98 results
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...

June 30, 2016

I was invited to Thursday dinner at the largest parish in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Arriving right on time, I was disconcerted to find the rectory empty except for the housekeeper.

“I’m sorry,” I said to her. “I must have marked the wrong date on my calendar.”

“No, you have the right date,” she replied, “but dinner will be a bit late. All the priests are still hearing confessions.”

“On a Thursday?”

When the four priests returned to the rectory, the pastor...

May 23, 2016

Late one Saturday afternoon, I was snoozing on the sofa when the doorbell awakened me. Craning my neck, I noticed two well-dressed young women at the screen door.

“What can I do for you?” I called out, thinking they were Avon ladies and not wanting to be disturbed.

“We’re Witnesses of Jehovah, and we’d like to share some Scripture truths with you.”

I was up in a flash. My wife was about to put an early supper on the table. “Go ahead without me,” I told her. “I have work...