March 2016

Gutenberg Elegies: An Exhibition

I love books—the look, feel, smell, and weight of them. When I hold an old book,  I remember the story of an aged librarian who wandered his collections, stopping to stroke the books and muttering: “Don’t worry, my darlings. They’ll never turn you into microfiche.”   And I cherish old papers: letters, pages of diaries and ledgers, anything with the mark of a hand. Resonant with memory, these are the ephemeral stuffs of connection between generations. The beauty of typeface and patterned end-papers testifies to the elegiac aspects of typesetting and bookbinding in an electronic age. Continue Reading
Good Friday

O, my black soul, now thou art summoned By sickness, Death’s herald and champion ; Thou’rt like a pilgrim, which abroad hath done Treason, and durst not turn to whence he’s fled ; Or like a thief, which till death’s doom be read, Wisheth himself deliver’d from prison, But damn’d and haled to execution, Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned. Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack ; But who shall give thee that grace to begin ?
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The Holy Spirit is Not a Fixer

Every so often someone writes to tender an oblique suggestion that I am not a true Catholic. A lapsed one maybe, a Jack Catholic, but hardly a staunch card-carrier like themselves. How else could I not bang saucepans for this pontificate? How else harbor unsmiling thoughts about Papa Francis? The correspondence goes something like this: • Are you Catholic? [Yes.] • Are you a practicing Catholic? [Yes.] • Do you believe the Holy Ghost guides the Church? [Yes.] • Well then, don’t you believe the Holy Ghost chose Francis? Continue Reading
The Blogging Life

Writers do not just write anymore. Now they keep blogs, too. It is the going thing. No thought, but that it should become copy. If the thinking requires more than 140 characters, then Twitter is out. Go post it on your blog. Not a scrap of cognition should go unused. This weblog began several years ago as an outgrowth of my place on the culture desk of The New York Sun, a brave experiment in print just as print was buckling to the web. Continue Reading
Influence Peddling at the Chair of Peter

You do not have to read between the lines of this morning’s broadcast from Chiesa to see an analogy emerge between Pope Francis and Hillary Clinton, an enthusiastic trafficker in influence. Chiesa‘s headline runs: “Welcome Wealthy. Francis Receives Them With Open Arms.” These are not ordinary people of means. They are political players buying leverage and prestige from a pope who sees himself a player among principalities and powers. Hillary was her husband’s bagman back in Arkansas and has been selling access ever since. Continue Reading