Bologna Revisited

What is the mission of a Catholic law school, and how do we achieve it? Fr. Michael Buckley’s book The Catholic University as Promise and Project sets out”very artfully, to my mind”the ecclesial context in which lawyers in Catholic universities should think about the religious dimensions of the institutions they are, willy-nilly, building up, tearing down, or neglecting, as the case may be. The title of the book also helpfully suggests the proper method in exploring this vital issue. “Promise and Project”: The promise must be specified before the project can have a chance of succeeding… . Continue Reading »

Upward and Onward

I had not known that Edward Upward was still alive until I read that he had died”a tad too late to compliment the man on his longevity, perhaps, but not too late to marvel at it. “He must have been ancient!” I exclaimed to my wife, who”with her customary Anglo-Saxon phlegm”ignored me entirely (which was for the best, of course, as she had no idea who I was talking about and wouldn’t have cared if she had). But I was quite right … . Continue Reading »

Loving Herodias

“Why do men chase women? Because they want to live forever,” said Rose Castorini in Moonstruck. Falling in love”really falling in love as opposed to going through the motions”means finding immortality through the mediation of the beloved. No clearer example of this can be found than Dante’s love of Beatrice, the Florentine girl he claimed to have met twice… . Continue Reading »

Searching for the Soul of Shakespeare

After three years of tests”tree-ring dating (to determine the age of the wood frame), x-ray examination at Cambridge University, and infrared reflectography”Stanley Wells of the Shakespeare Institute unveiled earlier this year a new painting of Shakespeare, the Cobbe portrait (1610). Scholars and non-scholars alike eagerly gathered around computer screens and televisions to see for the first time what might well be the dark-eyed, youthful, intelligent, and finely featured face of William Shakespeare, age forty-six. When it comes to Shakespeare, new evidence is hard to find, and everyone is interested… . Continue Reading »

Winning the War on The War on Terror

Does it matter that the Obama administration is now involved in “overseas contingency operations” rather than “fighting terror”? Is it important that our Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, refers to man-caused disasters rather than terrorism? And how about the news made by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, when she was asked about the elimination of the phrase war on terror: “The administration has stopped using the phrase and I think that speaks for itself,” Clinton said… . Continue Reading »

The Blessings of Betrayal

Dante reserved for the traitors the lowest circle of hell, the frozen river of Cocytus, where the divine justice submerges forever those who betrayed the people who trusted and loved them. As Dante tells us in the Epistle to Cangrande, however, the subject of his poem is not just the fate of the soul after death but, when “taken allegorically, the poem’s subject is man, either gaining or losing merit through his freedom of will.” Dante also wants to tell us, therefore, about the effect of betrayal on the soul of the betrayer in this life. In approaching that question, Dante says something astounding… Continue Reading »

The Christian World of Agatha Christie

In 1971, a group of British notables, both Catholic and non-Catholic, petitioned for the retention of the Tridentine Rite in England and Wales. As the story goes, Pope Paul VI read the petition and, arriving at the name of Agatha Christie, shrugged and agreed to the request. Such are the mysterious workings of providence, as manifested in the field of cultural history. The ‘Agatha Christie Indult’ may be the only occasion of a detective novelist influencing Vatican policy, although, given the popularity of the genre, it may not… . Continue Reading »

Reading In August

I love the long languid days of late summer. The lawns roasted light brown, the much longed for arrival of local tomatoes (may the good Lord deliver us from the commercially produced monstrosities), sweet corn, baseball on the radio, vacations, sighs of regret that Labor Day is close at hand”yes, there is something about August that lends itself to indulgent repose. And reading… . Continue Reading »

An Ecumenical Moment for One

During its August 17-23 national church convention in Minneapolis, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America seems poised to approve same-sex relations and the ordination of pastors in same-sex relationships. The history behind this move, which will be decided by a majority vote, is too tedious to repeat. Just call to mind the similar success of churnings within the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church and you’ll have an adequate understanding of it. Presbyterians and United Methodists have so far held off the radical assaults from the Christian left. But since ELCA Lutherans are now firmly part of the Christian left, few resources exist to turn back this latest attempt… . Continue Reading »

Tolerance and Charity

Tolerance is a nice word, but is it a Christian virtue? Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver doesn’t think so, and his claim has occasioned no small amount of protest. In a smug editorial, America magazine recently chastened Chaput for coarsening the tenor of intra-ecclesial discourse. While no call for courtesy and civility should go unheeded, an apology for toleration that ignores its niceties only furthers the intellectual and moral torpor plaguing the public square… . Continue Reading »