Yes, Virginia, There Was A Santa Claus

From Web Exclusives

Nicholas, bishop of Myra and a saint in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, was born in the third century and died in the fourth. There, I said it. That he ever lived at all was questioned by some historians in the twentieth century. In due time, scholarly skepticism about St. Nicholas as a historical figure gave birth to the popular belief that he had been proven fictional, like Santa Claus… . Continue Reading »

Religion Reporting Descends into Meme

From Web Exclusives

On February 25, the Associated Press ran a story with the headline “Santorum Benefits from Mistaken Religious Identity.” What does that mean? To anyone passably literate in contemporary American politics, it suggests that conservative Evangelical voters perceive Rick Santorum to be one of them. I was expecting to read about the results of another poll. I was wrong. There is no poll… . Continue Reading »

The New Translation of the Latin Mass

From Web Exclusives

Within the mind of any single translator of a liturgical text, formal equivalence and functional equivalence are always at work, opposing each other here, cooperating there. Formal equivalence by itself would give you translatorese, the awkward, often inscrutable prose of the sort that crude translation software is apt to serve up… . Continue Reading »

When the Polish Dominicans Left Morningside Heights

From Web Exclusives

Priests from the Polish province of the Dominican order arrived in upper Manhattan in the late summer of 2003. In their consecrated hands, the Church of Notre Dame and the Catholic ministry at Columbia grew in holiness, a concept that must annoy diehard empiricists, because holiness can’t be quantified. It can’t even be identified with certainty through the bodily senses. Like love, holiness is hard to define accurately, and hence the reluctance to talk about it at all. Let me suspend my reluctance… . Continue Reading »

Why Study Biblical Languages?

From Web Exclusives

Wouldn’t it make more sense for English-speaking students to study Chinese or Arabic instead of French, German, or Italian, those modern European languages whose standing as curricular mainstays has outlived the case to be made for preferring them? … Continue Reading »

The Word, the Image, and the Ultrasound

From First Thoughts

In the great battle between word and image, readers of First Things , an unabashedly text-centric publication, probably tend to side with the word. I know I do, although around this time of year I’m reminded how sometimes words are not my friend and pictures are. On the anniversary of Roe v. . . . . Continue Reading »

Reconsecrating Santa Claus

From First Thoughts

David Mills sees in Santa Claus a confusion of two things “ that ought never to be confused or blended ,” Christmas as a secular holiday and Christmas as a Christian holy day. To honor that distinction, he would abandon to the secular side of Christmas what amounts to the most famous icon . . . . Continue Reading »