Human Life Review Blog

Scroll through our blog to find great articles and commentary on current life issues.

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The Kidnapping of Emily Post

  Emily Post has been kidnapped!  In the years following the Roe v. Wade decision, women I had known for years would tell me, in a manner ranging from blithe to bureaucratic, that they had had an abortion, and then wait for me to deliver the expected: “Hey girl, i...
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A Downtown Debate

In 1990, I was invited to defend life in a Manhattan theater setting. Mounted by the Art & Work Ensemble in Syncronicity Space (located on Eleventh Street, just west of Sixth Avenue) there would be six one-act plays: three pro-choice, three pro-life. After the performance,...
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Rx for Limitless, International Emergency Support

  To compound a prescription for limitless, international emergency support, we need only extrapolate from an American anthropologist’s recent study of Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake. There can be no doubt that more natural disasters await us—whether earthquake or...
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Musings at a Japanese Barbershop

  Settling into a chair at a barbershop in Japan, one enters into the same kind of preliminary conversation one does in the United States (or, I imagine, anywhere else in the world). In my case, I usually tell the barber to cut it “very short, just shy of looking like I’m...
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Of Soap and Water

  I briefly wondered who had taught him the English words “soap” and “five.” He couldn’t have been more than ten years old, standing out on the sidewalk in 90-degree heat with his satchel full of soap and a smile that radiated to his eyes. “Soap? Five shekel.” Our guide...
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Our Joyless, Hopeless, World-weary Children

  Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, has joined 18-year-old Canadian Emma Lim and thousands of others in pledging not to have children until the government will ensure a safe future for them.  This is, of course, a glorious example of self-righteous...
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Welcoming the Unplanned Burden

  A few months ago, I stood in the back of church greeting worshipers after Mass. One woman—let’s call her Michelle—was squinting as if she intended to confront me, so I invited her to disclose her mind. She burst out, “How come you won’t preach about the movie Unplanned?...
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Our Bodies, Our Real Estate  

  Last January after Governor Cuomo signed the “reform” abortion bill allowing viable babies that survive abortion to be killed, he had the World Trade Center Freedom Tower lit up in pink, turning the skyscraper into a fey phallic symbol rising over our city to show how much...
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Is Protecting Human Life a Form of Hatred?

  Heather Mallick is a regular columnist for the Toronto Star. In a piece last spring titled “Will Alabama’s war on abortion come to Canada?” she encouraged women in Canada and the United States not to surrender their “right” to choose abortion, ignoring the salient point...
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A Celebration of Centenarians

Recently, the Italian Statistical Office (ISTAT) published data on the sizable number and relatively healthy status of centenarians living in Italy. With so much negative news concerning various aspects of world population—e.g., the decimation of the nuclear family, low birth...
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Remembering Faith

For those of us who really love summer (I actually thrive in heat and humidity!), the sunny yet cooler days at the end of August are bittersweet. This is especially true for me, as it is a reminder of loss. It has been eight years since my mother died, of cancer, on August 30,...
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Talking to Myself

I consider myself a level-headed person. I try not to judge people because I don’t think I have a right to judge. I am not the one at the gates of heaven deciding who gains entrance. But in this day and age, being nonjudgmental isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a daily struggle. Our...
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Hot and Cold: Pro-Life Marches in Japan and the United States

The Tokyo March for Life is held every year on “Marine Day,” the third Monday in July. A public holiday in Japan, Marine Day was inaugurated just before the beginning of the Pacific War to commemorate a 19th-century sea voyage by the Meiji Emperor; today the three-day weekend it...
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Letting Weeping Spend the Night

  It was the twenty-third of May, and I found myself face to face with a small, sticky-sweet-looking red velvet cake. I may have considered the purchase for a few moments; cake isn’t healthy after all. In the end, though, I brought it home, and we had it for dessert. My...
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Koinonia:  77 Years of Fertile Faithfulness

In the beginning was the idea of a community of Christian believers who would hold and share all goods in common. Biblically described in Acts 2:44-45, this community (in Greek, a koinonia and pronounced “coy-no-knee-ah”) harnessed both the fecund imagination and the fiery zeal...
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Heart Beats and Hoof Beats

One aspect to pro-choice thinking is that it’s not automatically about actual aborting but simply about the concept of choice, and, intellectually, that’s hard to argue with. Indeed, my own feeling is this: Do I want the practice of abortion to cease? Absolutely yes. Do I want...
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Against Single-Issue Voting

Some readers of the Human Life Review might not want to hear what I’m about to say. If you’re a single-issue voter, be able to defend your reasons for taking that approach. If you can’t, think harder about your political philosophy. First, though, acknowledge that a single-issue...
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“Meet Me at the Cheese:” The Sophomores Ponder the Sacramental Imagination

Time was growing short. Prom was past, finals and graduation would soon be upon us. But when the students had finished A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I threw at them a chapter from George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic. “Meet me at the Cheese,” I said to the girls, and this is...
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Not Laughing at Choice

It turned out to be open mic comedy night. I’d met a priest I know at a new microbrewery in his parish, and after an enjoyable time and enough beers he went home, while I finished my last one. The comics started after my friend (who had come dressed as a priest) had left, which...
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“Male and Female He Created Them”: Bold Winds of Pentecost Affirm Essential Truths of Human Sexuality

  One day after Pentecost Sunday, the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education released “Male and Female He Created Them, Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education.” From the very first sentence, it rightly describes “. . . an educational...
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Assisi, City of St. Francis and Savior of Jews During World War II

Assisi is a small hill town in central Italy surrounded by a very green countryside that has little industry except for olive cultivation and other farming activities. Known for centuries as a pilgrimage site, Assisi is full of convents, monasteries and churches, the most famous...
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Biology Bullies and the Destiny Blues

The “Shout Your Abortion” online media campaign, dedicated to “putting an end to shame” regarding abortion, is the latest expression of the belief that people not only have the right to have one but they also have the “right” to not feel bad about it. Notice I said “people,” not...
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Revisiting Parental Consent on Abortion

This year has seen a flurry of state-level legislative action on abortion, initiated by both pro-life and pro-abortion advocates. The catalyst for much of this action has been hope (or fear) that the U.S. Supreme Court might modify, if not reverse, the unrestricted abortion...
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Message to Youth

  On April 3, our local newspaper, The Waterloo Region Record, carried a front-page feature about the travelling Anne Frank Exhibit, an international project of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. The exhibit had recently arrived at Cameron Heights Collegiate high school in...
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Italy’s Ninth March for Life: A Spirited Affair!

They came in baby carriages, strollers, and wheel chairs, but mostly they came on foot to the rallying point at Piazza della Repubblica, one of Rome’s largest squares. Despite an overcast sky and unseasonably chilly weather, thousands—more than in prior years—gathered in the late...
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Kaleidoscope Hope – Orderliness Emerging from Chaos

  The charm of the toy kaleidoscope from ancient childhood was seeing order come out of chaos. Holding the cylinder to our eye, we would give it a twist; then free-floating pieces, falling randomly, would be reflected by a series of mirrors, transforming randomness into...
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Learning the Language

  Every Thursday morning I have a little cross-cultural experience. The rituals of greeting—taking off my shoes before entering a home, warm exchanges, inquiring about one another’s families—come fairly naturally to me. More difficult is a solicitous style of text messaging, in...
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Heaven on Earth

  A curious path now leads us away from hell and punishment. It skirts nimbly heaven and reward, then ends in the ephemeral cloud of heaven on earth. Its achievements are stupefying. They are nothing less than a repudiation of the afterlife’s heaven and hell plus the...
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Suicide Acceptance, Abortion Acceptance

  Abortion remains at the center of the pro-life movement, which began as a reaction against efforts to legalize the practice in one country after another across the Western world in the middle of the last century. Those efforts largely succeeded, in the United States and...
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Seeing the Seeing-Eye Dog

“Service animals” have been much in the news these past few years. During one recent summer, stories proliferated about problems on airplanes as passengers were bringing all manner of wildlife on board under the rubric of “emotional support.” Suddenly there were service pigs in...
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Rights Talk vs. Reality

  When I was a child, and the neighborhood pack of kids I ran with started squabbling about what to play or how to play it, sooner or later someone would end up yelling, “You can’t tell me what to do! It’s a free country!” Both the assertion and its justification are...
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Vaccinations, Life, and the Common Good

Most of us have a commonsensical grasp of the common good, which we can apply easily if we do not allow ourselves to be misled. Pro-life arguments can be strengthened by appeals to the common good. Pro-choice forces, however, often encourage us to misunderstand or neglect the...
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Carved in Stone

  Gutzon Borglum is not exactly a household name, though the quartet of faces he carved on Mt. Rushmore is familiar to virtually every American. His artistic achievement is probably the most spectacular of its kind ever produced. The lifelike busts of presidents Washington,...
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ERA and Abortion

  The just-adjourned session of the Virginia Legislature turned the Old Dominion into the latest battleground in an effort begun two years ago to force the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the federal Constitution. Although when proposed by Congress in 1972, ERA contained a...
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Selflessness and Sanctity: Three Modern Italian Women

The word selflessness—as in the gift of oneself to assure the welfare of another—is seldom heard in places like the United States, the United Nations, the secular world at large. Then there is Italy, where in recent decades three remarkable women chose life for the unborn...
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Bird Box and Our Inner Demons

  Despite mixed reviews, Bird Box is Netflix’s most popular film ever, with more than 45 million account views in its first week. Some critics claim that its popularity has been meme-driven. Its’ signature image, a blindfolded, hunted character—played by Sandra Bullock—who...
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Mercy Killing Five-Year-Olds

  She tried the “Where do you draw the line?” argument. A young Facebook friend reported that she’d just got home from a college class that had taken up abortion. Most students treated it as self-evidently good. If aborting an unborn child is all right, she asked them, what...
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Defenders of Life: Navigating Between Complacency and Despair

  Once I heard a futures trader explain the thought processes behind his job, and the way he explained it illuminated a mindset about earning a living alien to my own. Oh, I already knew the basics about his daily activity: buying and selling futures of commodities, with the...
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Abortion: How Can They See and Do It Anyway?

Seventeen students would be attending the March for Life, accompanied by three young Sisters of Charity, taking the all-night bus, and arriving in Washington in time to brush their teeth in the downstairs bathroom of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Spirits were high:...
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Shōwa That You Love Her

As with many other things—train travel, hot springs, and baseball, to name just a few—you’ve never seen Valentine’s Day done quite like it’s done in Japan. The stores are decked out with hearts and teddy bears and red and white ribbons galore, of course, but that’s just the...
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With New Eyes

I am rarely left speechless. Snappy retorts are part of my native language, and those few times when my mother’s instructions for what to do when I cannot say anything nice dominate my response, the conversation in question is likely a memorable one. Oddly enough, these...
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Re-civilizing Western Civilization

We are accustomed to hearing apocalyptic warnings about how the earth is facing mass destruction from epidemics, climate change, economic collapse, and other calamities that will make human life no longer possible. Whatever credibility these dark forecasts may have, as of yet...
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Why the American Pro-Life Movement Is International

  In one fell swoop on this date forty-six years ago, the abortion laws of the fifty states of this union were made to conform to a uniform standard: The procedure could not be prohibited before fetal viability. Over the years since then, medical and technological advances...
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Share the Credit for a Culture of Life

While visiting Texas recently I observed two rather different approaches to accommodating Latino migrants released from federal detention into the United States—and learned a lesson applicable to the pro-life movement. At one non-denominational church, Christians received a...
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Chemical Abortions Require a New Pro-Life Approach

  Last week, in an opinion piece for Lifesite News, Marie Claire Bissonnette (my daughter) wrote that the dramatic increase in early-gestation chemical abortions and the corresponding decrease in later-gestation surgical abortions, is going to necessitate a refocusing of the...
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Socrates and the Fractured University

  Socrates has proven to be an excellent critic of both modern media and modern modes of education. His great virtue was moral integrity. He lived and taught by a simple principle, namely, that a conviction should stem from knowledge. This, Socrates held firmly, was the key...
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Lessons from a Foster Family

  It was two in the morning when a little round face popped up from the mattress, looked right and left, and then asked, “Umma?” He was ten months old and had already mastered the intonation of a question. It was two in the morning when I patted my little son on the back and...
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“Shout Your Abortion”: The Coffee Table Book

Shout Your Abortion is a collection of photos, essays, and “creative work” born from the social media campaign of the same name, where women are encouraged to share their abortion experiences online for the purpose, says co-founder Lindy West,  of “de-stigmatization,...
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Mega Family Planning Conference Brings Thousands to Rwanda

  Kigali, capital of one of the poorest countries of Africa, recently hosted the fifth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP), sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health (which is based at the Johns Hopkins University...
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Big Data and the Human Person

  Since at least the time of Antonio Gramsci—the early 20th-century Italian communist who scrawled out a plan in his Prison Notebooks to destroy the bourgeois West from the inside out—leftists have devoted an enormous amount of time and energy to dismantling Western...
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Human Rights and Dignity—Not a Human Invention

  Last Sunday the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. Conjuring up images of thrones, royal robes, and scepters, it is a feast day that can strike secularized Western societies like ours as particularly alien. An Australian bishop recently expressed a...
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Never Men?

  As difficult as it may be for me to maintain a positive view of the future, I am obligated to crack an optimistic smile on occasion for the benefit of my two teenage sons. Yet as one embarks on his college career, and the other prepares to enter high school next year, I...
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Motherless America Radicalized—and Redeemed

  You may have seen this video of my daughter being roundhouse kicked during a pro-life demonstration. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7SqtIe5rZQ. The man in the video, Jordan Hunt, is the perfectly cast villain. He has stylized himself as punk-chic gender-bender, wearing...
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Abortion Free Verona: City Council Vote Creates a Maelstrom

  Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, made big news in early October when the city council and mayor of that northern Italian city voted 21 to 6 to make theirs “a city that favors life.” In addition, the city council members voted to make funds available from its budget to...
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An “Unwanted” Boy Helps Heal a Community

  Nine years ago, I buried a twenty-year-old man, Joseph. I recall Joseph in his casket, especially his facial features—emphatically unmistakably Native American. He looked every inch the Native Peruvian he was. We don’t know much about Joseph’s infancy except that he w...
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The Great News about Pregnancy Centers

  Chuck Donovan, President of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, reminded guests gathered at a special luncheon in Manhattan that last week marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the first pro-life pregnancy center in North America—Birthright in Toronto, Ontario....
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Democrats, You Need to Respond More Creatively to the Abortion Issue

  At the moment, it appears that Democrats need the votes of pro-life Americans more than the pro-life movement needs the Democratic Party, but that could change, and you hope it does if you’re concerned to keep the ship of state from foundering on the rocks of one-party...
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Now Is the Time to Pray

  Allow me to refocus the conversation a bit. After what our nation has gone through these past few weeks, we all could use a little break from politics. Let’s celebrate that we now have Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court, but let’s maintain a...
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Piety and Laughter—J.P. McFadden

  A small package was delivered to my office. It contained a copy of the Human Life Review and a note from its editor, James P. McFadden, inviting me, on the recommendation of an unnamed source, to write for his fledgling journal. I was honored by the invitation and soon...
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Unforgettable

In October, Christie’s will auction off a portrait of Edmond de Belamy, estimated to sell for between $8,000 and $11,500. Edmond de Who? If the name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s because Edmond de Belamy has never existed. Neither have the members of his extended “family,”...
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Archbishop Viganò Might Make a Good Pope

    After many years of sex scandals in the Catholic Church, someone finally blew the whistle in a way that could not be ignored. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a retired Vatican envoy to the United States, said on August 22nd that Pope Francis should resign because he...
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A Penitent Church Will Vanquish Abortion

  The scandals within the Catholic Church in the past months have had the effect of a neutron bomb. The buildings remain, but life within the Church has been irradiated. Priests continue to say Mass, and a remnant of the faithful still attend, but we are the walking dead....
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Can We Want a Baby Too Much?

Even good things—perhaps especially good things—can be desired too much, or in the wrong way, or potentially so. Take babies, for instance. To be specific, take Rose, the baby daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Devotees of the Little House on the Prairie series of frontier books...
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Sex Dolls and Pandemic Loneliness

  Casey Calvert is an adult-film actress in Los Angeles. She stars in pornographic movies which are shot at film studios, but half of her income, according to a recent BuzzFeed article, now comes from “personalized porn.” What is “personalized porn”? For anywhere from a...
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An Old Thomistic Joke

  Two followers of St. Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy walk into a bar to discuss the sad state of the world, trying to outdo one another in describing the greatest evils. They finally arrive at what seems like the worst person doing the most horrible deed, a Kermit Gosnell...
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Rediscovering that Rare, Beautiful Thing: The Summer Argument

It was the perfect mid-summer headline: “Terror as Amusement Park Ride Unable to Stop.” Our worst nightmare is not strange aliens, nuclear annihilation, the bizarre, or the fantastical. It is that we are doomed to live in the small space of our own vision; condemned to remain...
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Humanae Vitae At 50

On July 25, Catholics worldwide marked the fiftieth anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae vitae (Of Human Life). Written in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, Humanae vitae was intended to consider whether the “Pill”—a newly developed contraceptive that suppressed...
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Shedding Light on Depression’s Darkness

On June 9th, at the end of the week in which both designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain died by suicide, I wrote a Facebook post: It’s been an emotionally wrenching week in many ways. As a woman who struggles with anxiety, phobias, and once (blessedly only once...
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“Please Stop, before It’s Too Late.”

  My community is among those in Appalachia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania hit hard by opioid abuse. The emergency medical technicians tell me they get from one to three overdose calls daily. Rarely does a month go by without a funeral for some young or middle-aged man, or...
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Pro-life Is All In

Several years ago, I used to spend a couple of hours on Friday afternoons praying outside the main Planned Parenthood facility in Madison, Wisconsin. There were usually just two or three of us on the sidewalk: myself, and one or two counselors trained to approach at-risk women as...
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Italy’s New Pro-life Minister for Families Hits the Ground Running!

After much travail a new coalition government in Italy was sworn in on June 1st. The two new parties that garnered the most votes will rule in a coalition that also includes a few nonparty members. The new Prime Minister is Giuseppe Conte, a law professor from the University of...
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empty mirror

The Unfit Mother

Questioning the pro-choice orthodoxy unleashes howls of empty rhetoric, because indoctrinated people cannot listen anymore. “Don’t tell me what your religion demands I do with my life!” “You and your ilk . . .” (My ilk?) “Abortion does not murder women’s souls!” Yes, it does....
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Pro-Choicers Erase the Child

  Most editors would have let it go. The young writer had described a law “allowing abortion up to 12 weeks.” She believed strongly in the right to life, but she was writing with journalistic efficiency, and her editors evaluated her work by a readability score. She used the...
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The Impossible Expectations Placed on Parents

  Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Hate Them is a no-nonsense chapter title from Jordan Peterson’s recent bestseller, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. And it exemplifies the sort of clear-eyed truth-telling that has earned Peterson the reputation...
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Pearl Joy Brown (July 27, 2012-March 29, 2018)

. . . the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.—Mt 13:45-46 Misery loves company. A cynic might say that’s why I became obsessed with Eric Brown’s social...
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The Pro-Life Sincerity—and Irony—of Pope Francis

  Pope Francis perhaps puzzles prolifers. For decades, the Catholic Church supported the pro-life movement both institutionally and philosophically. Francis, however, adopted a critical posture, complaining of Catholics’ “obsession” with abortion. Prolifers have often...
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Welcome Eurobabies!

Eurostat, the European statistical office, recently released data showing that in 2016 there were 5,148,162 babies born in the European Union, pushing the fertility rate up slightly for the first time in several years. This was good news for an area of the world better known for...
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Special Needs, Hidden Treasures

  I mark my calendar a year in advance for the annual Sisters of Life Gala in New York City. If you have been fortunate enough to attend, you understand why. If you haven’t had the opportunity, I encourage you to get there at least once in your life. It’s a magical evening...
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Saint Mugg in a Nutshell

  One fine day in October of 1978 I boarded a train that would take me from Waterloo, Ontario, to Toronto. A kind looking lady shared my compartment. Initiating conversation, she told me about her enthusiasm for the writings of Malcolm Muggeridge, an Englishman regarded by...
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We Must Rebrand Ourselves as Anti-Abortion

  From the beginning, many in the pro-life movement have been restrained, even apologetic in their presentation of abortion to the public. Many still recoil at the idea of showing pictures of the victims, because, they say, it is too aggressive. But the self-identification...
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“You Are Worthy”

  Once upon a time, a fairy princess waited for her prince to save her: from captivity, a wicked stepmother, maybe even an annoying dwarf sneezing on her. No matter what, the lovely young woman needed a man to help her out of a jam. Fast forward to today, where the “fairer...
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Thinking Through Kevin Williamson’s Abortion Remark

  An irony of the recent contretemps over Kevin Williamson is that a writer who delivers such a high ratio of originality to conventional wisdom would become the subject of so much repetition of ideological boilerplate. Four years ago, Williamson wrote in a Twitter exchange...
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Time Travel and Battling Evil

  Lately my grandson’s interest in the Marvel and DC comics world of superheroes has been turning his mind to the conundrums of time travel and the intricacies of rewriting the past. My own pop-culture exposure to time-travel plotlines dates from the Back to the Future...
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Don’t Think We’re in Glenbrook Anymore …

ABC’s award-winning television show Life Goes On, which ran from 1989 to 1993, was built around a family whose eldest son, Corky, had Down syndrome. The show, set in the Chicago suburb of Glenbrook, won accolades for giving many Americans their first real insight into the...
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Crisis Pregnancy Centers v. Abortion Clinics

Crisis Pregnancy Centers v. Abortion Clinics Victoria Garaitonandia Gisondi Megan Burbank, who describes herself as a “repro health” reporter, recently wrote an edgy little piece in the Portland Mercury in which she calls an unborn child “a clump of pulsing organic matter” and...
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Conor Lamb’s Election Is Not Good News for Life

  By a quirk of gerrymandering, we live in Pennsylvania’s eighteenth congressional district and got to vote in the special election to fill former Congressman Tim Murphy’s seat. Murphy resigned after being exposed for asking his mistress to abort their child, despite his...
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Forty Years of Abortion in Italy

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the legalization of abortion in Italy—what has transpired on that front in the past four decades? For answers one turns to the mandatory annual report that Italy’s Minister of Health sends to Parliament. Issued in late December, the 2017...
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Abortion is Rumpelstiltskin

The Brothers Grimm were the first to tell the dark tale of Rumpelstiltskin. And although it was certainly not their intention, the fairy tale eerily parallels so many women’s experience of abortion … Rumpelstiltskin is the story of a poor miller’s daughter, locked up in a tower...
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Abraham’s Sacrifice Of Fatherhood

The Old Testament’s story of Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac (Gen. 22: 1-18) is in many ways unintelligible to modern man. How could God command a father to kill his son? How could God even desire human sacrifice? And how could we believe in such a God? Read against...
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Bring Back the Ten Commandments!

  In the upstate New York community of Kingston, a synagogue that had fallen into disuse several years ago was sold and converted into a deluxe residence, housing apartments with splendid gardens and scenic views of the Hudson River. Most of the exterior and interior...
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