An Eminent Distortion of History

As the world marked the silver anniversary of the Polish elections of June 1989, which eventually brought to power the first non-communist Polish prime minister since the Second World War, a conference met at the Vatican to consider “The Church in the Moment of Change in 1980-1989 in East Central Europe.” Continue Reading »

Mind the Gap

Michael Lindsay, President of Gordon College, the Christian liberal arts college that I attend on Boston’s North Shore, co-signed a letter to President Obama, asking that he include a religious exemption in his imminent executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Gordon President Michael Lindsay wrote his name alongside thirteen others, including Michael Wear and Stephen Schneck, both involved in faith outreach for the 2012 Obama campaign. But within hours of the letter’s reproduction in the Atlantic, Gordon was hit by a wave of controversy. Continue Reading »

Religion in a Heart-Shaped Box

never have known the joy of owning a small, pink, heart-shaped music box. In point of fact, I never will. I suppose, with two daughters in the home, that the purchase of such a box might be in the fatherly offing, but it won’t be for my own sake. Continue Reading »

Presbyterians’ Procedural Problems

The 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will be remembered for its approval of same-sex marriage, but its most lasting effect may be the decisive victory of proceduralism—the displacement of substantive consideration by parliamentary process in the service of prevalent opinion. The church’s reliance on legislative procedures produces, but decisions do not necessarily signify agreement. Presbyterians are divided on a number of important matters, but proceduralism overrides differences by simplifying issues, hastening legislative decisions, and producing winners and losers. Continue Reading »

How Hugo Chávez Became the New Christ

As far back as the 1960s, the Marxist Sandinistas in Nicaragua began infusing their speeches and writings with religious terms, likening their namesake, Augusto Sandino, to Christ. Sergio Ramirez, a commandant in the Sandinista ruling junta in the 1980s, claimed that upon Sandino’s assassination in 1932 Sandino’s father exclaimed “those who become redeemers die crucified” and attested that the soldiers cast lots for his clothes. Even such bald attempts to claim Christ’s mantle appear nuanced in comparison to the massive campaign now underway in Venezuela, led by Nicolás Maduro, to proclaim his predecessor Hugo Chávez as Christ himself. Continue Reading »

Death, Again

Another intrusive death is rising in my life, and not just my own. He was a vigorous seventy-eight-year-old until last November. Then he experienced a fall, and another, and swiftly lost his motor skills. In the space of just a few weeks he quickly went from cane to walker to wheelchair to bed. Continue Reading »

Books for Summer Reading

Real readers read books all year round. But the convention of the “summer reading list” has become so thoroughly engrained in our culture that it seems appropriate to suggest four books-for-summer that will deepen any thoughtful Catholic’s faith—and any thoughtful Catholic’s perception of the challenges Catholics face today. Continue Reading »

Accreditation and Religious Colleges

In an essay for the Chronicle of Higher Education—my industry’s trade journal—Penn’s Peter Conn argues that the regional accrediting agencies, which hold the keys to federal student aid, should under no circumstances give religious colleges and universities their imprimatur. To say the least, Professor Conn is hostile to religion and appears to be utterly unacquainted with what happens on most “faith and learning” infused campuses. Continue Reading »