The Making of a Misleading Metaphor

The sturdiest storyline in the coverage of the canonization of two popes last Sunday was a narrative that claimed that Pope Francis yoked the two in a single ceremony because he wanted to unite the conservative and progressing wings of the Catholic Church—as represented by John XXIII (favored by progressives) and John Paul II (ditto by conservatives). That was the narrative in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and among several Catholic pundits who really should have known better. . . . Continue Reading»

The Difference Easter Makes

One of the striking things about the Easter and post-Easter narratives in the New Testament is that they are largely about incomprehension: which is to say that, in the canonical Gospels, the early Church admitted that it took some time for the first Christian believers to understand what had happened in the Resurrection, and how what had happened changed everything. Continue Reading »

Why We Should Welcome Abortion Narratives

A few recent efforts have emerged to encourage women who have had an abortion to tell their stories. Take the 1 in 3 Campaign, for example, whose mission is to “start a new conversation about abortion” and to “create a more enabling cultural environment for the policy and legal work of the abortion rights movement.” Or New York Magazine’s “My Abortion” article in November of 2013 that allowed twenty-six women to give first-person accounts of their abortion stories. Or, more recently, the title essay in Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams, where she recounts the story of her abortion. Abortion rights advocates hope that this will change the minds of those who wish to restrict abortion. Continue Reading »

Mad Men Goes Meta

Readers of a certain age may remember a television commercial about a boy, a bottle of ketchup, and a hamburger: In alternating close-ups, viewers witnessed the condiment’s slow descent and the boy’s ever-heightening expectancy, all while Carly Simon’s “Anticipation” blared seductively in the background. The ketchup poured; the burger was put to the bite: “Worth the wait,” we were told. Continue Reading »

How to Tell Time in Heaven

Heaven is hard to conceptualize in terms of space and time. For instance: What kind of memories will we retain? Given that our lives are riddled with sin, the bad things we have done, as well as the bad things that have been done to us, are a large part of who we are. That is true even when we accept God’s free offer of forgiveness, since we cannot simply eliminate our memories without falsifying our identities. Continue Reading »

Editing Each Other

I am an editor. My job is to improve manuscripts submitted by authors and prepare them for publication. I approach every new piece sceptically. I probe. I attack. I play devil’s advocate. I search for error and dispose of it. Often I rely on instinct. Even when I can’t initially diagnose a problem within a text, I can sense when something’s wrong. In such cases I have to work backward to find the answer. This process can be tricky. Writers have egos. Everyone has preferences. There is no right or perfect way to compose a sentence or structure an argument. Continue Reading »

John Paul II’s American Legacy

If ever there was a pope of global stature it was St. John Paul II. He took the message of the Gospel to every corner of the earth, travelling to over one hundred countries during his twenty-six year pontificate, combining modern means of communication with a strong personal charisma. When he visited America, he had a memorable impact, inspiring Catholics who became “the John Paul II generation.” Continue Reading »

Easter Raised an Octave

Sunday is the octave of Easter, which commemorates the eighth day after Jesus’s resurrection from the dead. An octave is a repetition, but a repetition with difference. It’s not the first note played again, but the first note at a higher pitch. Continue Reading »

Clearing the Waters

had the privilege of working for Blessed John Paul II for nine years. As a young priest, I worked in the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, and my boss, or perhaps my boss’s boss, was Pope John Paul II. Continue Reading »