The Devil and Whittaker Chambers

One of the intelligent people who seemed to share Scalia’s view of the Devil was Whittaker Chambers, the brilliant writer, ex-Soviet espionage agent, and Time magazine editor, who in February 1948 wrote an essay in Life magazine about a New Year’s Eve conversation between a pessimist and Satan. Continue Reading »

Children of Desire

My sister and I were preschoolers in the 1980s. Once upon an afternoon, our mother instructed us: If ever she were unable to pick us up and had to send another grownup in her stead, she would impart to that grownup a “secret word.” If ever a grownup approached us, neighbor or stranger, claiming . . . . Continue Reading »

The Moral Universe of Hannibal

A woman lovingly plucks a dead pheasant. A man places a human arm on a cutting board with care, readying his chef’s knife. A woman sinks into a bathtub, seemingly dropping into an abyss. A corpse is lifted on high, framed by wings made of broken glass.All these images (horrific, gorgeous, . . . . Continue Reading »

Fear of Children

In a scene cut from The Exorcist’s 1973 theatrical version, Jason Miller’s Fr. Damien Karras sits with Max von Sydow’s Fr. Lankester Merrin on the stairs of the MacNeil house, and the two Jesuits discuss why the child Regan has become a monster. Continue Reading »