Looking the Dead in the Face

In December, 1960, a detachment of French Foreign Legion paratroopers killed three FLN rebels thought to be former harkis, or colonial soldiers, who had deserted to the enemy. To help military intelligence identify the dead men, Legionnaires beheaded the corpses — with a pen knife — and presented the heads to an officer, who photographed [Read More...]

Purgatory-Schmurgatory, As Long As You’re Hopeful

By the Council’s 25th session, when the Trent Fathers finally got around to the subject of Purgatory, they must have feeling tired and grouchy. After affirming that such a state exists, and that “the suffrages of the faithful” and “the acceptable sacrifice of the altar” work to detainees’ benefit, they drew a veil. “The more [Read More...]

Mourning My Father and (In Some Ways) A Gentler Time

I woke up Saturday morning in a funk. In itself, this is nothing unusual. But, over the next few hours, the funk thickened and blackened until, by noon or thereabouts, it had entombed me. It was one of those miasmic, suffocating funks that poisons all of my thoughts while they’re still struggling to get out [Read More...]


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