Warnings to believers in a consumer culture

Since the goal was to explore the cultural ties that bind, Father John Kavanaugh asked the young Catholics in a St. Louis classroom a basic civics question: How many national and world leaders could they name?The Jesuit didn’t allow the seventh graders to include celebrities and entertainers, which meant that actor Tom Cruise didn’t make the list. In the end, they ended up with 12 names."You started off with the pope and the president, of course. Then things got harder after that," said the S … [Read more...]

Seeking the hipster antithesis

Christopher Kerzich is preparing to permanently embrace a truly retro, timeless look.The basics -- black jacket, black pants and black shirt -- will be stark and radical, providing a kind of "this is who I am" vibe. Black fedoras, scarves and long overcoats are optional. For accessories, he'll have a silver cross and a white collar.In other words, Kerzich is a seminarian at the North American College in Rome, preparing for his 2014 ordination as Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of … [Read more...]

Titanic sermons, a century later

The White Star Line publicists pulled out all the stops when promoting the Titanic and its sister ship the Olympic, even claiming in one brochure that these giants "were designed to be unsinkable."By the time Titanic put to sea, this language had evolved into a boast -- reportedly shared with passengers -- that "God Himself couldn't sink this ship."Thus, when the liner sank on April 15, 1912, preachers on both sides of the Atlantic were among the first commentators to raise their voices in … [Read more...]

Glimpse of Bono as a young believer

One thing was clear, back in the winter of 1982. No one at the famous Record Service store near the University of Illinois campus could figure out the hot new Irish band that was about to hit town.The guy behind the front desk cranked up the group's new single so that everyone could ponder the lyrics."I try to sing this song," sang the young singer called Bono Vox. "I, I try to stand up, but I can't find my feet. I, I try to speak up, but only in you I'm complete. Gloria, in te domine. … [Read more...]

Steve Jobs, saint of the ’60s

It was in 1994 that author Umberto Eco, drawing on his studies in symbols and philosophy, looked at the evolution of personal computers and saw theology, doctrine, spirituality and, yes, icons.The modern world, he argued in the Italian magazine Espresso, was divided between Macintosh believers and those using the Microsoft disk operating system. The DOS world was "Protestant, or even Calvinistic" since it demanded "difficult personal decisions" and forced users to master complicated codes and … [Read more...]

God, Barbies and girlie girls

It's a question that can cause tension and tears in a circle of home-school moms in a Bible Belt church fellowship hall.It's a question that can have the same jarring impact in a circle of feminist mothers in a Manhattan coffee shop.Here it is: Will you buy your daughter a Barbie doll? Other questions follow in the wake of this one, linked to clothes, self esteem, cellphones, makeup, reality TV shows and the entire commercialized princess culture.The Barbie question is not uniquely … [Read more...]

From Denver to the Main Line

Call it the "Rocky Mountain Time Zone syndrome."Journalists in the region know that it's scandalously rare for news events and trends that break in the Rocky Mountain West to gain traction in the elite news outlets of the urban Northeast and the West Coast.But the massacre at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 was different. The national press came to Littleton, Colo., and stayed -- forced to wrestle with ancient questions of good and evil, as framed in the unfathomable acts of … [Read more...]

Angels and Damon (and free will)

When searching for big ideas, a Hollywood screenwriter can't dig any deeper than "The Epic of Gilgamesh."This collection of Sumerian legends is at least 4,000 years old and is among the world's earliest known stories. Yet this Urak king wrestles with questions that haunt heroes today. Am I free? Am I doomed? Can I fight my fate?At a key moment, the "woman of the vine" tells the king: "You will never find that life for which you are looking. When the gods created man they allotted to him … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X