Islamic violence

Lepanto, Prayer, & The Game of Martyrs

Yesterday, October 27, was the day Pope Francis specified as a day of prayer for peace. My local parish, unencumbered by desire for moral clarity, invited all parishioners to a noon Mass followed by a special rosary for peace—in the abstract. Refusal to take sides burlesques the famed events of 1571 when Christendom kept churches open and prayed the rosary during the Battle of Lepanto. Yes, Pope Pius V enjoined all Christians to pray. But not for peace. He called them to pray that the Holy League would defeat the formidable Ottoman fleet. Continue Reading
Scattered Notes on Notre-Dame

My heart splintered watching Notre-Dame go up in flames. The disorder of my own responses—a jumble of dismay, anger, and foreboding—permits no tidy structure. What follows is a series of thoughts in no strict sequence. Bear with me. •    •    •    • “Somebody did something” on 9/11. Taking a cue from Ilhan Omar, can we wonder if somebody did something to Notre-Dame? It is a rational conjecture. Watching the cathedral tower burn, it was impossible for the mind’s eye not to go directly to the burning towers of the World Trade Center. Continue Reading
Fragments On A Theme

The seventieth anniversary issue (November, 2015) of Commentary was dedicated to a symposium on “The Jewish Future.” Seventy Jewish writers and scholars responded to John Podhoretz’ request to answer the question: What will be the condition of the Jewish community fifty years from now? The tenor of responses range from the exhilarating to the unsettling. All are  compelling. One of the few women respondents is of interest here. Bethany Mandel described herself as “a writer on politics and culture and a stay-at-home mother.” Continue Reading