Oh, Susanna! The poetry and pro-life power of baby names

The big news from the Social Security Administration is the ousting of a champion: Liam has dethroned Noah as the nation’s most popular boy name. This was the headline of its newly released baby-name report, an annual synthesis of Social Security card applications from the past year that offers a fascinating cultural statement and doubles as a tip sheet for expectant parents.

The death of an evangelical titan

I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Billy Graham preach about 20 years ago in Cincinnati. At the time, Dr. Graham was around 80 years old and clearly in frail health. He came to the podium and commenced to speak, but the crowd of young people, stirred up by the Christian rock bands who had performed earlier, was restive and inattentive. Graham paused, folded his hands, and quietly said, “Let us pray.” With that, a stadium of 50,000 people fell silent. Once a spirit of reverence held sway, the preacher resumed. I remember thinking, “What an old pro!”

An evening with William Lane Craig

Ten years ago, when I was a visiting scholar at the North American College in Rome, I fell into a spirited conversation with one of the seminarians about the state of evangelization in America. We both were bemoaning the fact that the “new” atheists — Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and others — were regularly attacking religion, and I commented that no Christian spokesman had managed to engage the enemies of the faith well on the public scene.

‘Lady Bird’ and the breakthrough of grace

Greta Gerwig’s new film, Lady Bird, has taken the critics by storm. It is the most-reviewed movie in the history of the website Rotten Tomatoes to have sustained a 100 percent positive rating, and it is receiving serious Oscar buzz for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress. Having seen the coming attractions, I knew it would be a quirky, offbeat comedy, but I had no idea that Lady Bird would be of considerable religious interest as well.

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