Commentary

Seeing abortion

We stand at a pivotal point in the great moral debate over abortion in our country — not because new arguments have emerged, but rather because laws so breathtaking in their barbarism have been passed, and a film so visceral in its presentation of the reality of abortion has found a wide audience. As John Henry Newman reminded us, assent to a proposition is rarely a matter of acquiescing to rational demonstration alone; instead, it often has to do with the accumulation of argument, image, impression, experience, and witness.

Stand beneath the cross with Mary

This Lent I’ve been focusing on the seven sorrows of Mary, which span Jesus’ infancy through his death and burial. The scene that comes back to me over and over in prayer is that of Mary cradling her deceased Son on her lap — the image known as the pietà.

Frank Gehry and the quest for transcendence

Though I reside in Santa Barbara, I am in Los Angeles a good deal for meetings and other events. When I’m in the city, I like to walk the downtown neighborhood. My favorite building to look at while I’m on these strolls is the Walt Disney Concert Hall, home base of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the creation of Frank Gehry, probably the best-known architect in the world. Like many of Gehry’s other buildings, the Disney is marked by shimmering metallic surfaces, curving planes, and an overall playfulness of design. Some have suggested that the theater’s exterior looks like the pages of a score that have just fallen from the conductor’s podium. That it is a captivating work of art is testified to by the crowds that regularly gather round it to gaze and to take photographs. Soon after I arrived in the L.A. Archdiocese, I heard that Gehry was actually one of the finalists in the competition to design the new cathedral here. To say the very least, it would have been interesting to see what he would have done with that assignment. 

What you can learn from the elderly

Have you ever received an unexpected message from a friend, maybe a text message or a voicemail that made your day, or even led you to change your outlook on life? This happened to me last month, in the middle of SEEK 2019, the annual conference of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.

Adventure by Catholic terms: ‘You were made for greatness’

All afternoon I had been hunkered over my MacBook, perched above a frozen lake and watching the sun cast pink into the clouds. I was thinking about what lay dormant and all the possibility below, waiting to thaw.

My task at hand: editing a cover story about three Catholic families who had taken radical leaps of faith. One couple moved to Costa Rica with their baby to do mission work. One man felt called to head up a floundering radio station. Another family set aside their jobs and rented out their home to embark on a yearlong cross-country RV trip, prodded by a sensation many of us recognize.

Reflections of a first-time ‘marcher’

The 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae seemed like an auspicious year to attend the Mass for Life and the Washington State March for Life for the first time. I am grateful that I was able to finally attend.

The internet and Satan’s game

By now the entire country has seen a video of a supposedly racist confrontation, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, between a grinning young high school student and a Native American elder, chanting and beating a drum. The immediate and ferocious judgment of the internet community was that the boy was effectively taunting and belittling the elder, but subsequent videos from wider angles as well as the young man’s own testimony have cast considerable doubt on this original assessment. My purpose in this article is not to adjudicate the situation, which remains, at best, ambiguous, even in regard to the basic facts. It is to comment, rather, on the morally outrageous and deeply troubling nature of the response to this occurrence, one that I would characterize as, quite literally, Satanic.