The Public Square
Richard John Neuhaus
(c) 1995 First Things 50 (February 1995): 60-71.
Getting the Sides Straight
The Guardian, a British paper, has a man in Washington named
Martin Walker and he reviews two books on the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill
controversy. One by Senator John Danforth, Resurrection, takes Thomas'
side, and the other by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, Strange Justice,
takes Hill's side. Walker suggests that "Clarence Thomas and Anita
Hill are to our day what Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers were to the
opening years of the Cold War. As in the Dreyfus case in France, an entire
political allegiance can be deduced from which of the two sides one decides
At a deeper level, Resurrection reflects a religious orientation,
while Strange Justice is thoroughly secular. To read these two accounts,
says Walker, "is to realize the extent to which the United States
is now divided between the two mutually uncomprehending universes of the
secular and the godly. The books are written in what are virtually different
languages, the one rooted in Faith and the other in Reason." The real
lesson of this episode, he suggests, "is that the parallel universe
of faith is now able to command equal time and political deference in a
constitutional system that we once assumed was the historical product and
the enduring province of the rational mind."
There is something to be said for Mr. Walker's analysis, but the real
divide is not between faith and reason but between those who do and those
who don't pit faith against reason and reason against faith. Almost all
secularists do, and so do many, if not most, of the religiously committed.
That reality is perhaps the greatest obstacle to restoring moral deliberation
to our civil discourse. If the choice is between faith and reason, there
will be no end to cultural warfare, and no limit upon the ways that warfare
is prosecuted. The choice is not between faith and reason.
On the one side are ideologues who have made of secularism a functional
religion, who demand that traditional religion be relentlessly expunged
from the public square. On the same side are Christians who insist that
government and public policy be based on their understanding of the biblically
revealed law of God. Those two are on the same side because both pit faith
against reason. On the other side are those who respect the capacity of
God-given reason to engage the question of truth, including moral truth,
and who are devoted to a vibrant democracy informed by the convictions
of the American people, including their religious convictions. That is
the choice that, it seems, becomes more apparent almost day by day.
Turning the Enemy into an Enemy of the Enemy
Ever since the November election, the New York Times editorial
page has been frothing about the end of the world, or at least the end
of the political and cultural world favored by the editors. Some of the
hysteria is, although pathetic, not without its entertainment value. For
instance, a lead editorial titled "Starving the Poor" and aimed
at the Republican congressional majority's plans for welfare reform. Rather
than speak in their own voice, the editors quote extensively from a statement
made a month earlier by John Cardinal O'Connor in which he sharply and
rightly criticizes the stereotyping of the poor for political advantage.
Among other things, the Cardinal said, "It is increasingly rare for
many of us . . . to believe that people can be poor, but honest; poor,
but deserving of respect. Poverty is no longer blamed on anyone but the
poor themselves. Contempt for the poor has become a virtue." A touch
hyperbolic perhaps, but it is surely a salutary caution, and a necessary
reminder that a society is judged also by the way we respond to the needs
of the most marginal and disadvantaged.
There is, however, something very odd about the Times' discovery
of Cardinal O'Connor as a "compelling voice" for justice. The
old axiom that the enemy of my enemy is my friend would seem to be at work
here, even if the new-found friend was previously declared an enemy. During
the ten years that he has been in New York, the Times has seldom-we
were going to write "never," but maybe there was once-had a kind
word for the Cardinal. It has on many occasions editorially lashed out
at him and the Catholic Church for their putative bigotry and general obstructionism
that got in the way of how the Times thinks the city and the world
should be ordered. Indeed in the past decade a regularly repeated editorial
theme has been the opposition of the Catholic Church in general, and Cardinal
O'Connor in particular, to the course of putative progress.
But now, after November 8, 1994, the times they are a-changing. The
editors write, "Given the savagery of the climate, it is useful to
note what the Roman Catholic Church is saying in response. The church,
through its efforts to feed and house America's poor, is intimately familiar
with the problem of poverty. Of late, the church's most compelling voice
has been that of the Archbishop of New York, John Cardinal O'Connor. .
. ." My, my, and all this from the editors of the Times. They
must be getting desperate. They are.
Desperate enough to trim a pastoral exhortation by the Cardinal to their
own political purposes. Desperate enough to praise the Church for being
"squarely on the side of the vulnerable," while excising the
call for the protection of the vulnerable unborn-a call that the Times
has routinely and stridently condemned as patriarchal indifference
to the rights of women. Desperate enough to try to enlist a religious sanction
for its politics, despite its thundering anathemas against the mixing of
religion and politics by groups such as the Christian Coalition and its
notorious editorial claim of some years ago that the Cardinal was, by criticizing
policies approved by the Times, threatening "the fragile truce"
that permits religious leaders to address questions of public moment. "Of
late" the Cardinal has become a compelling voice. Of so very late.
And, we can be sure, not for long.
The frothing and floundering of the Times in reaction to new
ideas and new forces in our political culture is, as aforesaid, not without
its entertainment value. In time, the editors may come to understand that
the problem is not "the savagery of the climate" but the savagery
of their reaction to a growing awareness that old social policies, apparently
so compassionate, are cruel in their consequences for the very people they
are supposed to help. The editors say that "the country has a moral
obligation to feed and protect those who cannot feed and protect themselves."
In time, they may come to understand that "the country" doesn't
feed or protect anyone. People and institutions do these necessary things.
The editors may even come to understand that the most important institutions
for doing these things are not governmental but the mediating institutions,
such as family, church, neighborhood, and voluntary association. They may
even get to the point where they add the term "subsidiarity"
to their vocabulary. But all this will likely take the editors some time.
Meanwhile, we are sure that Cardinal O'Connor knows that his involuntary
recruitment as the enemy of the enemies of the Times is very temporary.
When next he violates the orthodoxies of the Times, as he inevitably
must, it is certain that the editors will revert to type and his "most
compelling voice" will once again be the intolerably meddlesome voice
of one who does not understand who is in charge of the city and the world.
(Urbi et orbi, as Mr. Sulzberger might put it.)
What Are Lawyers Good For? (This Is Not a Lawyer
So who's behind the violence surrounding abortion? The November 14,
1994 issue of U.S. News & World Report devotes nine quite fair
and informative pages to the question. Of course the violence examined
is not the killing of unborn children but the killing of two abortionists
and other actions such as the torching of abortuaries. The conclusion is
that, despite the efforts of Attorney General Janet Reno and the abortion
lobby to discover otherwise, there is no grand conspiracy. There are a
lot of opponents of abortion who feel they have reached the end of their
tether and have no choice but to act outside the law and against the law.
There is evidence that at least some pro-abortionists are beginning to
worry that there may be something to the claim of pro- life activists that
they are the nineteenth century abolitionists redevivus. With nothing but
an insecure majority of the Supreme Court on their side, the pro-choice
faction has reason to be nervous.
The U.S. News report is accompanied by a short article on another
factor of increasing importance, the bringing of malpractice and other
suits against abortionists and clinics. It cites Mark Crutcher of Texas
who has set up a consulting firm, Life Dynamics. He takes out ads declaring,
"If you've been physically or emotionally injured by an abortion,
talk to an aggressive attorney today." When he's talking to lawyers,
Crutcher says, "we want them to visualize millions of dollars, not
aborted babies." Multiplying law suits doesn't do much to elevate
the level of public moral discourse, but it has a certain vulgar charm,
and may be effective. From various conversations it is evident that a number
of pro-life leaders are intrigued by the possibilities. "Fighting
fire with fire" and similarly unedifying but not uninteresting maxims
crop up in such conversations.
It is noted that the infamous Roe decision of 1973 provides
a wide open invitation to medical litigation. Roe said that abortion is
"inherently, and primarily, a medical decision," and it follows
that the abortionist must have a sound basis for "his medical judgment
[that] the patient's pregnancy should be terminated" (emphasis added).
Simply to provide abortion on request would therefore appear to be a form
of negligence. Yet the clinics where the overwhelming majority of abortions
are performed are almost totally unregulated, and the way they operate
makes a considered medical judgment, such as that envisioned in Roe,
virtually impossible. Physical and emotional injury are broad categories,
and people are becoming more aware of the accumulating evidence that abortion
contributes to, among many other things, a greatly increased chance of
breast cancer. Then there is the question of whether the woman's choice
was truly free and informed, or whether it was coerced by boyfriend, family,
or circumstance that could be changed without great difficulty. (Even in
surveys conducted by pro-choice organizations, the overwhelming majority
of women who have abortions say that they "had no choice.") Such
considerations should have a bearing on a doctor's decision that a woman
should have an abortion.
Returning to the U.S. News article, it concludes: "These
kinds of malpractice suits have put abortion-rights advocates in an uncomfortable
spot. They can hardly object to a legal strategy that secures damages for
injured women and makes bad doctors pay. Antiabortion groups see the obvious
benefits in that strategy. Even some of their opponents concede it is one
area where antiabortion forces may be gaining the upper hand." The
fight for the protection of unborn children and vulnerable women is continuing,
and must continue, on many fronts. The moral delegitimation of abortion
within the medical community has largely been achieved. Very few doctors
want to be known as abortionists, and the great majority of medical schools
do not teach how to kill babies. A much magnified threat of malpractice
suits could make it much more expensive for the clinics to stay in business.
In addition, a greatly changed political climate after the November elections
makes more than thinkable once again political and legal steps that many
had despaired of.
The reader may recall President Clinton's formula that abortion should
be "safe, legal, and rare." (He who then pushed policies aimed
at expanding the incidence of abortion, even to the point of enshrining
it as an internationally recognized human right.) Abortion has always been
lethally unsafe for the baby, of course, but as it becomes more evident
that it is unsafe for the mother, and as it is more widely perceived that
it was illegitimately declared legal, and as litigation makes it onerously
difficult to practice, it may also become much more rare. And that's one
possible answer to the oft-asked question, What are lawyers good for?
Yearning for the Good Old Days
How poignant is the longing of those who came alive in the 60s, who
keep searching for the return of "The Movement." One recalls
Wordsworth on the enthusiasts of the French Revolution, "Bliss was
it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!" Robert
F. Drinan, Jesuit priest and former Congressman, was not in the 60s so
young in years, but it was his moment. He writes about it in a recent column.
"I recently spoke to 287 people gathered in Boston to commemorate
the 25th anniversary of the moratorium established in 1969 to stop the
war in Vietnam." The millions then have shrunk to 287, a remnant so
small as to make a precise count possible. Not 285 or 290 but 287. Drinan
reflects: "The leaders and followers of the nation's leading peace
groups who celebrated the silver anniversary of the moratorium are the
stalwarts of organizations such as the Clergy and Laity Concerned, the
Nuclear Freeze Movement, Ban the Bomb, Pax Christi, the World Federalists,
SANE/Freeze, and the United Nations Association. The words of leaders like
Benjamin Spock, the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, and Martin Luther King,
Jr. were prominent in the rhetoric of the evening."
Drinan notes that "These organizations are groping for a mandate
and scrambling for funds. Their messages and their missions seem to echo
another generation, a time that is gone. . . . How can they find a new
(or old) movement that will articulate an appealing solution for the truly
horrendous threats to peace that are emerging before our very eyes?"
Those longing for The Movement Redux are frustrated by a political situation
that does not cooperate with their hopes. Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, even
Bush could boil the blood, but what can you do when your man (more or less)
is in the White House? Drinan writes, "The Clinton Administration
has not proposed any new foreign policy that would pose a real challenge
to the American people. Unlike the time that produced the antiwar movement
there are no 'good guys' and 'bad guys.' There is no one to demonize. There
are few causes related to peace that make a march on Washington a mandate
A great resource is being wasted, Fr. Drinan believes. "Religious
groups possess a comprehensive and compelling series of moral principles
from which a new foreign policy could be fashioned. Unfortunately there
does not seem to be at this moment any movement within the mainline Catholic,
Protestant, and Jewish groups in America to fashion a new set of guidelines
for America's conduct in the world in the next several years." Many
thoughtful Americans might thank God that we are delivered, at least for
the moment, from the pressure of the "comprehensive and compelling"
principles by which mainline religion tried to direct the nation's policies,
foreign and domestic. In any event, Fr. Drinan is surely right in his suspicion
that his nostalgia and that of the 287 veterans gathered in Boston seems
"to echo another generation, a time that is gone."
A Time Bomb,Ticking, Ticking
Soon the second anniversary of the Waco killings will be upon us. There
is reason to believe that this is a very big time bomb waiting to explode
under the Clinton Administration. Attorney General Janet Reno, not yet
sworn in, said at the time that the incident would be thoroughly investigated
but "there will be no recriminations." She was hailed as a tough
and up-front lady for saying that. But what a truly odd thing to say. About
eighty people-men, women, children-were shot or burned to death after seven
weeks of much-publicized ineptitude by government agencies, and we were
told that there will be no recriminations. The story is far from over.
The official reports on the investigations by the Justice Department and
its agencies have been generally dismissed by scholars who have studied
them as self-serving whitewashes. A number of independent investigations
are reaching completion, books are in the works, and lawsuits brought by
relatives of those killed will be coming to trial. One expects there will
be recriminations aplenty.
From the Ashes: Making Sense of Waco (Rowman & Littlefield,
$21.95), edited by James R. Lewis, brings together forty-six essays, comments,
and documents related to events in Waco. Authors range from retired Colonel
Charlie Beckwith, founder of the Army's elite Delta Force, to experts on
nontraditional religions such as J. Gordon Melton, to some of the country's
most distinguished defenders of religious freedom such as Dean Kelley,
long-time religious liberty director of the National Council of Churches.
All the contributors are highly critical of the government, especially
of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) and the FBI. Many
note the ways in which "cult experts" and "religious deprogrammers"
reinforced what appears to have been the desire of government agents to
force a violent confrontation. The cumulative effect of the book is to
support the conclusion that it was not David Koresh and his followers but
the U.S. Government that bears moral and legal responsibility for the holocaust
If this is true, Waco is the single most violent government assault
on religious freedom in American history. One draws back from that conclusion,
but then the evidence keeps forcing the mind back toward it. The questions
about Waco seemed to be laid to rest, but they will now be returning in
a way that the media, Congress, and the White House may find difficult
to ignore. As with any event with apocalyptic connotations, the conspiracy
theorists and associated vultures gather round. One cannot help but be
impressed, however, by the reputations and seriousness of those who are
now bringing forth evidence and arguments that make a reconsideration of
Waco imperative. In thinking about this, one is haunted by a sickening
possibility. What if most Americans really don't care whether or not the
government killed eighty-plus men, women, and children for no other reason
than that they adhered to what most people view as kooky religious beliefs?
Meeting "Meaning Needs"
Readers with a grip on long-term memory will remember the name Michael
Lerner. He is the editor of a liberal (okay, leftist) Jewish magazine called
Tikkun. ("Tikkun" means healing, as in healing the world,
for which a great deal is to be said.) Actually, it was not so very long
ago at all that Mr. Lerner was getting, and grabbing, a lot of attention
as Mrs. Hillary Clinton's spiritual director, so to speak. Those were the
days before-well, before so many things-when Mrs. Clinton was on magazine
covers as the champion of the nation's moral renewal. Within a few months
of his fifteen minutes, Mr. Lerner is out with a book called Jewish Renewal:
A Path to Healing and Transformation (Grosset-Putnam). It is no
secret that most American Jews are profoundly secular, and it therefore
is no surprise that many of them feel very empty and are yearning for that
great American cure- all, "spirituality." Mr. Lerner has made
the happy discovery that you really don't need to choose between the secular
and the spiritual; you can have it all.
He writes like this: "It does not follow that Jewish secularism
must be abandoned. But secularism . . . needs to be reconstituted in ways
that acknowledge the ethical, spiritual, and psychological concerns that
have often been ignored or denied in the various materialist forms of secular
thought. . . . Secularists need to address the ways that society systematically
frustrates these meaning needs, and then to develop a 'politics of meaning'
that aims to achieve societal transformations aiming to eliminate those
aspects of our economic and political life that frustrate our meaning needs."
Elliott Abrams of the Hudson Institute, reviewing the book in the American
Spectator, is not entirely taken with Mr. Lerner's proposal: "Putting
aside, again, babble like 'meaning needs' and looking at the substance,
Lerner is simply contradicting himself. While he seems, on page after page,
to recognize man's search for the spiritual, his answer to that longing
is more politics-to be precise, a 'politics of meaning' in the phrase he
and Hillary made famous. Man's search for meaning cannot, he understands,
be satisfied in Freudian psychology, Marxism, or science, but it is to
be found in an equally secular political quest nonetheless. Judaism is,
to him, a religion whose whole point is politics, and 'healing' the world
turns out to be awfully close to adopting the usual environmental, economic,
and sociological nostrums of the left. And Jewish renewal turns out to
be little more than, well, as [Richard] Brookhiser put it, the Democratic
Party with holidays. In its way, Jewish Renewal is, as publishers
like to hear, an important book. Its suggestions to the Jewish community
are precisely wrong; its remedies for the decline in that community are
exactly incorrect. Lerner's own search for meaning has led him from politics,
through religion, and then back again. His proposals, if adopted, would
decimate the Jewish community like a plague. The effort to turn Jews into
some sort of revolutionary vanguard for ecology and welfare benefits is
ridiculous, and it is hard to think of anyone taking it very seriously-even
Notice how many of the disputes in contemporary Christianity are over
language. Both the revisionists and their opponents are right in recognizing
that words not only reflect reality but also constitute what is taken for
reality. Consider a Catholic example. There is a group of priests and scholars
who have launched an organization called Credo, and they have had considerable
influence with the bishops and others in applying the brakes to the establishment
in charge of liturgical revisions. Needless to say, those who have been
accustomed to having their way do not take kindly to this interference.
Credo has, for instance, issued some sharp critiques of Latin translations
proposed by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).
The establishment shot back that these upstarts obviously possessed little
more than "high school Latin."
Father James Maroney is chairman of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical
Commissions, works closely with ICEL, and is advisor to the Bishops' Committee
on the Liturgy. Recently he issued a bulletin announcing the appointment
of a new bishop to the Diocese of Worcester, Mass. The traditional phrase
is, "Nuntio gaudium magnum: Habemus episcopum." (I announce with
great joy: We have a bishop.) Father Maroney's bulletin had it, "Annuncio
vobis gaudiam magnam: Habemus episcopam!" Now truth to tell, my Latin
isn't that great but something is obviously amiss here. "Annuncio"
is not a Latin word. More interestingly, "episcopam" is feminine,
as is "gaudiam magnam." The new bishop, Daniel Patrick Reilly,
is definitely masculine. And in Latin "gaudium magnum" is in
no way gender-specific so there is no reason to change it. (Revisionists
who are big on being "inclusive" regularly impose the peculiarities
of English on other languages.) Some of the priests in Credo may only have
high school Latin, but one expects that most of them at least passed the
course. Or perhaps Father Maroney is an accomplished Latinist and is trying
to make a point. Or perhaps the changes were entirely inadvertent. As Cicero
might have said, "Fors fortis" (fat chance).
While We're At It
- Being unecumenical can be fun. Who doesn't miss something in the bare-knuckled
religious polemics of yesteryear? This writer was brought up in the Lutheran
Church-Missouri Synod when it publicly taught that it was "the true
visible church on earth." He never believed it, but it was exciting
to watch one's elders contend for that proposition, especially against
Catholics-it being allowed that individual Catholics could be saved by
virtue of "felicitous inconsistency" between what they really
believed and what their church taught. This is brought to mind by an item
in This Rock, a publication of Catholic Answers in San Diego, which
describes itself as a Catholic apologetics organization. It seems Catholic
Answers has struck up a polemical friendship with Michael Horton, president
of CURE (Christians United for Reformation). Mr. Horton is hard-core Calvinist
and what he and Catholic Answers have in common, aside from the pleasure
of polemics, is a strong dislike for the declaration "Evangelicals
and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium"
(see FT, May 1994). If that declaration is right, it might take a lot of
the fun out of bashing one another. According to This Rock, there
are "two major problems" with the declaration. It "gives
the impression that Catholics and Evangelicals are members of the same
visible Church of Christ." Second, "The statement implies that
Catholics should not evangelize Evangelicals (or vice versa, of course)."
Wrong on both scores. That Catholic Answers may have an impression and
that they may infer something from the statement says something about Catholic
Answers but nothing about the statement. "Evangelicals and Catholics
Together" is entirely consonant with the teaching of Vatican Council
II that all who are baptized are in real but imperfect communion with the
Catholic Church, and it emphatically underscores the responsibility of
Christians to evangelize everybody, which includes Evangelicals bearing
witness to Catholics (and vice versa, of course). One is just a mite surprised
that Catholic Answers seems to think that such firm and theologically astute
defenders of Catholic orthodoxy as Archbishop Francis Stafford, Bishop
Francis George, Fr. Avery Dulles, Professor Peter Kreeft, and John Cardinal
O'Connor would sign a declaration that deviates from the Church's teaching.
An organization specializing in apologetics might consider apologizing.
- For fourteen years Richard C. Halverson served as chaplain to the U.S.
Senate, and he has now resigned for reasons of health. My impression is
that all who know him respect him highly. It's no little thing to maintain
an effective ministry across often bitter partisan lines. Since the announcement,
clergy from around the country have been sending in their resumes in the
hopes of snaring a position of high prestige and, especially for clergy,
high pay ($115,700). It would be more seemly were they to await the call
of God, or at least of Senator Bob Dole. No doubt they simply want to make
their availability known to higher powers. Mary Hunt, who directs an organization
called Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual, says that after
205 years of white male chaplains it's about time for a woman. On the other
hand, she thinks the job may have become obsolete. "We no longer have
a country that's normatively white male or Protestant," she says.
Maybe, she suggests, several chaplains are required to represent "the
variety of religious traditions" in the Congress. We have a quota
system for most everything else, so why not for the spiritual care of senators?
Actually, while we don't have the religious breakdown for the new Senate,
the last one had eighty-three senators who identified themselves as Christians,
ten as Jews, and seven who didn't say. The largest single group, of course,
was twenty-three Catholics, most of whom, unfortunately, were not conspicuously
Catholic on questions that should be of particular concern to Catholics.
God does not need and Senator Dole would not likely take our advice on
what should be done about the chaplaincy, which is just as well since we
don't have any particular wisdom on the subject. Except for this: The tradition
of a Senate chaplain should be maintained. To have no chaplain would be
perceived as a further secularization of the public square; to have several
would be pandering to a false "pluralism" that undermines commonalities
in our public life. And except for this: The new chaplain should study
very carefully the way that Richard Halverson did it so very well.
- Quite a debate has been kicked off by the National History Standards
Project, which employed focus groups and other "consensus building
procedures" to come up with a new way for schools to tell the American
story. Despite all the references to consultative proceduralism, the new
curriculum is pretty much what one would expect from the biases of experts
who are, yes, politically correct, indeed painfully so. The historians
who came up with these guidelines say that they have eschewed "the
great man theory of history" (especially great dead white men), and
want to nurture a multicultural appreciation of human diversity. Among
those who are not buying is John Patrick Diggins, professor of history
at the City University of New York. He observes that "The 60's generation
may have lost most of its political battles but, now safely ensconced in
academia, it has won the war for cultural hegemony." Those who produced
these standards defend their work by saying that historical revisionism
reflects the critical mind at work. Diggins worries that this kind of revisionism
will actually end up stifling the critical mind. "[T]he historians
who wrote the standards may with the best of intentions be imposing their
own interpretations and values to the point that students will not be able
to do what they are purportedly called upon to do. Students are asked to
exercise 'independent judgment,' yet it has already been decided that they
should not spend an excessive amount of time studying 'great civilizations.'
They are told to 'detect bias,' yet any detection-for example, questioning
a text for emphasizing the achievements of one culture over another-runs
the risk of being dubbed racist. They are to 'weigh evidence and to evaluate
arguments,' yet they dare not pronounce the Federalist Papers superior
in political wisdom lest they commit the elitist mistakes of the past.
They are advised to 'sniff out spurious appeals to history,' yet they should
beware of studying the 'great men,' the very thinkers who were in the vanguard
of inquiry. Some standards." One recalls again Dryden's observation
about false freedoms that impose real bonds.
- Nobody reads it anyway, a friend tells me, so what difference does
it make? Maybe so, and maybe it's a small thing, but it should not go entirely
unremarked. I can't be the only one who reads the annual presidential proclamations
for Thanksgiving Day. This time President Clinton urged us "to lift
ourselves closer to God's grace," noting that "ours is an unfinished
journey." As to where we are going as a nation, he had this to say,
"Our destination must be to create the means for every one of us to
prosper, to enjoy sound education, meaningful work experience, protective
health care, and personal security." The language gives a lift to
the soul. The Lincolnesque ring of "meaningful work experience"
puts one in mind of the first president to issue a proclamation declaring
Thanksgiving a national holy day. President Clinton's proclamation concludes
by urging "the citizens of this great nation to continue this beloved
tradition." The 1994 proclamation breaks tradition, however, by not
being dated. Past proclamations ended by noting that the document was given
in a certain year of the founding of these United States of America and
in a certain "year of Our Lord." That the 1994 proclamation is
not dated at all may reflect simply an absence of historical consciousness.
But whoever wrote it must have gone back to consult earlier proclamations,
and the omission of the traditional conclusion must, one is inclined to
think, have been deliberate. The "year of Our Lord" likely offended
somebody's sense of what is appropriate in this "pluralistic"
society. What about the Muslims, the Californicating New Agers, the Buddhists,
the Confucianists, and the ACLUists? All might be "offended,"
as it is offensively said. To a certain mindset, pluralism is the enemy
of particularity, requiring a denial of, or indifference toward, the differences
that make most difference. The result is a dispiriting mix of the banal
and mendacious. Authentic pluralism, of course, is the engagement of, even
the celebration of, difference within the bonds of civility. But, as my
friend says, we should not make too much of a Thanksgiving Day proclamation
that almost nobody reads anyway. On the other hand, it's my job to bring
such things to public attention. I don't know if the task is a "meaningful
work experience," but I can thankfully say that it's not without its
- In Seattle, following the November elections, the International Network
of Lesbian and Gay Officials gathered. There were "about sixty of
them," according to a long story in the New York Times which
noted that these annual meetings of openly gay public officials started
in 1985. A main subject of conversation this year was "what seems
to be a national phenomenon: the preoccupation of the press with their
homosexuality." Please consider. They convene as the International
Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials, they invite the press, they highlight
the growing number of openly gay and lesbian public officials, they reiterate
the demand that the press pay more attention to their issues-and they complain
about "the preoccupation of the press with their homosexuality."
It takes a lot of doing for this scribe to work up even a smidgen of sympathy
for the view that the press is getting a bum rap, but every once in a while
. . .
- We Americans supply great entertainment for our British cousins. They
sometimes take a condescending attitude toward us, which is almost always
unwarranted, but we should understand that it is not easy living in a country
where the end of history is not an interesting theory but the very air
you breathe. At other times they discern things about us with remarkable
clarity. This, for instance, from the Spectator's editorial ruminations
on our recent election: "But the role played by the mainstream media
was a curious one, without precedent in America, and without a real British
analogy. Only last week, Time magazine put a photograph of Newt
Gingrich, the Republican who will now be Speaker of the House of Representatives,
on its cover: Mr. Gingrich's features were twisted into a snarl, beneath
the headline, 'The Politics of Hate'; who hates whom was, not, however,
very clear. Others-television, and broadsheet newspapers-continued to report
the elections from a biased and thoroughly partisan perspective, yet all
the while maintaining a pretense of objectivity and an attitude of pure
scorn for anyone who pointed this out: this hypocrisy is the trademark
of the politically correct American press. Meanwhile, scrappy local radio
talk-shows were promoting candidates like Mr. Gingrich and Mr. North. The
difference between the two types of media made the ideological gap between
Republicans and Democrats seem even larger: never before have American
elites-in media, law, and government-seemed so out of touch with the American
people." We should not begrudge the editors' finding this small consolation
in the comparison of our media and theirs: "Despite that growing substitution
of gossip for the reporting of genuine issues, and the apparently endless
demand for sex and scandal, British mainstream press and television are,
in this sense, far healthier than their American counterparts: at least
it is still possible to find more than one set of biases and prejudices
in the broadsheet press-and at least no one tries to pretend that they
do not exist at all."
- Ms. Kate Michelman, one of the country's foremost proponents of abortion,
described the November election results as "devastating and disastrous."
And with good reason. Pro-life leaders are counting at least forty-five
gains in the House and six in the Senate. The actual gains may be more
than that, since the election decisively demonstrated that the pro-life
position is no electoral handicap and could well be an advantage. That
will likely not be lost on incumbent politicians who have been waffling
up to now. Of the thirty-six House Democratic incumbents who lost, thirty-four
were pro-abortion, and twenty-nine of them were defeated by pro-lifers.
Also noteworthy, there is now a bloc of seven strongly and articulately
pro-life women in the House. "It's exciting stuff to have these women
to argue the pro-life position when Pat Schroeder starts pontificating,"
says Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council. Opposing abortion, says
GOP consultant Jeffrey Bell, "wasn't the big albatross the other side
said it was. It never is. That's the big myth. Abortion is the issue that
just won't quit." According to a Wirthlin poll, 27 percent of those
who voted said that abortion influenced their vote. Of that 27 percent,
9 percent were pro- choice and 18 percent pro-life. That's a two-to-one
margin. Also with respect to abortion, we are suddenly in a quite different
political culture. Some conservative Republicans (the other kind of Republican
is now an endangered species) say they want to put off major action on
abortion for a while, using the next Congress to "educate the public"
on the question through hearings and other initiatives. There may be strategic
sense in that. At the same time, many politically activated pro-lifers
are impatient and may quickly smell betrayal if there is not visible movement
by an early date. In addition, it now seems quite clear that if the Republican
party nominates a presidential candidate who is not credibly pro-life,
it is inviting massive defections, third party right-to-life candidates
in nearly every state, and almost certain defeat. It is with a sense of
wonder that one remembers how, on January 23, 1973, all the print and broadcast
media informed the world that the Supreme Court had "settled"
the abortion question.
- When in October President Clinton escaped campaign pressures here to
participate in Jordanian-Israeli peace ceremonies, he was accompanied by
Father Leo J. O'Donovan, president of Georgetown University in Washington,
D.C. Writing in America, Fr. O'Donovan gives a glowing account of
what must have been for him an inspiring trip. President Clinton and Secretary
of State Warren Christopher spoke "movingly" on a number of very
important themes-"supporting the process toward a comprehensive peace,
expressing solidarity with Jews and Arabs in the journey, denouncing terrorism,
promoting economic development." Not only that, but these themes "were
echoed in remarks Hillary Rodham Clinton made at several appearances."
In Amman, Jordan, President Clinton was "eloquent" in affirming
"American solidarity with the peace signatories." Fr. O'Donovan
concludes, "It would not have happened without American participation.
Nor without our President." One would not be surprised if Fr. O'Donovan
gets invited to go on other presidential trips.
- Still the most celebrated dissident theologian of the post-Vatican
II era, Father Hans Kung was recently invited to lecture at Lambeth Palace,
the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Never a man to pander
to his audience, Fr. Kung came right out and told the Anglicans that the
main responsibility for ecumenical difficulties between Canterbury and
Rome "certainly lies with Rome." He added, "I say that with
the sorrow of a Catholic theologian who all his theological life has been
committed to the ecumenical cause." Over the last thirty years, Fr.
Kung has become well-known for the sorrowful reluctance with which he says
anything critical of Rome. In his lecture, according to the Tablet,
he noted that the "Anglican tradition" poses hard questions to
the "Roman system." "Why shouldn't it be possible for Roman
Catholic dioceses too to make an independent election of their own bishops?"
"Why shouldn't . . . the 'women's question' (above all, ordination)
be resolved in one country earlier than another?" "Why shouldn't
a church be able to have eucharistic communion [with another church] in
its country if it regards the differences as settled?" And so forth.
It all comes down to one hard question that Fr. Kung says Anglicanism puts
to Rome: Why doesn't Rome become like the Church of England? Many Anglicans
will agree with Catholics that that question has an embarrassingly easy
answer. Nonetheless, one would not be surprised if Fr. Kung gets invited
to speak at other functions sponsored by the C of E.
- The CBS program 60 Minutes filmed the very leftist "Call
to Action" gathering in Chicago for a segment that will look at "the
state of the Catholic Church in the U.S. today." Benedictine Sister
Joan Chittister presided at the main Mass, along with a deacon and his
wife, a resigned priest, and a member of Dignity, the Catholic gay and
lesbian group. "We don't need permission to be the church," said
Chittister. Apparently it was an enthusiastic crowd. At the sharing of
the peace, reporter Mike Wallace was standing near the altar and, it says
here, "seemed momentarily stunned as he was greeted with a barrage
of hugs and handshakes." One can sympathize even with a man who is
a pro at momentarily stunning others. Sister Joan said that in the 60s
these meetings posed the question, What will you do now? "The value
of such things in the 90s is, What will you think now?" Maybe they
should change the name from "Call to Action" to "Call to
Thinking," but that would likely spoil the fun. Feminist theologian
Rosemary Radford Ruether was a featured speaker, as she has been every
year as long as the old-timers can remember. She spoke about the frustration
sometimes experienced in trying to "stay committed to reform of the
church." But she can still get herself worked up. For instance, a
Church of England clergyman told her he determined to become Catholic after
his church decided to ordain women. Ruether: "And I thought, 'Oh no,
no, not here, not here do you try to reproduce a haven from women and from
cultural and class diversity as you seek a cozy home for English males
who want to hear the liturgy intoned in an Oxbridge accent. Be advised
that if you join the Catholic Church you will encounter yet stronger feminists.
But also you will be discomfited to sit in the pew with working-class Irish.'
I always think of those guys at Cambridge and Oxford with their dainty
ways having to sit in an ordinary working-class parish." Dear, dear,
does one detect a note of homophobia, not to mention Anglophobia? According
to this report, "The three days of workshops included a strong track
on building small faith communities as well as sessions on combating racism,
organizing against violence, African-American spirituality, and lesbian/gay
spirituality and theology." A total of 3,100 attended the Chicago
"Call to Action." Nine percent were priests. It doesn't say how
many of them were retired. Perhaps the more telling figure is that 10 percent
of the participants were under thirty years of age and 50 percent were
over fifty. If the 60 Minutes program suggests that "Call to
Action" reflects the state of the Catholic Church in the U.S. today,
we will know that Mike Wallace was more than momentarily stunned.
- "I can't get enough of Mary Ann Glendon," writes a reader
from Pennsylvania, and she's certainly not alone. Glendon fans will be
interested in a series of four 30-minute tapes the Harvard law professor
has done on the future of the pro-life movement, Catholic feminism, the
Church and higher education, and what it means to be both Catholic and
American. For information, write Alba House, P.O. Box 595, Canfield, OH
- There is a potentially useful discussion building over a lawsuit filed
by Lynne C. Boughton against DePaul University in Chicago. She is charging
that she was denied an interview for a tenure-track position in the religious
studies department and finally discharged because her views were "too
Catholic." The question is one of illegal religious discrimination.
According to one paper, "Boughton said that although she refrained
from interjecting her traditional Catholic beliefs into her teaching, the
university 'persecuted her solely because of her religious beliefs.'"
Why a religion teacher in a putatively Catholic university should feel
obliged to refrain from injecting her beliefs in her teaching may strike
some as curious. (DePaul is run by the Vincentian order.) The newspaper
of St. Louis University, a Jesuit institution, reflects on whether that
school has a similar problem. One faculty defender of St. Louis U says,
"I believe that the University is committed to Jesuit Catholic values,
while encouraging religious diversity," and so forth. Another, however,
thinks the school is misleading people by presenting itself as a "Catholic
Jesuit community." Jesuit Catholic? Catholic Jesuit? Does the adjective
control the noun, or vice versa? And remember when people simply assumed
that Jesuits were Catholic?
- We almost got away with it. But now Texe Marrs, who runs Living Truth
Ministries in Austin, Texas, has told his thousands of readers the real
story behind "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission
in the Third Millennium." It seems that Charles Colson is a "closet
Catholic" who was recruited by the Vatican to arrange for Protestantism's
surrender to Rome. Neuhaus is a "Marxist heretic" who answers
to "both the notorious Catholic Order of the Jesuits and the
infamous Christian-bashing, Jewish Anti-Defamation League."
"When Rev. Neuhaus abandoned the Lutheran Church to become a Catholic
priest, the Vatican and its Jesuits knew they had a potential winner. With
Rome's guidance (and financial means!), they reasoned, Richard Neuhaus
could be used to manipulate millions of gullible Christians into joining
in a grand crusade to destroy Protestantism." In light of Marrs' revelations,
we can see how sneaky Neuhaus has been in covering his tracks by pretending
on occasion to be critical of the Jesuits and the Anti-Defamation League.
"Colson and Neuhaus openly admit that they secretly worked for two
years behind the scenes on this project. Their plan was to get the world's
top evangelical and Catholic leaders to sign up and endorse the manifesto
before expected opposition developed." (In retrospect, it was probably
a mistake for Chuck and me to admit it publicly.) Those who want to know
more can get All Fall Down, a special report by Mr. Marrs that reveals
"the stunning facts about the greatest sell-out in the history of
Christianity." It seems that Protestants have been recruited to work
with Jews and Jesuits to bring "the whole religious establishment,
under their supreme leader, the Pope, straight into the Great Apostasy."
In addition to the real dirt on Colson and Neuhaus, the report "unmasks
the Vatican connections" of some of the biggest names in Protestantism,
including Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Robert Schuller, Richard
Land, and Larry Lewis. Oh yes, Marrs reveals that Neuhaus also publishes
"a propagandistic magazine, Things Considered." Don't
say you were not warned.
- No, allegations to the contrary, I do not even try to read everything.
But I sometimes wonder why I continue to look, at least from time to time,
at some publications. For instance, the foundering flagscow of the Catholic
left, the National Catholic Reporter. For the sake of amusement,
more often than not, just to see what the inmates are saying about their
occasional encounters with the outside world. Here is a recent headline:
"New Cardinals: John Paul II creates 30 new ones-all men-from 24 countries."
So you can see the benefit of reading NCR. What other paper would be so
alert as to point out that there were no women cardinals appointed this
time around? In the same issue there is a long story by Peter Hebblethwaite,
the prolific and ever excited purveyor of inside dope on Vatican conspiracies,
under the heading, "Pope Stacks School of Cardinals." It seems
the Pope, being an unspeakably rigid fellow, did not make cardinals of
the declared enemies of this pontificate. Nor did it escape the attention
of Mr. Hebblethwaite that the Pope appointed "anti-communist"
cardinals in Vietnam and Cuba. But then, what would you expect from a reactionary
like John Paul II? To be fair to NCR, it is not all that much more amusing
on these questions than the New York Times, especially since Allan
Cowell was made its Rome correspondent. Mr. Cowell, who has scaled new
heights of the obtusely banal, reported that, with the appointment of new
cardinals, the Pope was "solidifying his base" in the Church.
Mr. Cowell, it seems, is getting himself ready to cover Karol Wojtyla's
reelection campaign in 1996. Perhaps it is too much to expect from the
Times, but from Catholic publications, no matter how tenuously Catholic,
one would hope for some capacity to view the Church in terms other than
those of secular power politics. But while I'm allowing fairness to get
the better of me, I should report some surprises in the way people have
been responding to the Pope's best- selling book, Crossing the Threshold
of Hope. The editor of the Tablet (London) asked a bunch of
his regulars-most of whom are skeptical-to-hostile toward anything issuing
from the Holy See-to comment on the book and the reviews were, with exceptions,
glowing. Similarly, NCR printed a comment by Father F. X. Murphy (the famed
"Xavier Rynne" who reported on Vatican II for the New Yorker)
in which he compared Threshold favorably with St. Augustine's Confessions.
To be sure, the same issue carried an extended trashing of the book by
the above-mentioned Hebblethwaite, and the editors printed Murphy's much
shorter comment on the last page and under the heading, "Another View."
But enough to make the point. You can see why there is a modestly amusing
payoff to looking at publications such as NCR, from time to time.
- Days after writing the above, word comes that Peter Hebblethwaite has
died in Oxford at age sixty-four. A generous obituary in the New York
Times (which has him as the Vatican correspondent for the National
Catholic Register rather than the National Catholic Reporter)
says Hebblethwaite "gained high esteem as an author whose style was
calm, scholarly, and even witty." In accord with the maxim De mortuis
nil nisi bonum, it should be allowed that Hebblethwaite was sometimes witty.
In something of an understatement, the Times notes that "Mr.
Hebblethwaite thought little of John Paul II, and did not conceal his hope
that his successor would reverse what he considered the Vatican's reactionary
attitudes." His final book, The Next Pope, will appear later
this year and offers Mr. Hebblethwaite's views on who is, and who is not,
likely to lead the Church in the directions that he favored. As a Jesuit
priest, Hebblethwaite attended the last sessions of Vatican Council II,
and then edited the Jesuit magazine, The Month, for several years
before deciding that "the spirit of the Council" had been betrayed.
He quit the priesthood in 1974 and married author Margaret Speaight, who
is also Deputy Editor of the Tablet (London), where Hebblethwaite
regularly appeared. Of his books, Paul VI: The First Modern Pope
will probably be of lasting interest. In that biography, he takes a rather
favorable view of Paul VI, in repeated and explicit contrast to John Paul
II. However wrongheaded one may think his views, there can be no doubt
of Hebblethwaite's devotion to the Church as he understood it. Almost nothing
has turned out as Peter Hebblethwaite thought it should have. In the pontificate
of John Paul II, the renewal called for by Vatican II has been construed
in strong continuity with the Church's tradition and, at the time of Hebblethwaite's
death, it was perhaps evident also to him that the pontificate itself is
vibrantly alive and assertive as this Pope intends to lead the Church across
the threshold of the Third Millennium. A heavyset, chain-smoking, indomitable
personality and prolific writer, Peter Hebblethwaite got the big story
almost entirely wrong, in our view, but in the day by day telling of it
he frequently provided an angle of vision that forced others to think more
clearly and a contrariness graced by the joy of battle. The preparation
of journalists for heaven is probably a prolonged affair, but we will not
be surprised if, in due course, celestial delights include reading Peter
Hebblethwaite's inside stories on what the angels are saying around the
Throne. At that point, the big story will no longer be in dispute, which
will improve immeasurably his analysis, and ours.
- A St. Louis reader notes that the prosecutor in the Paul Hill trial
sought the death penalty while the prosecutor in the O. J. Simpson case
did not. She has this question, "What would happen if O. J. Simpson
had killed an abortionist?" We're thinking about it.
- And now for something completely different. According to the Minneapolis
Star Tribune, there is a "national resurgence of the Christian
left." Staff writer Martha Sawyer Allen declares that there is "a
trend in Minnesota, which mirrors a strong national trend: Christian liberals
and moderates are talking openly about morality and values from their perspective."
One might wonder from whose perspective they've been talking all these
years. Be that as it may, we are told that liberal Christians are "seeking
ways to promote their own agendas and recapture the discussions of values
from Christian conservatives." The evidence for this great resurgence
is threefold. ELCA Lutherans in Minnesota are holding a conference "to
celebrate their Lutheran heritage and re-energize their social action agenda."
An organizer says that conservative "grouchies" will not be welcome.
"By the 'grouchies,' Joanne Negstad doesn't mean those who disagree
with her, but those who dominate a debate in negative, blaming, or judgmental
ways. 'We know that not everybody who comes will be in the same place on
their own faith journey,' she said, 'but we want to develop a graceful
spirit of acceptance and listening.'" In other words, the debate will
be dominated in accepting and inclusive ways. The second piece of evidence
for this national resurgence of the Christian left: "Last month, Roman
Catholics brought in Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, a well-known Catholic
liberal and outspoken advocate of gay rights." And a lot of people
showed up. Then there is exhibit number three: Christian feminists met
in Minneapolis "to celebrate the first anniversary of the RE-Imagining
conference, the controversial meeting that celebrated feminine God images."
The story doesn't say how many people showed up for that, but readers will
remember that the reaction to the RE-Imagining conference of 1993, largely
sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (USA), cost several mainline churches
huge bureaucratic headaches and millions of dollars in contributions. Of
such is "the national resurgence of the Christian left." Ralph
Reed, call your office, they're still twitching in Minneapolis.
- It's a standard rhetorical ploy for conservatives opposing a new government
program to ask whether you want the people who run the post office to be
in charge of (whatever the new program is about). One might think the U.S.
Postal Service would be eager to improve its public image, but nothing
of the sort. A month before Christmas, it announced that in 1995 it will
not issue the very popular Christmas stamp of the Virgin and Child. 1995
stamps, the Postmaster General said, will include one portraying a "Victorian-era
angel" and others featuring Santa Claus and children with holiday
gifts. In response to protests, a post office spokesman said the replacement
angel stamp "conveys to all the full significance and meaning of the
season." The protests continued to build, there were rumblings from
Congress and the White House, and the Postmaster General decided that they
will continue the Madonna and Child stamp after all. But new rules published
in the USPS Postal Bulletin bar "Merry Christmas" or "Happy
Hanukkah" signs in local post offices. The bulletin says the post
office "must avoid the appearance of favoring any particular religion
or religion itself." A display for the religious festival of Kwanzaa,
observed by some American blacks, is permitted, the bulletin notes. Oh
yes, postal workers will be permitted to convey season's greetings orally,
so it's not as though anyone's private exercise of religious freedom is
being limited. Citizens can write the U.S. Postal Service to offer their
views on these goings on, but, given the sorry state of mail delivery,
there might not be much point in it.
- For several years a battle has been sputtering, and sometimes flaming,
in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) over, of all things,
the ministerial pension fund. The ELCA had decided it would join many other
institutions in disinvesting from anything in South Africa, and use pension
money to pressure corporations in various directions favored by church
leaders. Pastor Tom Basich of Roseville, Minn., really did not like the
idea that the church was using his pension money to advance what he viewed
as a host of ideologically driven causes. Basich's idea was and is that
the pension fund should make investment decisions to his benefit, and he
would decide on his own what political projects to support or not support.
At first Pastor Basich and a handful of allies were viewed as eccentrics,
but they stuck by their position and it was not long before the ELCA knew
it had a fight on its hands. The whole affair is written up in the December
1994 issue of Smart Money, a magazine published by the Wall Street
Journal, and those who are interested in the potent mix of religion,
money, and politics (sorry, no sex) might want to get their hands on a
- It is true that we have from time to time indicated a less than unqualified
admiration for the New York Times. But something funny is afoot,
and, if it continues, we may have to reconsider our attitude toward the
sleazy old lady of American journalism. Within three weeks of last November's
election, the Times ran three remarkable stories detailing, indeed celebrating,
the work of the Catholic Church with and for the poor. There was one on
November 24 on Fr. Benedict Groeschel and his Franciscan brethren who have
for years run a big food and housing network in the Bronx. Then a report
on school vouchers in New Jersey and how everyone now agrees that the Catholic
schools in the inner cities are the educational gold standard and the best
hope for black and Hispanic youngsters. Then, on Sunday, November 27, a
compelling "Diary of an Urban Priest" that went on for pages,
being the day-by-day notes of Fr. John Flynn of St. Martin du Tours Church
in a particularly embattled section of the Bronx. As if that were not enough,
the November 25 issue of the Wall Street Journal had this glowing
front-page story on "Father Beans" (Lawrence Bohnen) who for
forty years in Haiti has been feeding the poor and, as important, instilling
the habits of work and self-reliance in the slums of Port-Au- Prince and
other cities. (Note: The Journal's news section, as distinct from
the editorial section, is usually just about as dizzy as the Times,
although not, to be sure, as dizzy as the Times' editorial and op-ed
pages.) So what is one to make of this sudden rush of media sanity? First,
we hope it continues, and that they'll include some heroic things being
done also by Protestants working among the poor. Second, that maybe a few
editors have been awakened to the fact that serious one-to-one work with
people in need is almost never done by the government and is typically
done by parties who have a commitment grounded in religious conviction.
(The election's evidence of Americans' robust skepticism toward government
programs may have had something to do with that awakening, if an awakening
there be.) Third, this spurt of attention to real people doing something
real for the poor may be no more than a coincidence. Of course we hope
that is not the case. In any event, you can now hold off on those letters
complaining that we never have anything positive to say about the press.
- Ten fellowships are available for Americans wanting to participate
in the three-week seminar on "The Free Society and Centesimus Annus"
next July 3 through 22 in Krakow, Poland. The faculty includes Michael
Novak, George Weigel, Russell Hittinger, Fr. Maciej Zieba, and this writer.
Fellows must be graduate students or upcoming college seniors, and the
application deadline is April 1. Fellowships cover tuition, lodging, meals,
and excursions. Send c.v., writing sample, and 300 word essay on liberty
to Brian Anderson, American Enterprise Institute, 1150 17th Street NW,
Washington, D.C. 20036. Or call Mr. Anderson at (202) 862-7152.
- We end on the note of a happy beginning. With this issue, Joseph Bottum
(known to readers as J. Bottum and called Jody by his friends) comes on
staff as Associate Editor. A native of South Dakota, Jody did his undergraduate
work at Georgetown and in December 1993 received his Ph.D. from Boston
College. He has taught at the University of Lowell in Massachusetts and
at Loyola College, Baltimore. His field is philosophy, with a particular
interest in medieval philosophy, and those who read his "Christians
and Postmoderns" (April 1994) know that he is no slouch when it comes
to addressing contemporary thought, and thoughtlessness (see also his "A
Suspicion of Snobbery" in this issue). Jody and his wife Lorena are
Roman Catholic and will be living in New York City. The editorial position
was opened up by the retirement of Midge Decter, who since 1991 has been
Distinguished Fellow of the Institute and an invaluable aid in the editing
of the journal. It would be false to say that Mr. Bottum is replacing Midge
Decter, for nobody could do that. But we are confidently expecting great
things from him. This is also an appropriate occasion to mention that Ms.
Decter will be delivering the Institute's annual Erasmus Lecture on Thursday,
April 27, at the Union League Club in New York. Her theme is "A Jew
in Anti-Christian America," and tickets are available by writing this
office. Finally, when we advertised the availability of an editorial post,
we were swamped with applications, many from people who were extraordinarily
well qualified, most of them younger people, and all of them great fans
of the journal. We very much wished we were in a position to hire at least
ten of them. It was a tough choice, but we are grateful to have J. Bottum
with us, and you can be sure that you will be hearing more from him both
in his own voice and in his editorial honing of the voices of others.
Sources: Martin Walker review of
Resurrection and Strange Justice in New York Times Book Review,
November 20, 1994. New York Times editorial "Starving the Poor,"
November 24, 1994. Father Drinan on the 1960s, National Catholic Reporter,
November 18, 1994. Elliott Abrams review of Michael Lerner in American
Spectator, December 1994.
While We're At It: On National History Standards Project, New
York Times, November 19, 1994. On the International Network of Lesbian
and Gay Officials, New York Times, November 23, 1994. British analysis
of American politics, Spectator, November 12, 1994. Quotes on elections
and abortion, Fred Barnes, New Republic, December 5, 1994. Fr. O'Donovan
on Jordanian-Israeli peace ceremonies, America, November 19, 1994.
Hans Kung quoted in the Tablet, November 12, 1994. On 60 Minutes
filming of "Call to Action," National Catholic Reporter,
November 18, 1994. On Catholic universities discriminating against Catholic
faculty, University News of St. Louis University, October 28, 1994.
Texe Marrs on Richard John Neuhaus in Flashpoint, November 1994.
On Peter Hebblethwaite, New York Times, December 20, 1994. On morality
and values among Christian liberals, Minneapolis Star Tribune, November
14, 1994. On Christmas stamp of the Virgin and Child, National and International
Religion Report, November 28, 1994.