95 results
September 6, 2016
Elephant tree in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California

I wanted to get far from the madding crowd, so on a Friday I lit out for Anza Borrego Desert State Park, two hours from San Diego. From the east-west highway I turned south onto a narrow paved road, then west onto a rutted and rocky dirt road, which ended at a small parking area. No one else was around.

There was no trail to follow, so I went up a dry wash, hiking three miles over an alluvial fan and another three into a deep canyon, where I had to scramble over dry falls and through...

August 19, 2016

Newspaper, magazine, and online commentators have served up any number of reasons for the hatred underlying terrorist attacks. Many of them say the root of the problem is that terrorists resent American prosperity. I remember when a recent president said, “They hate us for our freedoms.” I doubt it. Terrorists don’t care, one way or the other, about our Bill of Rights.

I don’t recall demonstrations against the right of Americans to assemble peaceably, to petition for redress of...

August 8, 2016
Atomic bomb mushroom clouds over Hiroshima (left) and Nagasaki (right).

August 6 and 9 mark the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’ll be visiting those cities in October, doing research for a book. For months I’ve been reading histories and commentaries about the end of the war in the Pacific, and I’ve been brushing up on my Japanese. More months of research will follow my trip.

My particular focus is the rhetoric of the bombings: How do people talk about and debate them? Most particularly, how do people...

July 29, 2016
Pope Pius XII

After a good number of years as a Catholic apologist, having found myself in the same kinds of situations over and over again, I had a “first time” experience. I was asked to speak to a Jewish group about Pope Pius XII and his actions (and supposed inactions) before and during World War II.

We sat in a large circle, the two dozen or so of us who met in the community room at a mall. I presumed nothing on the part of my listeners except that they probably were not familiar with my...

July 14, 2016

Some people look at the darkening cloud and try to find the silver lining. Others see the lining first and pretty much put the cloud out of their minds. I know it may be more responsible to adopt the first attitude, but often enough I find myself taking the second.

We already have entered into a long, hot summer. Temperatures have been in the triple digits here (Fahrenheit, not Celsius, thankfully), and the warmest months are still to come. I wouldn’t be surprised if Southern...