A Christmas Book Sampler

A number of fascinating books that haven’t received all that much attention, but richly deserve it, have crossed my desk in recent months. Each would make a fine Christmas gift to someone on your list who likes to think outside the box… .Continue Reading »

A Global By-Pass of the Heart

In vitro fertilization is not therapy because “it does not treat whatever pathologies are at the root of couples’ infertility,” writes Tim Muldoon on the Patheos website, taking issue with the Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded to Robert Edwards for his work in developing the techniques of human in vitro fertilization… . Continue Reading »

The Parable of the Miners

Two months ago, with the riveted world for an audience, the thirty-three Chilean miners who spent seventy days in the darkness of the San Jose mine emerged one by one into the light of day. Worldwide, watchers responded with outpourings of enthusiasm, wonder and relief… . Continue Reading »

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 »