Monthly Archives: November 2017

Old Boys, New Boy, Old Boy 1961-2008

I have spent most of my adult life on the faculty of New York University, a sprawling urban corporation that provokes both awe and disdain, occasionally admiration, sometimes rage and almost never love. Mater, si, Alma, no. I was, and still am, I suppose, what is called a professor, and what I professed was some […]

Altar Boy Credits — A Pelagian Pipedream? 1937-2010

I was an altar boy, an All-Star, All-Pro altar boy. Smartly togged out in cassock, surplice, collar and ribbon-bow tie, I paid my dues to the Lord in the sanctuary of the Our Lady of the Assumption church. I served crack of dawn 7 weekday Masses, and on Sunday I was assigned everything thing from […]

Last Dance: The Disco Year 1979

Most of my Middle Eastern colleagues, whose confidence had been sapped by the gospel of doubt broadcast in Edward Said’s Orientalism, no longer believed they had the skill or the right to explain what Islam is all about. But I thought I did —what did a Christian Palestinian expert on Comparative Literature know about it […]

A Dig at Raqqa 1979

Father Flanagan, the cleric portrayed by Spencer Tracy in “Boystown,” reportedly said that there was no such thing as a bad boy. I don’t know about boys, even though I’m still myself one even at this advanced age, but I know a lot about ideas since I’ve had a few, and I can attest that […]

A Day in the Country 1956

Part of every Jesuit’s training was teaching for two or three years in one of the many high schools run by the Society of Jesus. In the New York Province, to which I then belonged, the schools were all conveniently located in the New York metropolitan area, a happy prospect for me after four years […]