May 2016

Language Most Foul

Vulgarity, too, is in the eye of the beholder. Oscar Wilde acknowledged as much when he remarked: “Vulgar behavior is the behavior of other people.” Wilde’s admonition is worth keeping in mind—a mortification-in-waiting. As we have been told, God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. But while we keep an obliging eye out for our own vulgarities, it would be a shame to overlook everyone else’s. So stay with me a bit. •   •   •   •  When the temperature hits 90° I am ready to curse the heat myself. Continue Reading
Musical Life of English Catholics

If you are in or near Manhattan this coming Friday, May 27, you might take pleasure in this lovely program at St. Vincent Ferrer on Lexington Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets. Samuel Schmitt’s lecture, accompanied with live musical examples by early music specialists Charles Weaver, and Grant and Priscilla Herreid, promises to be wonderful. This is a rare opportunity to engage the riches of English Catholic musical and religious culture under the Tudors. The evening will bring to life the musical life of recusant Catholics—those who defied the Recusancy Laws by refusing to worship in the Anglican Church—in the time of Elizabeth. Continue Reading
Discerning the Will of God?

Are you never even a bit uncomfortable when someone claims to have discerned God’s will in this or that decision of their own? I certainly am. It is one thing to pray for discernment, but quite something else to announce being in receipt of it. When anyone tells me that, after much prayer, they have determined that God wants such-and-such from them—however worthy the suchness—something in me backs away. It is the telling that feels all wrong. It seems an impertinence. Continue Reading

Coverage of Pope Francis by the mainstream Catholic press is barely worth reading. It confuses the papacy—most especially, this particular pontificate—with the Church itself. Scrap the dominant Catholic punditry. Ignore anodyne broadcasts from the Vatican Press Office. Get your goods from somewhere off the ghetto newsstand. Go some place where insight into the character of this pontificate is not befogged by misplaced deference or courtier’s ambition. One place to go is Daniel Williams’ blog Next War Notes. Williams is the author of the recently published Forsaken: The Persecution of Christians in Today’s Middle East (2016). Continue Reading
Conscience in Politics

Papers presented at a 1992 conference sponsored by the Wethersfield Institute were published as a book: When Conscience and Politics Meet: A Catholic View. It is a scant 103 pages. Its brevity makes it all the friendlier to busy people concerned over the issue of conscience-in-politics but with little time to get beyond the daily barrage of  events. Georgio de Chirico. The Uncertainty of the Poet (1913). We look at the news networks, read the pundits, listen to the talk, and wonder how we arrived at where we find ourselves now. Continue Reading