The Meaning of Christian Mercy

When Pope Francis announced his Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, now underway, he accompanied it with a beautiful papal bull, Misericordiae Vultus, which disappeared almost as soon as it was issued.Fortunately, in his new book, The Name of God is Mercy, co-authored with Andrea Tornielli, Francis . . . . Continue Reading »

Authority, Given and Received

When Pontius Pilate warns Jesus that he has authority over life and death, Jesus reminds him, “you would have no authority over me, unless it had been given from above” (John 19:10–11). At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus assures his disciples that “all authority has been given to me in . . . . Continue Reading »

The Cardinal Virtues & The Walking Dead

An academic friend was visiting from abroad, and after a day of talks and teaching, we wound down around ten o’clock at night. Noticing my exhaustion, he offered a secret to decompression. “Zohmbies, Mahtt,” he counseled in his inimitable Greek accent. So it was that I tuned into my first . . . . Continue Reading »

Falstaff the Prophet

His face boasts a geological set of wrinkles, which fold seismically with each witticism or bold-faced lie he speaks. His body is impossible, too fat for any man to still be alive, yet there he is. Somehow both old as the hills and joyful as the sun, his greatest lie is the one he seems (almost) to . . . . Continue Reading »

Devotio Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino once said, “Movies are my religion and God is my patron,” and yet, his movies can hardly be considered religious. Tarantino’s cinematic universe is characterized by unmitigated violence, terror, and a prolific theme of human self-destruction.

Dear Father: Please Stop It

In all the sixteen documents of the Second Vatican Council, is there any prescription more regularly violated than General Norm 22.3 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy? Which, in case you’ve forgotten, teaches that “no . . . person, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything . . . . Continue Reading »

Eastern Christmas and Egypt's President

Egypt’s Coptic Christians follow the Julian calendar in celebrating Christmas on January 7th of each year. For the second consecutive year, Egyptian president Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi surprised them with an exceptionally kind gesture, once again personally attending their Coptic Christmas Eve mass and . . . . Continue Reading »

In Honor of David Steinmetz

David Curtis Steinmetz, one of the leading church historians of our time, died this past November at age 79 on Thanksgiving evening. He spent most of his distinguished academic career at Duke Divinity School, where he was the Ragan Kerns Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the History of . . . . Continue Reading »

Spotlight on the Vulnerable

Any major American newspaper would immediately fire a reporter who was caught using composite characters or inventing quotations for his stories. Hollywood naturally plays by different rules. A film “based on” a true story is considered acceptable; “recreated” dialogue is the norm. We expect . . . . Continue Reading »