Commentary

A reflection on the Irish referendum

I will confess that as a person of Irish heritage on both sides of my family, I found the events in Ireland last week particularly dispiriting. Not only did the nation vote, by a two-to-one margin, for the legal prerogative to kill their children in the womb, but they also welcomed and celebrated the vote with a frankly sickening note of gleeful triumph. Will I ever forget the unnerving looks and sounds of the frenzied crowd gathered to cheer their victory in the courtyard of Dublin Castle? As the right to abortion now sweeps thoroughly across the Western world, I am put in mind of Gloria Steinem’s mocking remark from many years ago to the effect that if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. I say this because abortion has indeed become a sacrament for radical feminism, the one, absolutely sacred, non-negotiable value for so-called progressive women. 

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.

A vocation of mercy

I grew up Catholic without ever hearing about the Divine Mercy devotion, which the church celebrates annually on the Sunday after Easter. Even after I had learned about it, I didn’t understand it. A few sisters in my community placed great confidence in the Divine Mercy image and chaplet, but it never really appealed to me. “Why focus on the sorrowful passion and wounds of Christ when we should be singing our Easter alleluias?” I wondered.

Celibacy revisited

Writing in the first person is always a risk, but the subject matter of this column is best done, I feel, through personal testimony. In a world where chastity and celibacy are seen as naive and to be pitied and where there’s a general skepticism that anyone is actually living them out, personal testimony is perhaps the most effective protest.

A case for priestly celibacy

There is a very bad argument for celibacy which has reared its head throughout the tradition and which is, even today, defended by some. It runs something like this: Married life is morally and spiritually suspect; priests, as religious leaders, should be spiritual athletes above reproach; therefore, priests shouldn’t be married. 

Politics trumping conscience in Olympia

Recently Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed a “public records” law that seemed to have one purpose: to allow legislators to conceal their decision-making process from the people. He now has another chance to take the high road, showing that public service means more than political expediency.

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!”