Given the intellectual flimsiness of their work, it’s best to look for cultural causes to explain the “New Atheists” popularity. And surely one factor here is the now-canonical notion in Western high culture that biblical religion is incompatible with modern natural science: an idea rooted in the notion that the “scientific method” is the only way to get at the truth. (William Shakespeare, call your office.)
PHOTOGRAPHS CAN capture exceptional moments in an iconic way, making the original experience “present” emotionally as well as pictorially. The photo of U.S. Marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima’s Mt. Suribachi “means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years,” Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal said in 1945. The image of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s boyish salute as his father’s casket left Washington’s St. Matthew’s Cathedral in 1963 helped cement the “Camelot” myth into its seemingly impregnable place in American public life. The “Earthscape” pictures shot by Apollo 8 astronauts at Christmas, 1968, continue to play a not-insignificant role in today’s environmental movement.
THE EVENING OF Sept. 12, 2006, was, in a word, memorable. My wife and I were having dinner in Cracow with two of John Paul II’s oldest friends when my mobile phone rang and an agitated Italian journalist started hollering in my ear, “Have you zeen zees crazee speech zee Pope has given about zee Muslims? What do you zay about it?”
TEN YEARS AGO, after my meditation on Europe, “The Cube and the Cathedral,” had appeared in several languages, I was invited to speak to the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. There, I tried to make what seemed three rather obvious points:
PERHAPS IT WAS being “overcome with Paschal joy” (as the Prefaces for Easter put it). Maybe it was my guardian angel whispering in my ear. Perhaps I’m just getting older and thus less crotchety. But for a brief moment, at around 7:30 EDT on the morning of May 3, I felt a blush of sympathy for Hillary Clinton for the first time in 25 years.
IF YOU CAN find it in your attic, open your old, pre-Vatican II missal, and look at the Sundays between Easter and Pentecost, which are titled “Sundays after Easter.” Now look at a contemporary Missal, or your current issue of Magnificat, and note the difference: those Sundays are now styled “Sundays of Easter.” Three letters were lost in the transition from after to of, but that subtraction represents a great recovery of liturgical insight.
DID YOU FIND the Gorsuch hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee a depressing exercise in political theater? Are you tired of the members of the “world’s greatest deliberative body” playing “Gotcha!” games that would embarrass a well-trained high school debate team? Have you had it with a mainstream media that doesn’t hold senators accountable for gross ignorance and bias and a social media universe that’s constantly in hysterics?
On the sapphire jubilee of Jackie Robinson’s first game in the majors, America owes 42 an enormous round of applause and a prayer for the repose of a noble soul.
WHEN I FIRST MET Bishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., more than 20 years ago, I was struck by his boyish demeanor, his exquisite courtesy and his rock-solid faith. Then the bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, a diocese that serves several reservations, Bishop Chaput was obviously proud of his Potawatomi heritage without wearing his roots, so to speak, on his sleeve. Moreover, his striking modesty and personal gentleness exemplified the Franciscan vocation he had embraced. Here, I thought, is a real pastor, living out the meaning of his episcopal motto, “As Christ loved the Church.”
EVELYN WAUGH’S SLIM and critically unappreciated novel, “Helena,” was something of a literary experiment for a modern master of English literature. At bottom though, the novel – the only one of his books Waugh ever read aloud to his children – is an act of faith in the reality of revelation.