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Derek Jeter’s Enduring Legacy

As the World Series comes to an end, and with it another post-season, there was one noticeable absence: Yankee shortstop, Derek Jeter. During the last two decades, Jeter, the Yankee captain, has been a constant, larger-than-life presence in the playoffs and World Series, thrilling fans everywhere. But not this year. The usually proficient New York Yankees failed to even qualify for the playoffs, let alone the World Series, making the 2014 season-Jeter’s last-especially poignant.
When Jeter played in his final games in September, Gatorade Continue Reading »

The Rabbi and the Friar

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, whose death we all mourn, lived at Trinity House in Larchmont, a hundred yards from my late mother-in-law. Coming from Cologne, Germany, where Jews had good relationships with the Catholic Church, my late mother-in-law chose to continue that tradition. Whenever she cooked for the Jewish holidays, a portion was sent down the block to Fr. Benedict. Whenever objects had to be disposed of, they went to Fr. Benedict. In this way, everything, from used clothing to used cars, was recycled to the poor through Fr. Benedict. We always visited him on the days before Christmas with our children. Our youngest son came out of Trinity after a pre-Christmas visit and remarked, “It must be great to have so many brothers.” Another son went with him to distribute Thanksgiving Day meals to the poor. They made quite a picture, the friar is his habit and the young Orthodox Jewish boy in his head-covering distributing non-kosher meals to the poor on Thanksgiving Day. Continue Reading »

Blinded by Nostalgia

The twenty-first century has been a time of transition in American life. In our economy, our culture, our politics, and throughout our society, longstanding norms seem to be breaking down. Times of uneasy transition are often characterized by a politics of nostalgia for the peak of the passing order, and ours most definitely is. Continue Reading »

An Extraordinary Synod, Indeed

According to Vatican-speak, a specially scheduled session of the Synod of Bishops is an “Extraordinary Synod,” meaning Not-an-Ordinary Synod, held every three years or so. In the case of the recently-completed Extraordinary Synod of 2014, extraordinary things did happen, in the “Oh, wow!” sense of the word. And if this year’s Extraordinary Synod was a preview of the Synod for which it was to set the agenda, i.e., the Ordinary Synod of 2015, that Synod, too, promises to be, well, extraordinary. Continue Reading »

Is Latvia Putin’s New Target?

In May 2014, I attended an interfaith conference in Kosovo where I met Janis Priede, an associate professor in the department of Oriental Studies at the University of Latvia, located in the national capital, Riga. Having watched, from the Balkans, the Russian annexation of Crimea and further attempted partition of Ukraine during the first half of the year, I expressed my concern to Prof. Priede that Latvia, a member of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), could be the next object of aggression by Vladimir Putin. He agreed. Continue Reading »

A Tale of Targeting

I am a professor of English and Classics at Cal State-Northridge, where I began teaching in 2008 after earning my doctorate in English and MA in Classics from SUNY. I specialize in American literature and published a scholarly study of American writers and conservatism in 2011. Continue Reading »

Medieval Golden Age, Modern Barbarism

Earlier this year, as conflict raged in northern Syria, two professors, one Lebanese and the other American, both from elite universities in the Washington, D.C. area, passed the long night at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, drinking tea. They pondered the weighty issues of the region: whether the nation-state paradigm was the residue of colonialism or a reality to which nations of the Middle East must conform; American military engagement and its consequences; and, of course, the sources of violent extremism. At one point, the Lebanese professor lamented, “These extremists are the worst thing ever to happen to Islam.” The American professor casually observed that they wished to reject modernity and return to the Middle Ages. “But the Islamists are themselves modern,” the Lebanese professor responded. “The violence against ideas and freedom and the dignity of the person—this is all modern, not medieval. Islam’s Golden Age was actually fairly free and tolerant of diverse thought.” The American professor arched a skeptical brow.
Continue Reading »

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