The Neglected God

Some years ago Nils A. Dahl wrote that God may be the “neglected factor in New Testament theology.” Destructive biblical criticism, exemplified for years in the work of the so-called Jesus Seminar, eviscerates the gospel narratives of all theological power and leaves us, at best, with a Jesus made in our own image—political agitator, cynic sage, new age guru, etc. The words of weeping Mary in John 20:13 are appropriate: “They have taken my Lord away, . . . and I don’t know where they have put him.” But the Jesus of the Gospels cannot be confined to the straitjacket of such pseudo-scholarly speculation. He bursts through those Scriptures today just as he rose bodily from the grave that first Easter morning. Continue Reading »

The Wrong Way to Respond to Critics

Last month, Jeffrey Sachs and Ban Ki-moon, arguably the most powerful proponents of abortion and population control in the world, were offered a platform at the Vatican during a conference on climate change.I asked the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, who helped coordinate the event, what he thought of the criticism directed at the Vatican as a result. Continue Reading »

Putin, Stalin, and the Church

On Orthodox Easter, just weeks before Russia’s 70th Victory Day celebration, Russian Patriarch Kirill addressed scores of the faithful, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. He likened the resurrection of Christ—who, in Orthodox parlance, “trampled down death by death”—to the Russian, née Soviet, victory over the Nazis.“When spiritual heroism becomes the substance not only of the individual but of an entire people... the nation acquires enormous spiritual strength, which no disasters or enemies are capable of overcoming,” he told those gathered in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. “The truth of these words is evidently attested by the Victory in the Great Patriotic War, achieved by the self-sacrificing heroism of our people.” Continue Reading »

The Real Immigration Challenge

Back in the 1990s, Newt Gingrich observed that every society faces an immigration challenge (this was when he was a somewhat more reliable ideas man). He said that there are geographic immigrants (who come from some other place), and there are temporal immigrants (who are born into society). It is . . . . Continue Reading »

Is Amending the Constitution Really So Difficult?

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard oral arguments on the gay marriage cases, and it now seems poised to impose a national marriage policy on America. This new national policy will likely restrict popular choice on a key cultural issue by preventing states from democratically preserving the traditional notion of marriage as being solely between one man one woman. Some will view this development as an illegitimate alteration of the Constitution through judicial fiat, while others will surely herald it as the proper understanding of the Constitution’s “aspirations.” The Supreme Court’s majority opinion will no doubt argue that the Constitution requires this decision, and it will do so in spite of overwhelming evidence that nobody who wrote or ratified one word of the Constitution ever contemplated a national gay marriage policy. Continue Reading »

Men Such as These: A Memorial Day Reflection

Like most denizens of Washington, I pay too little attention to the sites other Americans make sacrifices to visit. Earlier this month, though, prompted by reading James Scott’s Target Tokyo, a comprehensive history of the famous Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942, I strolled through Arlington National Cemetery in search of three graves.They were in Section 12, side-by-side, each marked with a headstone identical in its simplicity to so many thousands of others: William G. Farrow, Dean E. Hallmark, Robert J. Meder. Hallmark was the pilot of the sixth B-25 to take off from the pitching deck of USS Hornet, seventy-three years ago; Meder was his co-pilot on the plane they dubbed Green Hornet. Farrow was the pilot of Bat Out of Hell, the last of the sixteen planes to roar down the flight-deck of what President Franklin Roosevelt later called “our secret base at Shangri-La.” Captured in Japanese-occupied China, Hallmark and Farrow were shot by their captors on October 15, 1942, after months of torture and deprivation and a bogus “trial”; Meder died of starvation in a Japanese prison on December 11, 1943. All three were cremated, their names deliberately falsified on the urns that bore their ashes. The urns were properly identified after the Japanese surrender and returned to the United States, where they now rest, sheltered under a tree, down the hill from the equally simple grave of the flyers’ commander, Jimmy Doolittle. Continue Reading »

Of Magazines and Communities

On March 7, 2015, Randy Boyagoda of Ryerson College, R. R. Reno of First Things, and Raymond de Souza and Peter Stockland of Convivium, discussed the legacy of Richard John Neuhaus and the life of magazines in a panel discussion hosted at St-Jean-Baptiste parish of Dominican University College in Ottawa, Ontario. What follows is a selected transcript of their remarks. Continue Reading »

Is Vice More Interesting than Virtue?

Since at least the age of Milton, whose Satan in Paradise Lost allegedly outmatches the other characters in depth and dynamism, artistic depictions of evil have often been associated with power and interest. So it’s not surprising that many critics approached director Kenneth Branagh’s rococo new version of Disney’s Cinderella on the stepmother’s side. “Bad always sizzles more than good,” Manohla Dargis proclaimed in the New York Times. Other critics noted with genuine puzzlement that the title character manages to be compelling in spite of her moral goodness. Where is the dramatic appeal, they wondered, in a conventionally virtuous character? Continue Reading »

Maury's Silent Majority

Maury’s struggling to stay in character. Normally he’s the picture of paternal stability: amused but not belittling, hortatory but not pedantic, firm but not overbearing. This is why they seek him out in their most difficult moments, this parade of wounded people from cash-poor neighborhoods across the country. They flock to his sound stage in Stamford, Connecticut hoping to find the sort of judge, the sort of social worker, the sort of counselor—and yes, the sort of father—that they haven’t encountered elsewhere. Maury Povich gives a fair hearing. But even Maury is occasionally worn thin by the monotony of human weakness, and today is one such day. Continue Reading »