When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope, I was deeply disappointed. His reputation as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s “watchdog” agency, preceded him, and he received an icy reception in the press. But over time I came to respect this complicated and humble man whose views transcended American political categories.
In a pair of black jeans, work boots and a button-down flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up, Michael Baxter is right at home. Although for the casual observer it might be difficult to tell exactly where that home is.
Long after I could read on my own, my mother still read aloud to me. My siblings teased me about it, but I was almost in junior high before I stopped climbing the steep stairs to my parents’ attic bedroom every night for an hour of stories about the Holocaust. I would find my mother in a long floral nightgown, her glasses off. She’d have a copy of _Ms._, _The New Yorker_ or _National Review_ pressed close to her face.