The Advent Search

“Derek? Who’s Derek?” begins a flyer I have in my files. “He isn’t a prophet or a god, just a member of the Unitarian-Universalist Community at Pitt. You see, we draw upon many sources in our search for truth. Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism. And most importantly You [sic]. After all, you determine your own faith.” … . Continue Reading »

Brokenness and Modern Poetry

Readers charged that Kathleen Graber's poetry was “slovenly” and “shapeless.” As the poetry editor of First Things, I thought I’d step in and open a wider discussion of poetry, particularly as it pertains to First Things Continue Reading »

“The American River Ganges” Rising

The cartoon below appeared, with an accompanying article, in Harper’s magazine. The article is entitled “The Priests and the Children.” The cartoon shows a group of children huddled behind a single adult protector along the banks of a river. The children are weeping. Some are down on their knees in supplication. Some are peeking out from behind their lone defender’s back. All of them look fearful. Continue Reading »

The Pontificate Of Continuity

I’ve never met Benedict XVI, but I feel as though I have. Or at least I think I have a pretty good sense of how his mind works: clear, to the point, and earthy. OK, maybe not D. H. Lawrence earthy, but for a German university professor very direct, concrete, and capable of a memorable turn of phrase. Continue Reading »

When Nothing Created Everything

Throughout history people have been awed and thrilled by retellings of their culture’s creation story. Aztecs would tell of the Lady of the Skirt of Snakes, Phoenicians about the Zophashamin, and Jews and Christians about the one true God”Jehovah. But there is one unfortunate group”the children of atheistic materialists”that has no creation myth to call its own. … . Continue Reading »

An Archdiocese Spanning the Globe

Asked to name the most populous American dioceses, alert Catholics would likely name Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. I rather doubt that most of us would rank Brooklyn (the country’s only completely urban diocese) as high on the league table as it in fact is, and I’m willing to wager that not 1 in 20 Catholics would put Rockville Centre and Orange (California) in the top 10. … . Continue Reading »

Ants on a Crucifix in Norman Rockwell’s America

Last October, the Smithsonian Institute opened the “Hide/Seek” exhibit, which, as the Washington Post’s Blake Gopnik writes, “surveys how same-sex love has been portrayed in art, from Walt Whitman’s hints to open declarations in the era of AIDS and Robert Mapplethorpe’s bullwhips.” Gopnik praised the show hugely, calling it “courageous, as well as being full of wonderful art.” … . Continue Reading »

Delivered From All Stain

“Yeah, right” is the way my the more irenic of my Evangelical friends react to the Immaculate Conception, the feast day of which (a holy day of obligation) we celebrate on Wednesday. A few will go so far as to say something like “Whatever floats your boat,” while others react with something like horror or disgust. Very few, in my experience, has a very good idea of the dogma to which they’re reacting… . . Continue Reading »

“I Row, God Steers”

Andreas Widmer doesn’t know what God has in store for the future, but he sees the marks of God’s providence all over his past. “God is constantly giving us a surprise party,” he muses, “and He’s saying, ‘Just wait and see what wonders I have in store for you next!’” … . Continue Reading »