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Sent in the Spirit

In a few moments, we will lay hands on you to mark you as a minister of the Church of Jesus Christ. This is an effective ritual that achieves what it portrays and proclaims. Right now, you don’t hold pastoral office in the Church. By the end of the afternoon, you will. Our hands won’t declare that you already are a minister. They will make you one. You will be irreversibly changed. Continue Reading »

Organizing Unorganized Religion

There is apparently now an organization for the one-fifth or so of Americans who always check “none” on forms asking for their religious preference. Folks in this self-described category are called “nones” (pronounced the same as “nuns,” though something entirely . . . . Continue Reading »

Jews and the Persecution of Christians

In a  recent interview regarding America, Israel, and the wider Middle East, Malcolm Hoenlein, the long-serving head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, spoke out unequivocally against the persecution of Christians around the world and the West’s . . . . Continue Reading »

The Fashioned Self

This week, over 100,000 fashion insiders will gather in New York’s Lincoln Center for dozens of designer shows at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Copies of copies of copies of this year’s outlandish silhouettes and bizarre prints will end up in our closets a few years from now, and we will wonder how we ever thought them strange. You might not know, however, that the industry and the art Fashion Week showcases are just a few hundred years old. Continue Reading »

Andrew Cuomo and the liberal blacklist

Pete Seeger died on January 27, rich in years (ninety-four) and in honors (a lifetime-achievement Grammy, the National Medal for the Arts). His death rated a segment on the PBS News Hour, during which the inconvenient fact that Seeger had been a member of the U.S. Communist Party for years was . . . . Continue Reading »

Love Unleashed through Suffering

Thirty years ago today, Pope John Paul II released a work so important to him that he urged all the faithful of the world to “reread and meditate” upon it. He told World Youth Day participants that he wanted this work “to be a guide” for their lives. He even incorporated . . . . Continue Reading »

Pius Against the Oppressors

Pope Pius XI, fearless enemy of totalitarian ideologies and defender of Christian truth, died seventy-five years ago today. A champion of humanity before the forces of oppression, he remains largely, unjustly, forgotten. Few leaders were such scourges of Bolshevism as Pius XI. He first began to detest Communism in 1920, when he was the apostolic nuncio to Poland. That year, the Polish Army miraculously defeated the Soviet Union at the Battle of Warsaw. Most diplomats had fled Warsaw in a cowardly panic, incorrectly predicting a Bolshevik victory. The future pope was an exception. A true pastor, he refused to leave his faithful at a trying time and gave them spiritual support as they fought the Soviets. This forged a strong mutual friendship between Pius XI and Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, pre-war Poland’s leader and military genius. Continue Reading »

Lincoln’s Faith and America’s Future

Though Abraham Lincoln was neither baptized nor joined a church of any kind, he was the most spiritually minded president in American history. His faith was wrought on the anvil of anguish, both personal and national, and because of this he has much to teach us in our own age of anxiety.Some historians interpret Lincoln as a proto-secularist, not only because he never professed Christian faith in a public way but also because he made a number of skeptical comments about Christian teaching in his early years. But it’s well to remember that even great people of faith, including Mother Teresa, experience dark nights of the soul. John Calvin once said that all true faith is tinged by doubt. Continue Reading »

Marriage, Sex, and Politics

On Saturday Eric Holder announced he will apply the recent Supreme Court Windsor ruling as widely as possible. “In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law.” Continue Reading »



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