Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mi cava no es su cava – 1953

The Jesuits are a caste society, not so colorfully garbed as the Hindus perhaps, and with a slightly less florid mythology, but more upwardly mobile and with a much richer diet. The Jesuit candidate was made to stoop to enter that society through a cellar door as a lowly Novice. Purged of all worldliness by […]

The Late Harvest of Hellenism: Muslim Baghdad and Christian Toledo

Introduction Almost four decades ago I wrote a book called The Harvest of Hellenism. I am still very fond of the title, though I must confess that it is only half mine. The first half I stole from Heiko Oberman, the celebrated Reformation historian.  His work was called The Harvest of Medieval Theology, and I […]

The Holy Places of Jerusalem

When Jerusalem first appears in biblical history it is a town without a past, a newly conquered Jebusite settlement that David had made the capital of his still insecure Israelite kingdom. Today it is once again the capital of a Jewish state, but in the three millennia that separate the modern city from David’s cramped […]

The Clan Hanrahan 1955

After nine years wrestling with the devil and myself in the Society of Jesus, I now was back, once again a layman, exactly where I had begun, in an apartment in a remote corner of the Bronx. It was not a good time, that winter of ’55. Pelham Bay was as little conducive to optimistic […]

“And on the third day…” The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth 2-12

The life of Jesus of Nazareth ended on a Friday afternoon in the springtime of what was probably 30 A.D. Born not long before the death of Herod the Great in 4 B.C., he would have been in his early thirties at his own death. Present at his end were a few of his followers, […]

How Can We Know Anything About Jesus of Nazareth? 12-11

To begin with, when we try to glimpse figures from the past, even the most recent past, we are constrained to view them through one or more filters. These filters, our informants, whether eye-witnesses or the subject him or herself, are all tinted with reflection, forgetfulness, a disheartening range of ideologies and either an overdose […]

Ours: The Making and Unmaking of a Jesuit

It pleases the Jesuits to call themselves “Ours.” “Ours” were not to own property, were to regard the Superior as the instrument of the will of God and were to have as little as possible to do with Externs, all those who were not “One of Ours.” I am an Extern of long standing now, […]

The Gospel, the Qur’an and the Mishnah in Conversation 3-12

The assumption that sits beneath the monotheistic faith of Jews, Christians and Muslims is that God, the creator of the universe and of everything in it, has chosen, “at sundry times and divers manners,” to communicate with His human creatures. Early on the converse seems to have had a social quality, as when God strolled […]

Where Are My Other Twelve Minutes? 1990

I was recently interviewed in my office at New York University by someone working on a project about former Jesuits. He was a “former” something himself as I soon learned from the way he kept trying to insert his own petty anecdotes into my narrative. I fear I was rather short with him: I suggested […]

Christmas in the Holy Land 1985

I had nothing against the Franciscans before I got to Jerusalem, except maybe the notion that the Friars Minor weren’t the brightest or the best, that their education was non-existent, their spirituality a scandal and their poverty genteel but hardly shabby. You could say I had an open mind on the subject. And they did […]