Won’t Grow Up

[Dallas Morning News, December 22, 2004] In this corner, ladies and gentlemen, we have Leonardo DiCaprio, adorable star of “Titanic,” “Catch Me If You Can,” and now, “The Aviator.” In the other, we have - oh, pick a name. Clark Gable, Cary Grant, even Jimmy Stewart, for cryin' out loud. Notice any difference?

Is This Shark Gay?

[Beliefnet, December 13, 2004] In this tense post-election climate there's a tendency to look for suspicious messages in everything but the stickers on grocery-store produce. That's the only way I can explain a writing assignment that included these instructions: “I need you to go to a movie and find out whether the shark is gay.” Now, sharks have done some memorable things in American movies, but this would be a first. Granted, they're usually engaged in disrupting social norms, but not in the size-twelve-high-heels way.

Goin’ to Take a Hyphenated Journey

[National Review Online, June 1, 2004] As the hubby and I approach our 30th anniversary, our youngest is approaching his wedding day. Stephen’s older brother David and sister Megan preceded him into wedded bliss, and have already built up our stock of grandchildren to the number of five; no doubt these newest newlyweds will supplement in time. But none of our grandchildren will bear our name. Like David and Megan before him, Steve will take this opportunity to change his last name. So long, hyphen-Green.

Abu Ghraib and Pitesti

[Dallas Morning News, May 26, 2004] While most of the world is reeling at the ugliness perpetrated by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib, I've had the feeling I've seen it all before. Rather, I've heard it, from a white-haired Romanian priest who suffered in the dread Pitesti prison outside Bucharest. Fr. George Calciu is now pastor of a small white-clapboard church in northern Virginia, and my spiritual father.

Phyllis Schlafly

[The American Conservative, April 21, 2003] Feminist Fantasies, by Phyllis Schlafly, Spence Publishing, 262 pages Not every fifty-something mother of six decides to go to law school; not every one who does graduates near the top of her class. Not every woman juggles these high-octane pursuits with a syndicated column and an uphill battle against the Equal Rights Amendment. But then again, not every woman is Phyllis Schlafly. You can hear three decades of bruised feminists breathing “Amen.”

Why They Hated Pinocchio

[Touchstone, April 2003] Why They Hated “Pinocchio” I am the sole member of a very tiny club: as far as I can tell, I am the only reviewer in America who liked Roberto Benigno’s production of “Pinocchio.” I had sat all alone in a theater, thoroughly charmed by the production, the costumes, cinematography, and performances. And I wondered why I was alone. Later I checked a website that catalogues film reviews and did a double take. This site gives films a percentage score based on the number of positive reviews; the stylish film “The Hours,” for example, was enjoying an 88% rating. The site’s editors had not found a single review of “Pinocchio” they could classify as positive. “Pinocchio” scored a zero.

About Face, Christian Soldiers

[Unpublished, March 2003] I subscribe to a newsweekly magazine. One week the cover story is about Buddhists. I read the article. It is about spirituality. Another week the cover story is about students of the Kaballah. I read the article. It is about spirituality. Another week the cover story is about Christians. I read the article. It is about politics.

The Oneida Experiment

[Touchstone, November 2002 — expanded version of “Free Love Didn’t Come Cheap”] In the middle of the room there was a woodburning stove. The small iron door was open on this chilly day, and the red flames could be seen leaping within as if in time to music. For there was music, too, a marching song, and the little girls who circled the stove marched around it in time. The girls were not happy. Each girl was holding in her arms her favorite doll. These were pretty dolls with painted faces, who usually wore fancy clothes reflecting current fashion. But today the clothes had been left in a pile, and the wax figurines were exposed, hard and bare. One by one, each girl marched up to the open door of the stove. One by one, each girl threw her doll into the “angry-looking flames.”

Let’s Have More Teen Pregnancy

[National Review Online, September 20, 2002] Let’s Have More Teen Pregnancy True Love Waits. Wait Training. Worth Waiting For. The slogans of teen abstinence programs reveal a basic fact of human nature: teens, sex, and waiting aren’t a natural combination. Over the last fifty years the wait has gotten longer. In 1950, the average first-time bride was just over 20; in 1998 she was five years older, and her husband was pushing 27. If that June groom had launched into puberty at 12, he’d been waiting more than half his life. If he *had* been waiting, that is.

The Case Against “Youth-anasia”

Beliefnet, February 15, 2002] Greta Van Susteren took a look in the mirror not long ago and didn't like what she saw. “God, how did I get to be 47?” she says she thought. So she had cosmetic surgery to tighten up the skin around her eyes. “I just did it on a whim,” she told People magazine. Leave aside the question of whether someone who whimsically has her face permanently altered can be relied on for more sober judgment about, say, Al Qaeda. The bottom line is that the deed seemed so out of character. Greta's was one of the few really authentic female faces on television. Her face was interesting because it was unattractive, and attractive because it was so interesting. It was a startlingly real face in the world of artifice, a face that could attract and pull you in.