Public Living, Public Dying

Clive James is dying just as he lived—in full public view. The Australian-born poet, critic, BBC television personality, Radio 4 presenter, translator, memoirist, journalist, raconteur, and wit is dying of leukemia and emphysema. James retired himself from television years ago, but at seventy-four he keeps very much in the public eye, as British newspapers report each new farewell poem he publishes. Continue Reading »

Knowing the Trinity

Richard of St. Victor, a 12th-century Scottish theologian, is not exactly a household name in 21st-century Christian circles. Truth to tell, I only know of him because of a curious conversation I once had with my friend, the late Richard John Neuhaus, who, as only he could, told me of a friendly discussion he’d had with Rabbi David Novak one summer about the Scotsman’s Trinitarian theology, which tried to establish by reason that God must be triune. (We talked about a lot of strange and wondrous things, up there on the cottage deck in the Ottawa Valley.) Continue Reading »

A Nation Pulling Apart

That my mother hated Jews was clear, although why she hated them was one of those shameful mysteries I doubt she could have explained had I asked her. What I heard, growing up, sounded like jealousy and resentment. As a waitress in a catering hall, she would serve at Bar Mitzvah receptions and then come home seething about the amounts of money she imagined the young guest of honor had taken in. Continue Reading »

Between Sweetness and Nausea

A few years ago I learned a new word. I wonder if you know it—ecotone? An ecotone is where two ecospheres come together—where they meet and merge into one another. The Mississippi River flowing into the Gulf of Mexico—that is an ecotone. Or imagine flying over the plains out West, and then you look up and there are the Rocky Mountains. Where the plains meet the mountains, where the current meets the tide—that is an ecotone. An ecotone is always a place that is fragile, unstable, shifting, fluid, risky, filled with danger and yet, at the same time Continue Reading »

Ferguson, Missouri

It pains me to admit it, but I see nothing new in the tragic events in Ferguson, nothing new in the protests, which often blended into festivals of destruction, nothing new in the extensive coverage and the calls for our nation to confront racism. It’s an old script, often replayed. Continue Reading »

An Open Letter to Richard Dawkins

You have a platform, Dr. Dawkins, an audience, and in some real way I’m very grateful that you drew attention to the pre-natal eradication of people with Down syndrome. But you made your point about the ubiquity of Down syndrome abortion in order to defend a terrible assertion. Continue Reading »

From Pro-Choice to Pro-Abortion

For decades, the never-ending abortion debate has been summarized by the dueling sound bites of pro-choice and pro-life. Very slowly, but lately more steadily, the fundamental premise of pro-life advocacy—that abortion not only stills a beating heart, but takes a human life—has resonated with the American public. Indeed, the New York Times itself reports that “one of the most enduring labels of modern politics—pro choice—has fallen from favor” as a means of furthering abortion rights policies. Continue Reading »