Ellen B. Koneck
By this author
If it weren’t for his premature death in 1968, Thomas Merton would turn 100 years old this January 31. Fortunately for us, his legacy and wisdom continue to influence each new generation through the prolific corpus of spiritual writing he left.
I suspect Merton is one of the most well-known and beloved figures in recent American history. But for those of you who might be unfamiliar, he was an ivy-league nihilist turned Trappist monk, mystic, writer, poet, and activist, who spent his days at an abbey in Gethsemani, Kentucky.
Our first split wasn’t a conscious decision, given the lack of brain development or will power at that early stage in gestation, when a single fertilized egg divided into Emily and me.
I suppose our second real split came at about five and a half years. Twins at my elementary school had to decide before beginning kindergarten whether they always wanted to be in the same class or always in different classes. Though I don’t know precisely why we chose separate classes, I have a strong feeling it had something to do with collectively making the highest possible number of friends.
Long-time Commonweal contributor Cathleen Kaveny has joined the faculty at Boston College as the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor, a position that includes appointments in both the department of theology and the law school. Cathy is the first in BC's history to hold a joint appointment. Her colleagues at BC are understandably enthusiastic about working with Kaveny:
It’s a shame that the term “War on Christmas”—demeaning to both the gravity of war and the spirit of Christmas—is now associated with efforts to display overtly religious symbols in public places during the month of December. As Mollie’s recent column suggested, might the hawkishness with which Christmas Warriors are picking these fights hinder their cause? And moreover, isn’t this term a bit patronizing to those who have or are currently fighting in real wars?
In 2000, our editors wrote: “Will Nelson Mandela ever stop astounding and humbling the world by the force of his moral vision and the transformative authority of his personal courage and conviction?” The question was in response to Mandela's efforts to end Brundi's civil war, but it expresses what has been said in so many of the tributes in the week since his death, in wonder over how much he was able to accomplish. Commonweal over the years chronicled Mandela's fight against apartheid, his imprisonment, and his release and subsequent election as president of South Africa.
Today marks the anniversary of the death of Gordon Zahn: pacifist, professor, author and longtime contributor to Commonweal. His practical and theological contributions to issues of conscience, war, peace, and social justice in the Catholic tradition remain relevant even years after his death.
This past Tuesday marked Commonweal's 89th birthday. We’re planning some bigger things to mark the big nine-oh in 2014, but for now we thought we’d celebrate at home (on the blog) with a few close friends (that’s you).
Today, October 24, is the anniversary of not just one but two of the biggest U.S. stock-market crashes in history: Black Thursday in 1929, which heralded the Great Depression, and Bloody Friday in 2008, which hastened in the worst recession since then.
What is it about the 24th? Or maybe a bigger question: What is it about October? On Oct. 27, 1997, there was the “mini-crash” of the Asian markets, and on Oct. 19, 1987—“Black Monday”—the U.S. market saw its biggest one-day drop in history, 508 points.