Normandy Thoughts For Veterans’ Day

ON THE MORNING of our last full day in France, we took an intercity train from Paris out to Normandy. For this journey, we were not on the TGV, France’s futuristic high-speed train system. We were on an intercity express train, which, despite not being a proper bullet train, still moved with dispatch out of [Read More…]

On Not Having Answers: an Exercise in Paralysis

I am troubled by all violence. I said this once to an Iraqi priest I had come to know and admire, and it provoked a look – almost with a start – of something resonating to the core.  I mention this not to suggest in any way that I can presume to speak for him [Read More…]

The Tired Logic of the Cycle of Violence

I’m not usually a big fan of Nicholas Kristof, but he has written a perceptive New York Times column on the symmetry of the rhetoric on either side of the Israel-Palestine conflict and its latest flare-up.  Perceptive, that is, in a way akin to pointing out the emperor’s nakedness: stating the obvious, which is less obvious than [Read More…]

Saint Martin of Tours and the Mythos of Militarism

Attending daily Mass this morning, I was reminded of two observances taking place today, in an ironic intersection of liturgical and national calendars.  For the Catholic Church, it is the feast of St. Martin of Tours, a 4th-century convert who experienced an irreconcilable tension between his Christian faith and his career as a soldier.  Meanwhile, [Read More…]

Choose This Day

A few days before Pope Francis’ heartfelt plea for peace in his Sunday Angelus message, President Obama took a break from gearing up for yet another Middle East conflict – audaciously being called a “humanitarian intervention” – to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the iconic March on Washington with these words in tribute to the unsung heroes of the [Read More…]

A Day of Fasting and Prayer

The pope’s Sunday Angelus message this week contained an important announcement: the proclamation of Saturday, September 7 as “a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world.” Here is his message in full, courtesy of Vatican Radio: Dear Brothers and Sisters, Hello! Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish [Read More…]

Al-Qaeda and the Christian Moral Imagination

The following is intended primarily as a thought experiment.  As such, I think it reasonable to request from the outset that it be given some thought.  Since I am addressing a highly charged subject that may evoke a variety of passionate responses, I invite those wishing to comment (and yes, this goes equally for those [Read More…]

Is Syria the New Iraq?

“All politicians take their decisions on the basis of national or political interest and explain them in terms of altruism.” –Abba Eban The ongoing crisis in Syria, especially in relation to the mounting speculations and now certainty of U.S. involvement, has been prompting a spate of comparisons to last decade’s debacle du jour in Iraq.  [Read More…]