Music and Meaning

    Before starting any reviews this month, I must exercise (or is it exorcise?) my ire. The Economist magazine offered a December cover story, "Why Music?" that requires comment. The piece asks, "What exactly is it for?" Given the article’s art work — drawings of half-naked women emanating from the brain of a rock … Read more

The Church, the Mother of Memory

When Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple discussing with the elders the ancient law of Israel, they did not understand what they had seen, nor what He meant when He said, “Did you not know that I must be about my father’s business?” Yet we are told that His mother “kept all these … Read more

A Christmas Pilgrimage

Our Christmas tree still blinks in the window, though most of our neighbors have taken down all signs of Christmas. Our nativity remains on the front lawn, too, and will until after the Feast of the Epiphany. Each year it seems we struggle harder to “keep Christmas” amid the marketeering that now characterizes what most … Read more

Why Hitler Stole the Art of Europe

  Adolf Hitler aspired to be a painter, and he became a tyrant. As a painter he was mediocre, but his understanding of art’s power was second to none. Hitler knew that conquering Europe would require more than war; it would call for a complete domination of the culture, especially its art and architecture.   … Read more

The Serenity Player

I spent Halloween of 1998 at a pumpkin-carving party in a dorm room high in a Yale tower. We were having a great time in our collegiate world, teasing each other about newfound philosophical convictions and relating our best weird-professor stories, when someone glanced out the window and exclaimed, “Trick-or-treaters!” Instantly the whole room crowded … Read more

Nostril Muscles and Other Secrets

“Watch this, Mom,” my red-haired, eleven-year-old son yelped yesterday, his brown eyes dancing with amusement. He yanked a white tissue from the Kleenex box and blew. Smiling largely, his drippy nose reddened to match his hair. “Well,” I ventured, “very nice job, dear, blowing your nose.” As I cocked my head quizzically, he offered, “Mom, … Read more

What Is a Leader?

The verb “to lead” means to be out in front. But it also has the implication of knowing where the group that one leads is to go. The image of the lead mountain climber mistakenly guiding the troupe over a cliff comes to mind. The leader is supposed to know the way and to know … Read more

Outside “Catholic”

I recently watched a strange movie recommended on InsideCatholic. Ushpizin, or The Holy Guests, is about a middle-aged Chasidic couple whose faith is tested by longstanding infertility. The plot is archetypally Jewish, a charming spin on the story of Abraham and Sarah. There’s nothing strange there. What’s really odd is that it turns out that … Read more

Musical Diary

At the annual fundraising dinner of the Morley Institute, the sponsor of InsideCatholic and the late Crisis magazine, I have sometimes been asked by polite guests if my work as a music critic is full-time. I have smiled painfully and said, “No,” usually without revealing my day job as a warmonger at the Defense Department. … Read more

Chesterton’s Overrated Novella

This year marks the pseudo-centennial of G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. (First published as a pilot edition in 1907, the work was published in wider numbers the following year.) Journals as divergent as The New Yorker and The National Review have honored the anniversary with positive assessments of the book, which — … Read more

The Speech Hillary Longed to Give

Scene: The Democratic Convention. Denver, August 26, 2008. HILLARY CLINTON motions her hand to speak. FIRST CITIZEN. Stay, ho! and let us hear Hillary. THIRD CITIZEN. Let her go up into the public chair; We’ll hear her. — Noble Hillary, go up. HILLARY. For Obama’s sake, I am beholding to you. [Goes up, clad in … Read more

When I Was Cruel

Alan Moore — pagan, anarchist, wildly bearded author of V for Vendetta and the terrific superhero-deconstruction comic Watchmen — is not the person one might expect to write a poignant story of homecoming, conscience, repentance, and renewal. Then again, he is just the sort of person to write a horror comic about an advertising designer … Read more

Catholic Art

  “Don’t talk to me about those idiots, cluttering the fields with their easels. Had I the authority of a tyrant, I’d order the police to shoot them all down.” This was Edgar Degas, speaking less about the then-contemporary rage for landscape painting than about the ideals of the Impressionists. He was, to understate the case, … Read more

The Pope’s Music

This month I must reflect on a phone call I received from an old and discerning friend who was extremely upset over the music used at the papal Mass in Washington on April 17, and on a note another friend sent saying, “It was as if the Washington, D.C., crowd were pleasing themselves and not … Read more

The Boiler House Saint

Russian film director Pavel Lungin is perhaps most famous for his bleak, gritty dramas about the despair of post-Communist Russia, earning him a reputation as a fan favorite at film festivals around the world. His most recent film, Ostrov (The Island), was named the closing picture at the 2006 Venice Film Festival, nominated for a Grand Jury … Read more

Piety? Who Needs Piety?

“What do you think you’re doing!” cried the great scientist to the soldier, as he leaned over his tracings in the sand. The soldier — who had no idea who the man was, and how much his commander wanted him alive — slew him on the spot.   Had his world needed the works of … Read more

What You Need to Know About Modern American Music

This and next month, I want to talk about modern American music because I have been listening to new releases in the stellar Naxos American Classics series, as well as to some other new CDs of American music. Curiously, the one thing of which I may be sure is that very few readers will have … Read more


I do not own a computer printer. My computer is itself a small laptop, which would be too easily dwarfed by such a thing. Worse, if I did have a printer, I would be tempted to use it, and I would soon find that I needed an extra filing cabinet, then a bank of cabinets, … Read more

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

Signup to receive new Crisis articles daily

Email subscribe stack
Share to...