November 25, 2015

It was the night before Thanksgiving, 2006. I was walking the three miles and change home from the ASU student library, where I’d been using one of the public computers. North of the Mill Avenue Bridge spanning the Tempe Town Lake, the scenery turns almost bucolic, with the desert of Papago Park, to the North and East, practically spilling onto the sidewalk. It also turns almost pitch black. As I approached the parking lot of the Rolling Hills Golf Course,... Read more

November 22, 2015

In the summer of 2002, Brent Scowcroft published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal under the self-explanatory title “Don’t Attack Saddam.” His analysis was as incisive and free from partisan malice as one might expect from a former Air Force lieutenant-general and national security adviser to two Republican presidents. Someone must have paid attention. I didn’t. The antiwar case that penetrated my consciousness came from the likes of Michael Moore and Natalie Maines, from protestors carrying signs reading... Read more

November 20, 2015

ISIS’s magazine, Dabiq, preaches mainly to the choir. As Robert Evans observes in Cracked, its copy is clogged with jargon and Scripture. “Most articles,” he writes, “start with a solid two or three paragraphs of ‘all this happened only by God’s will’, ‘praise Allah for granting us victory’.” In ISIS-speak, all Westerners are “crusaders,” so I will say with perfect knightly courtesy that there’s no excuse for this. Piety need not rule out accessibility. The Wanderer kept Joe Sobran on... Read more

November 17, 2015

Last night in a Facebook PM session, my friend Mohammed told me that he recently overheard his kids arguing in Turkish. His son’s nine, his daughter, I believe, is five. They’ve been living in Turkey for no more than two years, and Arabic — as all the world can now agree — is a fine idiom for delivering what the Supreme Court called “vigorous epithet and hyperbole.” (Even I know a couple of terms that should only be bandied about... Read more

November 16, 2015

In the days before e-mail, dashing off a few words to a friend or a newspaper editor could mean receiving a classic in return. In the theological realm, the New York Sun editor’s assurance to Virginia O’Hanlon that, yes, there is a Santa Claus, ranks just below St. Paul’s epistles. Imagine Charles-Jean- François Depont’s surprise at writing Edmund Burke for his take on current events and getting back Reflections on the Revolution in France. In Bosie Douglas’ case, it was... Read more

November 14, 2015

In Mesa, Arizona, three days after al-Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center, an armed man walked into the grocery store owned by Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh, and shot him dead in the mistaken belief that Sodhi was a Muslim. Let it be said boldly and up front that Islamophobia is real. Let’s also pause to recognize that it exacts a terrible toll even on people lucky enough not to be shot, or beaten, or insulted. Sodhi’s murder reduced my... Read more

November 14, 2015

In the fall of 1914, the Welshman Arthur Machen published a short story titled “The Bowmen,” which ascribes a supernatural cause to the German setback at Mons. Just as the Germans are about to overrun his position, a rifleman serving with the British Expeditionary Force recalls the Latin motto “Adsit Anglis Sanctus Georgius” – “May Saint George be a present help to the English.” He takes to reciting it as he fires his last remaining rounds into “the grey advancing... Read more

November 12, 2015

It suddenly occurred to me that I’m endorsing Starbucks on this blog by sporting a photo of its logo behind the title. If that helps win me a reputation for staying calm through cultural upheaval, that’ll be lovely. At this point, most of the people I know are pretty devout Christians, the kind who name their kids after Church fathers and get defensive about celebrating Halloween. None of them is exercised at having to drink from a plain red cup.... Read more

November 11, 2015

A few years ago, Monsignor Charles Pope wrote a short essay defending the use of martial imagery in hymns and homilies. If tradition carries any weight, the case for is a slam-dunk – or, as the old bomber crews used to say, a milk run. As Pope observes, St. Paul himself mentioned weapons and trumpets, demolishing strongholds, taking captives and putting on the armor of God. But it’s easy to understand the uneasiness such imagery causes certain people. St. Paul... Read more

November 11, 2015

Boy, am I ever out of touch. Yesterday, when I begged compassion and mercy on behalf of the so-called “Shrieking Girl,” the Yale senior caught on video berating Silliman College Master Nicholas Christakis, I was working from the assumption that she had set herself up for a big fall. She’ll suffer, my reasoning went, not least through her own conscience. Why aggravate an individual’s trials in order to score points in a culture war? Well, at the moment, whatever fall... Read more

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