While We’re At It

• Richard J. Mouw has written a wonderful book, Called to the Life of the Mind: Some Advice for Evangelical Scholars (Eerdmans, 2014). A bright young student raised in a tradition of conservative Evangelical pietism, Mouw recalls that his pastors “often viewed the intellectual life . . . . Continue Reading »

A Fourth Francis

When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope in March 2013 many wrote about the significance of the choice of his papal name, Francis. Commentators insisted that this symbolized his indebtedness to the ideals of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis Xavier, the famous Jesuit missionary. He himself explained his choice of name with his profound veneration of St Francis of Assisi. But there may be an overlooked “third” Francis: St. Francis de Sales (1567–1622), the great master of spirituality, Doctor of the Church and bishop of Geneva. What do I mean? For both Pope Francis and St. Francis de Sales, Continue Reading »

Nonsense on “Sixty Minutes”

Sixty Minutes,” the CBS News “magazine” that helped redefine television journalism, prides itself on challenging conventional wisdom, discomfiting the comfortable, kicking shibboleths in the shins, and opening new arguments. No such challenge, alas, was evident in the program’s recent segment on Pope Francis, which aired last Dec. 28. Continue Reading »

Merrie Melodies and Magisterial Authority

For reasons I cannot fathom, Michael Winters of the National Catholic Reporter seems determined to cast himself as the Wile E. Coyote of contemporary liberal Catholicism. His elaborate efforts to capture his prey—his roadrunners are those “culture warrior” bishops (such as Charles Chaput of Philadelphia) and Catholic intellectuals who are too zealous for his taste in defending the Church’s teachings on life, marriage, and sexual morality—inevitably backfire, usually comically and sometimes humiliatingly. But he intrepidly keeps at it, hoping against hope, I suppose, that his next effort will finally bring success. Continue Reading »

Francis, Filtered

About a year ago, I suggested to one of the top editors of a major American newspaper that his journal’s coverage of things papal left something to be desired, as it seemed based on the assumption that Pope Francis was some kind of radical wild-man, eager to toss into the garbage bin of history all those aspects of Catholic faith and practice that mainstream western culture finds distasteful. My friend replied, in so many words, look, you know how these media narratives are: they’re like bamboo. Once they get started, there’s no stopping them. They just keep growing. Continue Reading »