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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...

June 15, 2015

I spent the last few days at a men’s retreat in Nebraska. To a Californian, Nebraska is a peculiar state. It’s unrelentingly green and nearly flat. Low hills rise just enough to block distant vistas. You can’t see more than a couple of miles, at least in the part of the state where I was. Your view is truncated, which may be appropriate when trying to focus on the interior life.

April 26, 2015

Saturday’s lead editorial in our local newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, was titled “Who Should Represent California: Father Serra or Sally Ride?”

There is a movement afoot (and more than afoot: it seems to be running to the finish line with almost no opposition) to replace the statue of Junipero Serra that appears in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol with a statue of Sally Ride. Serra’s statue has been there since 1931. Ride’s statue is yet to be commissioned.


March 16, 2015

It is said that half of all the art in Europe is in Italy, and half of all the art in Italy is in Florence. That may not be arithmetically precise, but it can’t be far from the truth.

When Florentine art is mentioned, everyone thinks of the giant Uffizi Gallery, but there are many other showplaces, among my favorite being the Bargello, which once served as a jail but today houses chiefly sculpture, and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, where the best pieces from the cathedral are kept....

February 17, 2013

After some years away from him, I’m back on a Ronald Knox jag. I’ve got several shelves of his books—nearly everything he wrote—and a few nights ago compared what I have to the listing of his works in Evelyn Waugh’s biography of him. Of the few titles I didn’t have, I found some at online book dealers, so three are on their way to me.

One book I hadn’t taken down from the shelves in a long while was Essays in Satire, published in 1930. Two of the essays particularly caught my...