The End of Advent

Christmas has devoured Advent, gobbled it up with the turkey giblets and the goblets of seasonal ale. Every secularized holiday, of course, tends to lose the context it had in the liturgical year. Across the nation, even in many churches, Easter has hopped across Lent, Halloween has frightened away All Saints, and New Year’s has drunk up Epiphany… . Continue Reading »

Dakota Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was always tense while I was growing up, and I don’t know why. Christmas, now”Christmas was mostly fun and presents and carols and laughter, as I remember. But Thanksgiving was arguments and huffs and recriminations and doors slamming and one indistinguishable great-uncle or another rousing himself from his after-dinner torpor to growl, “Now, now,” from an easy chair, puffing through his mustache like an irritated walrus as he loosened his belt another notch… . Continue Reading »


This is, in a sense, a footnote or an addendum to a column I wrote a few months ago for First Things Online called “The Gnostic Turn.” For my sins, I suppose, I subjected myself last week to all six hours (counting commercials) of the AMC/ITV attempted remake of the late 1960s television series The Prisoner. To persons d’un certain âge there should be little need to explain what the original series was. Somewhat dated in some of its features now, perhaps, and not to everyone’s taste, it was probably”at its best”the most perfectly realized fantasy ever to appear within the deadening confines of episodic television drama… . Continue Reading »

Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience

Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering. While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian institutions and communities in all ages, we claim the heritage of those Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing discarded babies from trash heaps in Roman cities and publicly denouncing the Empire’s sanctioning of infanticide… . Continue Reading »

Demands for Freedom

Roman Polanski was arrested for the decades-old rape of a child”and a bunch of Hollywood types defended him. Old news, at this point. But the interesting thing about the case is not that some people defended him but how quickly the tide turned against his defenders. The most leftist magazines and websites in America, which had once published pieces in praise of child sex, were among the most relentless at hammering Polanski… . Continue Reading »

Truth Not Covered

Jeffery Toobin, staff writer at the New Yorker and senior legal analyst for CNN, continues a well-worn liberal tradition in his latest Talk of the Town column, “Not Covered””that of accusing his conservative opponents of hypocrisy. Toobin, a fully credentialed abortion-supporter, is unsurprisingly distressed about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment that was added at the last minute to the final version of the House healthcare bill… . Continue Reading »

The Reality of Hope

After she died, it was as if I had broken my arm. A part of me ached all the time, and something that had been functional was now useless, and everything about my daily routine needed to be navigated differently. It was difficult, for instance, to stand in line at the post office or buy groceries or make dinner. Nothing seemed to matter anymore… . Continue Reading »

There’s Something About Bloody Mary

Mary I, Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon’s only surviving child, was the first Queen Regnant of England, Ireland, and Wales, acclaimed, crowned, and anointed in spite of an attempt to change the succession after Edward VI’s death. Yet John Foxe indirectly gave her a nickname that has obscured her achievement as Queen Regnant, highlighted in two of the titles listed below, for centuries: “Bloody Mary.” … Continue Reading »

Soul Sisters

The latter half of the nineteenth century was a time of crisis for Christian belief. In part, this was simply the result of a long process of secularization”political, social, and intellectual”and in perhaps larger part the result of new theories and new discoveries in the sciences… . Continue Reading »

The Art of Karen Laub-Novak

Last week I was introduced to the work of the late Karen Laub-Novak (1938“2009), on exhibit at the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. Only vaguely familiar with her and her work, I was curious to see how her art relates to the deeper questions of life and faith, and to see a collection from a successful, contemporary Catholic artist… . Continue Reading »