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Exorcising Demons

From the January 1997 Print Edition

Sin and Censorship: The Catholic Church and the Motion Picture Industry By Frank Walsh. Yale University Press, 394 pages, $35 Few of the Catholics who in the 1930s and 1940s stood up at mass to pledge their willingness to let the Legion of Decency decide which movies they would not see were in no . . . . Continue Reading »

Choosing Abundance

From the October 1996 Print Edition

The late avant-garde composer John Cage once urged as a basic principle that we “choose abundance rather than scarcity. Be wasteful, rather than pinchpenny. Get as much as you can out of all there is to be had. Have it even if you don’t use it, or even if you use it badly as a gadget.” . . . . Continue Reading »

Living with Numbers

From the June/July 1995 Print Edition

After suffering through elementary arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and trigonometry it is easy to believe with the Pythagoreans that everything is number, or with St. Matthew that “the very hairs of your head are numbered.” Inclined as they were to be mystic about their numbers, the Pythagoreans . . . . Continue Reading »

The Necessary Devil

From the November 1993 Print Edition

According to a recent Gallup poll, 52 percent of people say they believe in the Devil. One can imagine that this slim majority is not good news for the Devil, who after all is not running for public office. In the Christian tradition he is utterly insatiable and wants it all. But he may be more . . . . Continue Reading »

Saving the World

From the May 1993 Print Edition

In the Fall 1991 issue of New Perspectives Quarterly , which is very usefully devoted to the problems of unity and diversity in the contemporary world, Isaiah Berlin observes that the twentieth century is “the worst century that Europe has ever had.” Certainly there is widespread agreement that . . . . Continue Reading »

Suffering Humanity

From the October 1991 Print Edition

It is not hard to imagine the common sense reaction to the news that a distinguished historian had attempted to cover the history of human suffering in a little over two hundred pages. What have humans ever thought, done, or made that is not directly or indirectly involved with suffering in one or . . . . Continue Reading »