I'm deeply disappointed in Scott Adams. The progenitor of Dilbert, prince of wonks and prophet for a generation of corporate coolies, has proved to be nothing more than a common internet troll, and a mendacious one at that. When posters on MetaFilter attacked his Wall Street Journal piece, "How to Ge… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 10, 2011 1:16PM

The devil gets all the good tunes

Why do the worst regimes have the snappiest anthems? 

Just last Monday, in a chivalrous defense of Christina Aguilera, Slate re-ran a piece, "Our Irrational Anthem," in which Jacob Weisberg argues that the "Star-Spangled Banner" casts vocalists into a grammatical and compositional mine… Read full post »

In a piece for Salon, Emily Matchar, a self-described overeducated, ambitious atheist, confesses an addiction to Mormon lifestyle blogs. She admits finding an odd allure in the bloggers' lives of simple faith and serial childbearing. When my generation wanted a break from urban anomie, we f… Read full post »

DECEMBER 22, 2010 1:46AM

Summer of my Russian jackboots

Russian army-issue jackboots are -- you'll pardon the expression -- a bear to get into. Simply stepping into the things is impossible. They narrow at the ankle; your toe will touch bottom, but your heel will catch on the wall. You can try to force your way in by tugging and… Read full post »

The denouement of Mikhail Yur'evich Lermontov's Hero of Our Time, one of Russian literature's earliest classics, turns, more or less, on a piece of military outerwear. A cadet attracts a naïve young princess by appearing, enigmatically, in an enlisted man‘s great-coat. As soon as she sees… Read full post »

DECEMBER 13, 2010 1:37PM

A peacenik's plea for Catholic chaplains

Every once in a while some peacenik progressive Catholic writes an opinion piece that makes me ashamed to be a peacenik progressive Catholic. Last Friday, it was National Catholic Reporter's Colman McCarthy, who explains, in "The Check is Definitely Not in the Mail," why the U.S. Archdiocese for Mili… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 20, 2010 6:50PM

Houses and the holy

With no family in town, and with too much pride to quarter myself on friends, I tend to spend Thanksgivings by myself. Normally, this suits me fine. Phoenix shuts up completely, so window-shopping in Old Town Scottsdale becomes a study in perfect solitude.  It might sound dull, but a c… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 15, 2010 1:59PM

The importance of being Fregley

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, has been out since November 9. But I have yet to read it. I was so taken with the first four installments of Jeff Kinney’s wildly popular series of children’s graphic novels that I fear I might body check a soccer mom --… Read full post »

OCTOBER 21, 2010 4:58PM

Why the Rally to Restore Sanity is nuts

The Daily Show is hosting a sane-off. Visitors to the show's official website are invited to post pictures of the signs they plan to carry at October 30th's Rally to Restore Sanity; other visitors are invited to rate them -- "Sane" or "Insane." So far, winners include: "My Political Views Cannot… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 19, 2010 5:31PM

The year in sanity: Fr. James Martin, S.J.

Salon readers will probably remember Fr. James Martin, S.J. from the Colbert Report, where he serves as "official chaplain," and occasionally takes the couch to present the Catholic Church's user-friendliest side.  When Glenn Beck warned Catholics that social justice was the first step toward fa… Read full post »

OCTOBER 17, 2010 12:22AM

Rich Iott: Just a phase

Ohio congressional hopeful Rich Iott, roundly damned for dressing as an SS man in World War Two reenactments, has ordered his critics: "Halt!" A judicious, selective admiration for the Nazis, he insists, is no bad thing. With some chagrin, I must take Iott's part -- sort of. Though ethnically Jewish,… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 18, 2010 3:55PM

Liking the Like

Yesterday, via Facebook, a friend announced that his girlfriend had given birth to a seven-pound baby boy. The news put me in an awkward position. My own life being stalled, I'm in no mood to offer congratulations on anyone else's major life passages. Commiserating on failures is more my bag. If… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 14, 2010 5:43PM

The long littleness of life

When I was growing up, my father and I played a game whose rules we never spelled out, but which we understood implicitly. I would bring up a figure I found heroic, my father would reveal his feet of clay. "Monty Clift?" "Gay as a box of frogs." "Audie Murphy?" "No-talent… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 9, 2010 1:24PM

The peacefulest Muslims I've known

Heaven help me if I sound too pious here, but one of my first thoughts after hearing the news of 9/11-- okay, one of my first five thousand -- was: "I hope nobody's done any dirt to the Yusufzais." This was the family that owned the liquor store next to my… Read full post »

AUGUST 20, 2010 2:29PM

I eat meat: get over it

I like to think of myself as an animal lover.  I talk in baby-talk to strangers' dogs.  When my best friend threatened to have his basset hound puppy de-barked -- that is, rendered unable to bark above a whisper via the removal of tissue from her vocal cords --  I threatened… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 17, 2010 10:11PM

My mother, my beta-reader

My mother is a writer by nature. Her e-mails echo the cadences of the Regency and Victorian masters -- or rather, given her passion for Jane Austen and George Eliot, mistresses. Even when she sends on bad news, I open her letters with glee, just to breathe in her virtuosity with… Read full post »

Shaker Heights, Ohio -- Ten-year-old Jared Wemyss is depressed. According to his father, Rory, school has become "torture," and gym class "an exercise in abject humiliation."

Jared's problem? "It's the girls," says Wemyss, 38, an insurance agent. "They're growing into a pack of valkyries before they… Read full post »

JULY 29, 2010 5:28PM

Gay priests? Sure

Lending a new meaning to the term "embedded," a journalist from the Italian news magazine Panorama tagged along with three Catholic priests and another man -- described by the Daily Mail as the reporter's "gay accomplice" -- and filmed the four as they "happily took part in gay events and had… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 21, 2010 10:19PM

The anti-family family

Several years ago, my aunt called to tell me that she planned to have my father's body dug up and moved to the family plot in Florida. There, it would rest beside those of their parents, and eventually, near my aunt's own. I protested. His current grave, in a tiny cemetery… Read full post »

JULY 20, 2010 3:30PM

Heresy in the digital age

For the Catholic Church as a whole, Fr. Thomas Doyle, O.P., a distinguished canon lawyer, often doubles in the role of Cassandra. He makes appalling predictions; his superiors dismiss him as a crackpot; the predictions come true. In 1985, he issued a letter, warning bishops that restoring pedophile p… Read full post »

Since I am a punk layman with an 800-word vocabulary, wrestling with Catholic moral theology makes me feel a lot like the tiny chicken hawk from the Looney Tunes short who tries to capture the ponderous Foghorn Leghorn. I see something that strikes me as wrongheaded; I try to form a case… Read full post »

During the Fourth Crusade, St. Francis of Assisi booked passage to the Middle East, gained an audience with the Seljuq sultan Malik al-Kamil, and proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Exactly how Francis rated his chances of converting the Muslim warlord is unclear. But, to hear G.K. Chesterton tell… Read full post »

MAY 21, 2010 10:08PM

Open call: Ten questions

1.   What is your favorite word?


"Egregious."  I never use it in writing, since it tends to sound blustery, but I've loved hearing it ever since a girlfriend's father referred to his other daughter's beau as, "An egregious fuckin' tool."  Actually, "tool" ra… Read full post »

In choosing to write about Catholic affairs for readers who are areligious, or even anti-religious, I must seem to have shot myself right through the foot. The cursing mommy types who read Salon could care less which pope issued which motu proprio in what year. By and large, they're spiritual, not… Read full post »

When princes of the Catholic Church speak, on or off the cuff, they don’t normally set out to tear paint off walls. When we Catholics are in the mood for drama, we’re left to dig for it ourselves. Even false finds generate enough heated blog posts to cut through the day‘s… Read full post »