Essays


  • George Boole, the Holy Trinity, and the Birth of the Computer

    George Boole, the Holy Trinity, and the Birth of the Computer

    Since it first emerged in the early days of Christianity, the concept of the Holy Trinity— Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three components of a single God-head— has been a head-scratcher for non-Christians and an unending source of conflict within the Church. The concept was already rattling around among the earliest Church Fathers in…

  • Donald Trump, Theologian

    Donald Trump, Theologian

    Recently, James Carroll wrote a sensitive piece in the New Yorker (“The Radical Meaning of Pope Francis’s Visit to Juarez”) about the testy exchange between Pope Francis and Donald Trump regarding immigration. Midway through the brief article and on his way to making the point that the pope held the ethical high ground in the debate,…

  • The Persistence of Myth

    The Persistence of Myth

    While working on a chapter on Jerusalem during the British Mandate (1917-1948) I ran into one of the private micro-dramas I assume most writers run into and that I learned long ago nobody else is really interested in. But as I thought about it more, there seemed to be a lesson for me that I…

  • Encountering Bible and Sword by Barbara Tuchman

    Encountering Bible and Sword by Barbara Tuchman

    Last weekend I faced a solitary thousand-mile roundtrip drive from the Bay Area to San Diego down the largely featureless California Central Valley, a chore that became a delight as I spent the time listening to a book I’d never read, Bible and Sword, by a writer I’ve long admired, Barbara Tuchman.

  • Reading Fields of Blood while watching Charlie Hebdo

    Reading Fields of Blood while watching Charlie Hebdo

    I know the sorrow I feel for those murdered in Paris – the creative artists, their colleagues and those killed trying to protect them – is shared by a massive international host who revere the norms of civil society and are shocked by the barbarity of the assailants. The attacks were nothing if not an…