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Prisoners Are Calling. Who’s Answering?

Prisons, at the very minimum are intended as quarantine; keeping cities and towns safer by removing criminals from their midst. But, in the opinion of one prisoner in Brazil, he’s more at liberty behind bars than out on the streets. Marcos Willians Herbas Camacho told one reporter, “It is you who are afraid of dying, not me. As a matter of fact, here in jail you cannot come in and kill me . . . but I can order to kill you out there.” Continue Reading »

A Prayer for Death

We tame the Lord’s Prayer. We have to, so it isn’t nearly as disturbing to us as an incautious reading would reveal. Certainly it is a comfort. We use it for everything. It is often the first prayer we learn in worship and frequently the last to escape our lips. Routinely, we use it to conclude church meetings. That may be a misuse, the prayer being more radical than a mere way to clear out the room, but I’ve done it too. Continue Reading »

John XXIII and John Paul II

Pope Francis’s bold decisions to canonize Blessed John XXIII without the normal post-beatification miracle, and to link Good Pope John’s canonization ceremony to that of Blessed John Paul II, just may help reorient Catholic thinking about modern Catholic history. For what Francis is suggesting, I think, is that John XXIII and John Paul II are the twin bookends of the Second Vatican Council—and thus should be canonized together. Continue Reading »

Mideast Christians, Dhimmis Once More?

Recently, an Islamist group in the Syrian opposition, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), captured the town of Raqqa and imposed on its Christian inhabitants the dhimma, the notional contract that governs relations with Christians in classical Islamic law. The dhimma allows Christian communities to reside in Muslim society in exchange for payment of a poll tax called the jizya and submission to social and legal restrictions. In Raqqa, for example, Christians have “agreed,” among other things, to pay ISIL a tax of $500 per person twice a year—poorer Christians can pay less—and to forgo public religious displays. Continue Reading »

The Conservative Road to Serfdom?

George Will argues that American politics is divided between conservatives, “who take their bearings from the individual’s right to a capacious, indeed indefinite, realm of freedom” and progressives “whose fundamental value is the right of the majority to have its way in making rules about which specified liberties shall be respected.” For Will, real conservatives favor an activist judiciary that will aggressively defend our “capacious, indeed indefinite realm of freedom” from the majority. Continue Reading »

Ascetic Aesthetics

One Hopkins is enough,” said the poet A. D. Hope. By this he meant: Enough with the oohs and ahs over beautiful creation, enough with the “arch-especial” and the “sweet especial,” enough with “all this juice and all this joy” and all the “froth and waterblowballs” and “ah! bright wings”—which allegedly are what we talk about when we talk about the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Continue Reading »

From Death to Life

Science teaches that the cosmological line between death and life is tenuous and fragile: Were the earth to wander beyond her normal orbit, her florid and rich life would be destroyed by excessive heat or cold. On our planet torrential rains or droughts are all that is needed to destroy vegetation . . . . Continue Reading »

The Joy of Orthodox Pascha

One spring, a few years before I converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, my wife and I vacationed in Greece. On the plane we became friendly with a happy elderly Greek-American gentleman who told us excitedly that he was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain (the monastic polity of Mount Athos) for Pascha. “Pascha?” I asked. “What’s Pascha?” . . . Continue Reading »

Beat the Establishment

The divorce papers of Democratic lobbyist super couple Tony and Heather Podesta show that for a certain class of people government is not a public service or a field for settling partisan disagreements so much as an opportunity for self promotion: “As a married couple who both lobbied they . . . . Continue Reading »

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