George Weigel is distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

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The Ecumenical Future

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The Evangelical Church in Germany is a theological muddle, being a federation of Lutheran, Prussian Union, and Reformed (or Calvinist) Protestant communities. Still, it must have been a moving moment when the Council of this federation met with Pope Benedict XVI last month in the chapter hall of the former Augustinian priory at Erfurt: the place where Martin Luther had studied theology, had been ordained a priest, and had, as the Pope put it, thought with “deep passion” about one great question: “How do I receive the grace of God?” … Continue Reading »

The Lay Reform of Church and World

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Two volumes recently published by Encounter Books address key issues in the New Evangelization. The first, Marcello Pera’s Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians, is another effort by a distinguished public intellectual to call our civilization back to its foundational senses. Pera, a philosopher of science, is also an Italian legislator who served for several years as president of the Italian Senate… . Continue Reading »

Tim Tebow and Christophobia

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Two weeks into the NFL season, ESPN ran a Sunday morning special exploring why the third-string quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow, had become the most polarizing figure in American sports”more polarizing than trash-talking NBA behemoths; more polarizing than foul-mouthed Serena Williams; more polarizing than NFL all-stars who father numerous children by numerous women, all out of wedlock. Why does Tebow, and Tebow alone, arouse such passions? Why is Tebow the one whom “comedians” say they would like to shoot? … Continue Reading »

9/11, Benedict XVI and Regensburg

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In the flood of commentary surrounding the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I found but one reference to a related anniversary of considerable importance: the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg Lecture. That lecture, given the day after the fifth anniversary of 9/11 at the pope’s old university in Germany, identified the two key challenges to 21st-century Islam, if that faith of over a billion people is going to live within today’s world in something other than a condition of war… . Continue Reading »

Father Barron’s Catholicism

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In the fall of 1972, a group of us, philosophy majors all, approached our dean of studies, Father Bob Evers, with a request: Under the supervision of a faculty member, could we build a two-credit senior seminar in our last college semester around Kenneth Clark’s BBC series, “Civilization,” which had been shown on American public television. Father Evers agreed, and we had a ball… . Continue Reading »

Russian Orthodoxy and Lenin’s Tomb

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Almost 40 years ago, an aging Anglican clergyman told me a story about his first trip to Paris as a boy”perhaps in the 1920s. His grandfather had called him in, told him that he had a gift to be used in the French capital, and then gave my friend a small pocket mirror. The boy, puzzled, asked his grandfather what the mirror might be for. The following dialogue ensued … Continue Reading »

The Gentlemanly Art of the Insult

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One of the (many) signs of our cultural decline is that verbal insults, these days, are almost invariably scatological or sexual, provoking a blizzard of asterisks whenever A wants to put the smackdown on B. Once upon a time, it was not so. Once, the ability to come up with a clever insult that could be repeated in polite society was thought an important, if not necessarily essential, component of being a gentleman… . Continue Reading »

In Praise of Peter Berger

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At the end of his new intellectual memoir, Adventures of an Accidental Sociologist: How to Explain the World Without Becoming a Bore (Prometheus Books), Peter L. Berger recounts a telling tale from his Viennese childhood: “… I must have been about four or five years old. For my birthday or for Christmas I was given the present of a very sophisticated electric toy train. One could control its movements through multiple tracks and tunnels across a miniature landscape. I had no interest in the mechanical wonders of this toy. Instead, I lay flat on the ground and talked with imaginary passengers on the train.” … Continue Reading »

Among the ‘Progressed’

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Thomas Merton is usually thought of as a liberal or progressive Catholic, which in many respects he was: he certainly tilted left politically, on civil rights and Vietnam; he wanted to explore new modes of monastic life, putting the Western monastic tradition in conversation with Eastern religions; he chafed under authority throughout his Trappist life; he had a strong sense of self, the twentieth-century equivalent of what the Reformation controversialists called “private judgment.” … Continue Reading »

Martyrdom in Pakistan

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Sixty-four years ago, on August 14, 1947, Great Britain’s empire in the Indian subcontinent was divided into the independent, self-governing Dominions of India and Pakistan. The division of the subcontinent into two states was bitterly opposed by the Indian Congress Party and Winston Churchill, but supported by the Muslim League (with Congress, one of the two major pro-independence parties in the British Raj) and the Attlee government, which had displaced Churchill in 1945… . Continue Reading »