myself imagining that God had assigned those originally earmarked for my kids, to Muslims. My Tancred, Guy, and Clothilde are now – I thought – embodied as Momo, Cherif, and Leila. Instead of taking top honors at Georgetown, [Read More…]

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What Cordileone Should Have Said

Last week, at a Sacra Liturgia conference in Manhattan, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone warned his audience that “gender ideology” threatens the foundation of the faith. To illustrate his point, he went on to list the “grand total” of 14 gender identities recognized by a major university, adding, “I’m sure even more will be invented [Read More…]

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Jenner Dysphoria

Caitlyn Jenner has more than two decades on me. Even so, when I look at that Vanity Fair cover, I feel ancient. Transgender, gender dysphoria, genderqueer, non-binary – all of these terms and the phenomena they describe are exotic to me. A few years ago, I suspect, they were still exotic to many of the [Read More…]

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Why I’m Still Catholic

I was raised Freudian. My father was a psychoanalyst; my mother had, at various points in her life, been an analysand. To hear David Brooks-type pundits tell it, every kid who grew up since Constantinople fell to Mehmet the Conqueror was suckled on lollipops and self-esteem. If only. In our house, it was taken for [Read More…]

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Conversions at the Phoenix Islamic Cultural Center

When I first met Paul Griffin on Friday afternoon in front of Washington Park, during Jon Ritzheimer’s “Draw Muhammad” contest, he impressed me as a very big man with a very big voice and very strong opinions. (He also wore a very big hat — I wondered whether he’d mugged Curious George’s guardian for it.) [Read More…]

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Phoenix: Civilizations Clash at Twilight

If you were up for some fun mischief – say, if you wanted to set off a whole bunch of M80s or tweak the nose of a major world religion – you couldn’t find a better place than the strip mall on 27th Avenue and I-17, in West Phoenix. Aside from a Denny’s and a [Read More…]

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