Michael Novak by the Sea

From the May 2017 Print Edition

Once upon a time there was a lion . . . and the lion had a voice like a lamb. The day Michael Novak died, that unbidden couplet mysteriously wrote itself into my head. Now it’s stuck there like a song that won’t go away. Maybe it lingers because I always thought of Michael as a lion, a metaphor . . . . Continue Reading »

The New Intolerance

From the March 2015 Print Edition

In November, Cardinal Walter Kasper gave a speech at the Catholic University of America in which he said, “Mercy has become the theme of [Pope Francis’s] pontificate. . . . With this theme, Pope Francis has addressed countless individuals, both within and without the Church. . . . He has moved . . . . Continue Reading »

Revolving Revolutions

From the Aug/Sept 2013 Print Edition

The mariners of the sixteenth century could not have imagined that people would ever cross the ocean in anything but a ship. Not only technological facts but also moral facts can seem im­pervious to change. In many sophisticated precincts into the nineteenth century, few objected to child labor, . . . . Continue Reading »

Bacchanalia Unbound

From the November 2010 Print Edition

Cynics will say it was ever thus, and this time the cynics will be wrong. There are indeed some new things under the sun or—perhaps more accurately, given the nocturnal nature of the beast—under the moon in higher education these days. Welcome to the halls of Toxic U, a school of experiential . . . . Continue Reading »

The Weight of Smut

From the June/July 2010 Print Edition

As the impressively depressing cover story “America the Obese” in the May issue of The Atlantic serves to remind us all, the weight-gain epidemic in the United States and the rest of the West is indeed widespread, deleterious, and unhealthy—which is why it is so frequently remarked on, and an . . . . Continue Reading »

The Loser Letters

From Web Exclusives

I hope you guys all know that it’s a bit daunting having this much expert firepower trained on my little book“kind of like having the National Symphony Orchestra sit in on a first grader’s piano recital. I can only hope that if in the course of the book, or this talk, I commit any literary sins of the theological variety, all the eminent religious leader here will just do the obvious Christian thing”and keep quiet about them. Remember, it’s Lent… . Continue Reading »

Christianity Lite

From the February 2010 Print Edition

Once in a while comes an historical event so momentous, so packed with unexpected force, that it acts like a large wave under still water, propelling us momentarily up from the surface of our times onto a crest, where the wider movements of history may be glimpsed better than before. Such an event . . . . Continue Reading »

Karen Novak, 1938–2009

From the November 2009 Print Edition

I almost emailed Karen today. It’s just part of how we live now, that electronic tic. There was a story I wanted to tell her, a small knot of thought that had been nagging for weeks and finally had gotten untied in a way that I thought would amuse her. So I tapped the key that would bring up . . . . Continue Reading »