No Purges in the Family

From Web Exclusives

Late last week, National Public Radio came under scrutiny for the controversial firing of their longtime analyst, Juan Williams, over remarks he had made while guesting on Fox News. While political pundits and personalities on both the right and the left seemed to find common ground on the issue … Continue Reading »

The Tolerance Disconnect

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In last week’s episode of the hit TV series Glee, the acerbic cheerleading instructor Sue Sylvester revealed to her Down Syndrome-afflicted sister that she stopped believing in God because of the way she, the sister, had been treated by people who saw her as “less than perfect.” “You were perfect in my eyes,” Sylvester said . . . . Continue Reading »

The Reasoned Loyalty of Catholicism

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In the weeks leading up to the beatification of John Henry Newman, more than one writer asked whether the Anglican convert might be embraced by some, particularly by progressives, as “the patron saint of dissenters.” Newman’s willingness to launch his spacious intellect into debate within the church … Continue Reading »

Cheating the Habit of Being

From Web Exclusives

In the mid-1970s, asked about her move from an updated habit to ordinary clothing, the teaching sister who ran our parish CCD program declared that the shedding of religious habits was a good thing because it emphasized that sisters were “nothing special, that we are all special in God’s eyes.” … Continue Reading »

Defending Christine O’ Donnell

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A week after her stunning upset in the Delaware primaries, I find myself in the odd position of defending Tea-Party-endorsed Christine O’Donnell, about whom I am mostly agnostic. O’Donnell is like Palin-Lite; half the experience, less bitter. In her favor, though, is that she appears to be utterly without guile. She projects the sort of wide-eyed-innocent openness that personifies American naiveté … Continue Reading »

The Twentieth Century’s Last Great Figures

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Almost from its first moments, the 21st century has been plagued by insecurity and doubt; the disputed election of 2000 has given rise to such a pervasive habit of political cry-babyist-conceit that a graceful concession speech has become the grown-up exception rather than the selfless rule. Tolerant America, which managed after the September 11th attacks of 2001 to make clear distinctions between peaceful Muslims and radical Islamists … Continue Reading »

The Eternal Shrug of Rome

From Web Exclusives

It takes a traveler mere minutes in Rome to understand why she is called the “Eternal City.” Speeding from the airport, the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica suddenly looms from beyond the Vatican walls and time seems to turn in on itself. Insta-communications and all the glories of the present age become as passing fanciesu2014the grass that withers and fades… . Continue Reading »

The Old Times, the End Times, and Glenn Beck

From Web Exclusives

Not being a fan of Glenn Beck’s, plans for his “Restoring Honor” rally flew rather under my radar nearly until the day was upon us. I wrote to a friend who is more attentive to Beck than I, asking, “What is this about, really, I’m not sure I get it.” Her answer was uncharacteristically vague and inarticulate… . Continue Reading »

Rhetorical Axes and Park51

From Web Exclusives

Assigned the task of silencing debate on the Park51 project, the press and the center-left punditry have decided to haul out the overused tar-brush of racism, by which they mean to depict 65 percent of all Americans”Americans who’ve lived quite peaceably with our Muslim population, with no mass lashing-out against women of cover, no desecration of mosques, no random acts of violence in the years following the attacks of 9/11”as “bigots,” “xenophobes,” and “Islamophobes.” … Continue Reading »