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An Eminent Distortion of History

As the world marked the silver anniversary of the Polish elections of June 1989, which eventually brought to power the first non-communist Polish prime minister since the Second World War, a conference met at the Vatican to consider “The Church in the Moment of Change in 1980-1989 in East Central Europe.” Continue Reading »

Religion in a Heart-Shaped Box

never have known the joy of owning a small, pink, heart-shaped music box. In point of fact, I never will. I suppose, with two daughters in the home, that the purchase of such a box might be in the fatherly offing, but it won’t be for my own sake. Continue Reading »

Mind the Gap

Michael Lindsay, President of Gordon College, the Christian liberal arts college that I attend on Boston’s North Shore, co-signed a letter to President Obama, asking that he include a religious exemption in his imminent executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Gordon President Michael Lindsay wrote his name alongside thirteen others, including Michael Wear and Stephen Schneck, both involved in faith outreach for the 2012 Obama campaign. But within hours of the letter’s reproduction in the Atlantic, Gordon was hit by a wave of controversy. Continue Reading »

For and Against Liberty

In 1969, Canada’s Criminal Law Amendment Act, known as Omnibus Bill C-150, was granted Royal Assent. Introduced two years earlier by Pierre Trudeau while he was still federal Justice Minister, the bill had sparked heated debate in the House of Commons and the popular press, because it proposed, among other things, to decriminalize homosexual acts, permit abortion and contraception, and allow government-regulated gambling. In the midst of shepherding this bill through the parliamentary process, Trudeau famously asserted that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” and that “what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code.” Continue Reading »

Unsolicited Advice On How To Find A Mate

In one of his lesser known comedies, playwright Neil Simon depicts the irrationality of undiluted physical attraction through the love-struck yearnings of Norman. A ’60s radical, second in his class at Dartmouth, and writer for a subversive magazine called Fallout, he falls hopelessly in love with the Star-Spangled and athletic Southern girl from Hunnicut who’s moved into his San Francisco apartment building. “I’ve become an animal,” he tells his friend Andy. “I’ve developed senses no man has ever used before. I can smell the shampoo in her hair three city blocks away. I can have my radio turned up full blast and still hear her taking off her stockings!” Continue Reading »

How We Portray Suffering and Suicide

Those of us who have never experienced severe physical disability have no clue about the depth of suffering it can cause. But NPR’s megastar talk show host Dianne Rehm does, up close and personal. Her husband John had severe and progressive Parkinson’s disease, leading him to suicidal despair. John asked his doctor for assisted suicide. Told that was not possible, he starved himself to death—a process that euthanasia activists call “voluntary stop eating and drinking,” or VSED. Continue Reading »

Winning at the Supreme Court, Losing in the Court of Public Opinion

With all the furor and dishonesty over the Supreme Court’s decisions on contraception and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it’s a good moment to think about what kinds of structural weaknesses the center-right has in public debate and what can be done to address some of those weaknesses. The truth is we don’t speak to nearly enough people often enough. Come election time, millions of Americans are not prepared to listen to conservatives—and the fault lies not with those Americans, but with the right. Continue Reading »

The Uses of Monarchy

Hereditary monarchy is not exactly a growth industry in the 21stcentury. But those who imagine monarchy to be useless in a democratic age might consider the case of Spain (a stable democracy that has just gone through a royal transition, with King Juan Carlos abdicating in favor of his son and heir, Felipe). It’s an intriguing tale involving an unlikely cast of characters: President Richard M. Nixon; General Vernon Walters; and the Spanish Caudillo, Francisco Franco. Continue Reading »

Summorum Pontificum, Seven Years On

Seven years ago this week, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated the apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, liberalizing use of the 1962 missal and affirming the continuity between it and the ordinary form of Mass. He stressed the seamlessness of the Roman rite in its two forms, the old and the new. In principle, the traditional Latin Mass does not divide the Church, he insisted, in response to the spectacle of Catholics dividing themselves over it, each side accusing the other of being divisive. Continue Reading »

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