John Zmirak

John Zmirak is the author, most recently, of The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins (Crossroad). He served from October 2011 to February 2012 as editor of Crisis.

recent articles

A Most Diligent Mother: Angelica

Editor’s note: In honor of Mother Angelica, who passed away on March 27, we reprint the following article by former Crisis editor John Zmirak, which appeared in Crisis Magazine on November 18, 2009. Leaving aside the popes, the person who has served as the public face of the Church in the United States for the past two … Read more

Hagia Sophia is No Lady

The primary use of sexual metaphors in Christianity is to convey the balance of activity and passivity, initiative and response, between the Lord and a human soul. We call the Church the “bride” of Christ, and Jesus the “bridegroom” of the soul precisely because of what these terms convey to psychologically normal people…

Picking up the Broadsword

It was only in 1991 that the truth sank in to me: I am probably not going to die in a nuclear war. It’s conceivable I might have grandchildren. The magnificent City of New York, from the stained glass of St. Vincent Ferrer to the Art Deco gargoyles of the Chrysler Building, would not certainly … Read more

America: Christian or Jacobin?

The following review originally appeared in the Summer 2005 edition of The Intercollegiate Review, and appears with the permission of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.   Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity, by Samuel P. Huntington, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004, $16.   This is a rare book—erudite and readable, analytical but … Read more

Dogged Faith and Fermented Honey

If you live in a major city which happens to be blessed by immigrants from Ethiopia, you may already have been exposed to a little of that country’s fascinating culture and cuisine. One of the African nations with the oldest continuous literate culture, it is also one of the two countries that first embraced Christianity; … Read more

Ron Paul and Pius IX

I wrote here once before about the repartee that keeps the snarks flying between me and my beloved lady Texan. I noted that each of us treasures his own impossible dream. In mine, the Habsburg monarchy is restored in Central Europe, accepting the voluntary fealty of most of its historic realms (I don’t expect the Czechs, … Read more

Dawson’s Usura Canto

It gives me no pleasure addressing Christopher Dawson’s views  on economics. I learned much from Dawson in my formative years, reading The Sundering of Christendom and The Crisis of Western Education back in high school, and many of his other books in later years. His synthesis of Catholic and Western history is so persuasive, and … Read more

Campaign Scorecard

As a resident of New Hampshire, it’s hard for me to miss the spastic surges of activity that precede the upcoming Republican primary. On the one hand, I find this year’s contest refreshing, since it’s one of the first years since 1976 (when, as an eager 11-year-old, I cheered on Reagan’s challenge to the torpid … Read more

Say It Loud: Bourgeois and Proud

The following essay, which first appeared at FrontPage Magazine, continues yesterday’s symposium on the “bourgeois spirit.” See also Dawson’s Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind, Jeffrey Tucker’s reply, In Defense of Bourgeois Civilization, John Peter Pham’s classic review of A Humane Economy, and Gerard Russello’s account of Dawson’s contribution. The 20th century, for all the scientific … Read more

The Empty Manger

  This year, as every year, the crèche has sat empty of God. The shepherds knelt, the angels sang, the ox and ass and eager lamb looked on, even Joseph and Mary stared down adoringly—at a vacant manger. There was no Infant here. When people knelt before this nativity scene to pray, they closed their … Read more

King Henry VIII, Come Save Us!

The following is an excerpt from The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Wine, Whiskey, and Song, which can arrive gift-wrapped in time for Christmas if you order today.   It’s obvious that any tome whose authors hope will be carried into bars and used as a songbook must include a heartrending love song. While it’s true … Read more

Render Unto Caesar

This essay first appeared at (now Crisis) August 26, 2008. It is part of today’s symposium of lay Catholic opinion on immigration. For other contributions see this piece by Mark and Louise Zwick, this one by Christopher Manion, and this news report from Zenit. For Deal Hudson’s view, see this article in The American … Read more

Our Lady of Guadalupe: Bleeding Hearts, Liberated

This essay is excerpted from The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Good Living (2005), which remains an excellent Christmas gift (hint, hint).   If you think Mexican politics are raucous now, you should have been there in the 16th century. Before the Spanish arrived, the warlike Aztec Empire based in Tenochtitlan held the neighboring nations in … Read more

Where Theology Keeps Her Crown: Thomas More College

In the Middle Ages where Western universities were invented, theology was unchallenged as the “queen of the sciences.” Philosophy, the loving pursuit of wisdom, served as theology’s humble “handmaiden,” and arguments drawn from either could uncrown kings and change the fate of nations. Today, even in Catholic colleges, theology is treated more like the madwoman … Read more

Gingrich and Immigration

  Newt Gingrich is facing criticism from other Republican candidates for his proposals to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants in America, revealing the deep-seated frustration of conservatives at the failure of the federal government to control America’s borders. On a gut level, the issue of amnesty for illegals reflects the unease of Americans … Read more

Why Things Cost Money

God has granted me a reprieve. Seven whole days have passed without a major American state abolishing marriage, or a Catholic hero dying prematurely at 98. That frees me up to return to the happy task of unfolding a layman’s understanding of the market economy, viewed through the lens of Christian ethics and prudent political … Read more

Good Night, Good Prince

July Fourth’s fireworks flashed for me beneath a long, sad shadow. On the birthday of my motherland died my fatherland’s father: Otto von Habsburg, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and son of Blessed Karl I (the last man to serve that Catholic empire as its steward). It was Karl who reigned when my grandfather left … Read more

Surrendering Marriage

June is a good month for surrenders. On June 25, 1940, France capitulated after Germany’s lightning defeat of Allied armies. The armistice that took effect that day ceded more than half the country to foreign occupation, and relegated the rest to management by those Frenchmen willing to collaborate with Germany — supposedly to preserve some shred … Read more

Redeeming Alma Mater

As the reader may have realized, I’m a man of many hats. Sometimes I wear the mortarboard of a college English teacher; at others, the battered fedora of a patriotic, pro-family columnist. For the past few columns, as an observer of economics, I’ve donned the green eye-shade, but this week I’m putting on the Tyrolean … Read more

The Price Is Right

Last week I outlined just how complicated the economy really is. Society is confronted with the almost incalculable problem of how to meet the indefinite needs of a massive and diverse population. Anyone who has raised a decent-sized family knows just how hard it is to satisfy even a small group of people whom you … Read more

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