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July 27, 2015

As my first book was going through the publishing process at Ignatius Press, the editors sought endorsements from prominent Catholics. Among those who were asked for a blurb was Roger Mahony, then Archbishop of Los Angeles, a see to which he was appointed in 1985. (Six years later he was named a cardinal.)

Three weeks after receiving the manuscript of my book, Mahony replied to Ignatius Press with a letter dated January 28, 1988:

“I am very enthusiastic about the new book, ...

July 20, 2015

As the last weeks of July become the first weeks of August, print and digital media are filled with articles, letters, and comments about the 1945 atomic bombings.

Year after year, the middle of summer is given over to reiterating the same arguments, often made by the same people and in the same words.

Year after year, I shake my head at what is written and wonder why it is that no progress seems to be made in the discussion. So many people talk past one another. Very few even...

July 13, 2015

A voice from the past—my own!

I was cleaning out a storage closet at the office and discovered an early letter I wrote to two friends. It began: “This will bring you up to date on the status of Catholic Answers.”

What a change from then until now, and what a reminder of how much I have forgotten, such as the original proposal for the work of Catholic Answers!

The letter is dated July 27, 1984. That’s three-and-a-half years before I went into apologetics work full time....

July 6, 2015

Language is a tricky thing. With the wrong words or the wrong construction, you can seem to mean things you don’t intend or can seem to intend things you don’t mean. You can get yourself into a lot of trouble. Many Catholics do, particularly when they write online.

At sites such as Facebook, many people have the impression that stream-of-consciousness writing is a good thing. They don’t re-read their words before they push the Send button. Not infrequently, they end up committing the...

June 29, 2015

Determining a bad idea’s antecedents usually is messy and often is impossible. Just when did a particular bad idea begin? Seldom is there an analogue to Athena coming fully formed from the forehead of Zeus.

Usually one bad idea derives from an earlier bad idea, which in turn derives from still earlier bad ideas. In order not to get lost in a long series that disappears into the mists of pre-history, you need to choose a point at which you can say, “For purposes of discussion, I count...