Commonweal

An independent journal of opinion that is edited and managed by lay Catholics. Addresses a broad range of subjects, including national and international politics; social and ethical issues such as abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia; and science and r

Articles from Vol. 138, No. 21, December 2

Below the Law?
From the Editors Should the president of the United States be able to authorize the assassination of a U.S. citizen anywhere in the world without telling the public why--or even acknowledging that he has done so? The question is not theoretical....
Christmas Critics
The editor suggested writing about books published in the past ten years, though he would tolerate a reference to something older. Taking full advantage of this concession I shall start with a book published 170 years ago, I have long regarded Dickens...
Dead Men Walking 'Margin Gall'
Last year, at a college reunion, I attended a panel on the financial meltdown featuring three classmates with long careers on Wall Street. Expecting a frank discussion of the calamity, I was startled to hear a round of breathless stories along the...
Eyeopener: Journey of the Universe' on PBS
Painted stars splay across the ceiling of an old Greek church. A flower blooms in slow motion. Tree roots twine serenely round the rocks of an ancient ruin. The images in the nonfiction film Journey of the Universe are luminously beautiful--and so...
No Thanks
As a biographer, I believe the true and legitimate purpose of acknowledgments is to thank those who helped me people who were interviewed, and sent unpublished letters and photographs; contemporary authors who wrote about what the subject meant to...
Peeling the Onion: No Tears for Students on Capitol Hill
There were howls of protest when the Onion, our nation's preeminent satirical newspaper, ran a story titled "Congress Takes Groups of Schoolchildren Hostage: 'We Need $12 Trillion or All These Kids Die.'" The Capitol police were not amused. The...
The 1-Percent Problem: How Americans Can Save Themselves from Plutocracy
The theme of most political and social commentary is that things are more complicated than you think. For once, I wish to write that things are simpler than you think. This concerns two matters at the core of the present American political crisis....
The Journalist as Theologian: A Tribute to Gregory Baum
Their number is not legion, and it continues to dwindle. The few remaining Second Vatican Council Fathers alive today are in their nineties, and their able theological experts--the periti--not far behind. But at least one in this august company is...
When Is Self-Interest Moral? A Gap in Catholic Social Teaching
Lutheran bishop Peter Rogness recently decried our national loss of awareness that government is self-government, and warned that political discourse "to rally people against their own government ... is like an immune system run amuck that eats the...