The Grim Reaper of Comedy

Maybe Woody Allen’s films once were funny. Now it’s as if he’s trying to spread his personal chronic sickness of anhedonia”that inability to enjoy what should naturally be pleasurable which has been a recurring theme in his work since Annie Hall”to his few remaining fans. If his latest film is any indication, it’s working… . Continue Reading »

Show Us the Money

It is a bad sign when the head of a Catholic college’s theology department ends an interview by calling Pope Benedict an Austrian. Father Mark Massa rewrote the pope’s biography in an interview with the Religion News Service, which talked to him about his book The American Catholic Revolution: How the ’60s Changed the Church Forever… . Continue Reading »

Patriots in Babylon

The New Testament does not seem to encourage patriotism. The Revelation to John juxtaposes the heavenly hosts arrayed against the malign powers of darkness, two worlds, two governments, if you will: the heavenly Jerusalem ruled by the slain Lamb, and the earthly Babylon, awash in luxury, decadence, and death. What Christian could be a patriot for Babylon? … Continue Reading »

Moderating Patriotism

Conservatism pairs God and country, observes the legendary Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr., while cosmopolitan liberalism chooses “universal empathy rather than patriotism and human rights or humanity rather than God.” The cosmopolitan liberal pairing is perhaps more consistent than its conservative counterpart… . Continue Reading »

Founding Believers

What were the religious beliefs of the founding fathers? That question is at the heart of many of the most contentious debates about the role of religion in the American public square. Countless arguments are centered on claims that the founders were either God-fearing Christians or Deistically-inclined secularists. But while historical documents are often mined for justifying quotes, few people bother to muster historical evidence to shore up their claims with the necessary academic rigor… . Continue Reading »

The Pius Wars, Continued

In the war over Pius XII and the Holy See’s policy toward Nazi Germany before and during World War II, there are fanatically anti-Pacelli/Pius XII writers like Daniel Jonah Goldhagen and Sergio Minerbi, whose imperviousness to evidence that challenges their presuppositions raises grave questions about their scholarship. And then there are the serious academic historians… . Continue Reading »

Defending Christine O’ Donnell

A week after her stunning upset in the Delaware primaries, I find myself in the odd position of defending Tea-Party-endorsed Christine O’Donnell, about whom I am mostly agnostic. O’Donnell is like Palin-Lite; half the experience, less bitter. In her favor, though, is that she appears to be utterly without guile. She projects the sort of wide-eyed-innocent openness that personifies American naiveté … Continue Reading »

The Straight Lines of Providence

The homily from the Mass for the twentieth anniversary of the reception into the Catholic Church of Richard John Neuhaus: The genealogy of Jesus Christ is something of a homiletic challenge. But Saint Matthew recorded it, and so the Church presents it to us, though not often. We find it, appropriately enough, on this feast of the nativity of Our Lady, and also as the gospel for the vigil Mass of the Nativity of the Lord… . Continue Reading »