By this author
It's been almost two weeks since Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio, a Jesuit leader of interreligious peacebuilding in Syria, has vanished. It's been more than one week since the date after which he told his friends "to raise the alarm" if they had not heard from him. They -- and we -- are still waiting.
The coverage of his disapperance has been relatively widespread. John Allen's Friday column led with the story, tying it to the previous kidnappings of the Syrian Orthodox bishop and Greek Orthodox metropolitan of Aleppo. It even made the print edition of the Wall Street Journal. But no one seems to know what, if anything, can be done.
I only met Fr. Paolo once, sharing a meal, when he visited Fordham University in 2011. I obviously can't claim him has a friend. But I have been unexpectedly angry, disdainful, and plaintive in heart since hearing of his alleged kidnapping. Part of my response comes from my writing a book about early Christianity in Syria at the same time as its current civil war. Another part of it comes from having written scholarship about the art of the medieval monastery, Mar Musa al-Habashi, which is what Fr. Paolo refounded after centuries of abandonment and made into a site of pilgrimage for Christians and Muslims who wanted to meet in peace and prayer.
Many have been noting how Pope Francis has emphasized from day one his role as the Bishop of ROME. Another storyline has focused on his preference for simpler vestments and regalia, and this has been seen as a break with tradition.
In the chilling anthology, Poems from Guantanamo, the following was penned by Adnan Latif:
They are artists of torture,
They are artists of pain and fatigue,
They are artists of insults and humiliation.
Where is the world to save us from torture?
Where is the world to save us from the fire and sadness?
Where is the world to save the hunger strikers?
Mr. Latif was the same age as me when he died. But he had spent over ten years imprisoned in Guantanamo. He was guilty of no crime or conspiracy to commit one, as was repeatedly found by every conceivable authority who examined the case. A summary of his time there can be found here. He was cleared for release as long ago as 2004.
Antonin Scalia, just a few days ago:
In a speech to lawyers gathered June 21 in Asheville, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia decried judicial activism.
David Brooks's column today is vintage Brooks.
In preparation for a workshop at the New York Catholic Bible Summit, I have been exploring the ways in which Jesus' parables can be defamiliarized for seasoned Christians. The parables can lose some of their dramatic force through repetition over the years. How many times have you heard the Good Samaritan? When it comes up again in the lectionary next month, will your mind wander, since you know every word of the story by heart? How can we hear the parables anew?
"Nothing threatens Americas national security more than the perception that we are at war with Islam," I wrote four years ago in this magazine.It was a follow-up ("Disgrace") to a longer piece about the role that perceived abuse of religious items and symbols played in the memories of former Guantanamo detainees ("The Secret Weapon"). To my knowledge, those two articles still remain the most thorough treatment of the place of religion in U.S.
One of the most memorable seminars I ever attended as a student was in a political philosophy course, in which one week covered debates about wealth stratification in ideal and real societies. We students were to submit short position papers about what we thought would be the ideal ratio of income inequality in a society.
The jaw-dropping swiftness with which the Senate responded to this week's flight delays, which were predicted as a result of sequestration, provides a perfect example of plutocracy in action. When sequestration began to affect the quality of life for frequent travelers -- an affluent segment of our society -- the Senate did all it could to take the pain away.
Over the past few years, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., has been at the forefront of attempts by Catholic bishops to define the scope of Catholic theology in the United States. To his credit, he is keen to engage with younger theologians in Catholic colleges and universities.