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Harry Potter Is Famous

He’s renowned in the wizard world. There, everybody knows his story, the murder of his parents and the survival of the infant. Voldemort haunts this parallel universe of magic, so much so that his name is taboo, and Harry played a crucial role in that not so distant episode of revolt. What happened to him is fateful  Continue Reading »

“La Popessa” Speaks

She was called “La Popessa,” depicted as the iron lady of the Vatican, and said to have wielded more power in Rome than any woman in centuries. She is the subject of numerous books, movies, and even a musical—often more fiction than fact. But the real story of Mother Pascalina Lehnert—the life-long assistant to Pope Pius XII—is still not widely known. Now, thanks to the English translation of her memoirs, His Humble Servant, she speaks for herself, to a far larger audience. Continue Reading »

The New Focus on Children’s Rights

What do donor conception, surrogacy, divorce, and adoption have in common? According to the newly-founded International Children’s Rights Institute (ICRI), they are all practices which violate the rights of children to be born free, to be raised by his or her biological parents wherever possible, and to have a knowledge of the heritage of his or her biological parents. Dubbed “Bonds that Matter” for its focus on these beginning-of-life issues, the ICRI’s inaugural conference gathered scholars, activists, and students from around the country to Simi Valley, California last Friday to discuss the various ways in which these four practices violate children’s rights. Continue Reading »

Diversity as Slogan and Reality

There’s a mainline congregation I walk past on my way to the local Starbucks. The church’s advertising signals a key priority: “We value our inclusivity—whether you are young, old, gay, straight, single, married, partnered, all walks of life and all backgrounds and cultures—we welcome you!”There’s a mainline congregation I walk past on my way to the local Starbucks. The church’s advertising signals a key priority: “We value our inclusivity—whether you are young, old, gay, straight, single, married, partnered, all walks of life and all backgrounds and cultures—we welcome you!” Continue Reading »

Body vs. Brain

Facebook users have run across a quiz purporting to measure one’s mental age against one’s actual physical age. I can’t see the point of it but, so what, I took it anyway. Twice, actually—I was dissatisfied with the first result. Mental age is subjective and my subjectivity suggested something different than Facebook’s. Continue Reading »

Notre Dame Honors Russia’s New Martyrs

It’s sometimes hard to tell, this time of year, but there’s more going on at Notre Dame than football. Spirited debate continues about the university’s Catholic identity and what that means for everything from curriculum and faculty hiring to the campus master plan. Those involved in that debate can now take inspiration from an impressive new project mounted by the university’s library, which introduces English-speakers to some modern Russian heroes of faithful discipleship. Continue Reading »

The Thirty Years’ War in Italy

One could be forgiven for thinking that Gregory Hanlon’s The Hero of Italy: Odoardo Farnese, Duke of Parma, his Soldiers, and his Subjects in the Thirty Years’ War is titled backwards. The peevish, heavyset Duke of Parma, a minor French ally in the war against the Habsburgs, is certainly the protagonist of Hanlon’s book, but this is neither a biography nor a particularly compelling case for his heroism. Rather, it is an examination of Parma’s two years in the war, and its effects on the broad swath of people under Odoardo’s rule, command, or occupation. Continue Reading »

A Paradigm Shift in International Development

Someone from the international aid and development industry has some explaining to do. In an analysis of financial data from the decade ending in 2010, The Economist lists the world’s most populous nation, and six African nations whose total fertility rate is among the highest in the world, as being among the ten fastest growing economies. By 2015, according to IMF data, this elite list will include the two most populous nations and seven from Africa. Continue Reading »

Left, Right, Prudence, Principle, and Catholic Social Doctrine

A long-running battle between the so-called Catholic left and the so-called Catholic right concerns which political issues the Church should speak about and which ones she shouldn’t. One crucial distinction is that teaching the basic principles of Catholic social doctrine go to the heart of her charism, but she has no special expertise in prudential judgments about how to apply them. Continue Reading »

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