First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Articles from No. 241, March

A Double Life
A Double Life Byrd BY KERRY MCCARTHY OXFORD, 304 PAGES, $39.95Judging by the tracks programmed by my local classical music radio station, no composer of merit existed before the Baroque period. DJs with soothing voices regularly serve up Vivaldi, Handel,...
Against Heterosexuality
lasdair Mac-Intyre once quipped that "facts, like .telescopes and wigs for gentlemen, were a seventeenth-century invention." Something similar can be said about sexual orientation: Heterosexuals, like typewriters and urinals (also, obviously, for gentlemen),...
Conquering the World
A most serious temptation, one that impedes our contact with the Lord, is defeatism." So observed then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in a talk he gave to priests, now part of a collection, Open Mind, Faithful Heart. I'm a magazine editor and culture warrior,...
Divine Perfection
Divine Perfection The God of the Gospel: Robert Jenson's Trinitarian Theology BY SCOTT R. SWAIN IVP ACADEMIC, 258 PAGES, $24How can we know if God exists? Is the existence of God philosophically demonstrable, and if not, is the act of faith a fundamentally...
Dogma and Beauty
Dogma and Beauty The Fine Delight: Postconciliar Catholic Literature BY NICHOLAS RIPATRAZONE WIPF & STOCK, 202 PAGES, $23Shortly after Robert Lowell's conversion to Catholicism in 1941, he announced to his horrified wife, Jean Stafford, a lapsed...
Escaping the Exemptions Ghetto
As the cases challenging the Health and Human Services mandate make their way through the courts, the main claim is that those who object to the mandate on the basis of religious conscience should be exempted from the law's requirement of providing objectionable...
Food and Class
Jesse Straight appreciates my analysis of elite self-regard and the ways the upper crust is reinterpreting morality to serve itself. But he runs the Whiffletree Farm in Warrenton, Virginia, where he raises organic free-range pigs, cattle, and chickens....
God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet
God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet BY NATHAN SCHNEIDER UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, 272 PAGES, $34.95In his historical tour of the proofs for and against God's existence, Nathan Schneider, a journalist and activist whose...
Gourmet Self-Creation
Our New Year is arbitrary. For Jews the year begins on the first day of the month of Tishrei on the Jewish lunar calendar. For the Chinese it's a midwinter date, also determined by a lunar calendar. Ours is based on the Gregorian calendar. But we can't...
Incurious Dawkins
Incurious Dawkins An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist BY RICHARD DAWKINS ECCO, 320 PAGES, $27.99Richard Dawkins' An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist invites comparisons with C. S. Lewis' Surprised by Joy. Both are memoirs...
Inequality and Agency
What is inequality? It's the unbalanced distribution of power and control over wealth and innovation, government and culture, society and neighborhoods-over our lives. That distribution is changing in our society. We can all feel it. At this point the...
Keeping Faith in Provo
Oh say, what is truth? 'Tis the fairest gem / That the riches of worlds can produce, / And priceless the value of truth will be when / The proud monarch's costliest diadem / Is counted but dross and refuse." Hearing these words, sung with devotion and...
Letters
DISCRIMINATIONEven though we disagree on gay marriage and on gay rights more generally, I admire R. R. Reno's honesty and integrity in his writing about these issues, and I read what he says with care and appreciation. However, I was surprised by his...
Nabokov's Supernatural Secret
In 2009, the remains of Vladimir Nabokov's unfinished last novel, The Original of Laura, were published, more than three decades after the dying author had asked his son Dmitri to destroy them. In 2012, Nabokov's first large literary work, a play entitled...
Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint BY NADIA BOLZ-WEBER JERICHO BOOKS, 200 PAGES, $22Nadia Bolz-Weber is a hip, tattoo-clad, foul-mouthed, formerly alcoholic pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America who heads a start-up...
Pius XII
Pius XII has become the papal piñata. In his influential 1963 play The Deputy, Rolf Hochhuth depicted him as a cold, cautious, aloof churchman unwilling to speak out against Nazi crimes. Some have risen to defend his reputation, documenting his efforts...
Roland on Consciousness
A few months ago, the morning before my eldest brother was to return home to Norway after a long visit, I dreamed that I had just awakened in the early light of dawn to find my dog Roland sitting at the end of my bed, a bar of softly glaucous shadow-cast...
The Decline and Rise of Secular Judaism
in his 1782 book Letters from an American Farmer, John de Crèvecoeur asked the most famous and important question in American history: "What then is the American, this new man?" The authentic American leaves behind him "all his ancient prejudices and...
The Future of Religious Freedom: Global Challenges
The Future of Religious Freedom: Global Challenges EDITED BY ALLEN D. HERTZKE OXFORD, 386 PAGES, $29.95In matters of religious freedom, we seem to be living in the best and the worst of times. The best, because an abstract, propositional assent to religious...
The Huguenots
The Huguenots BY GEOFFREY TREASURE YALE, 488 PAGES, $3 5In many ways, France's first Protestants, the Huguenots, were "more puritan than the (English) Puritans" in both doctrine and morals. Although they were never able to make France a Calvinist country...
This Time Will Not Be the Same
God willing, the new evangelization will happen, but let us not imagine that this time will be like the first time. The old evangelization proclaimed the Good News among pagan, preChristian peoples to whom it came as something new. Nothing like that...
While We're at It
* "Imagine Living in a Socialist USA" demands the cover of the latest issue of the Indypendent, a lefty paper published in Brooklyn, and besides the articles on that subject and transgender rock bands is one on the paper's "all-time NFL non-conformist...
Who's Right?
Who's Right? The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left BY YUVAL LEVIN BASIC, 296 PAGES, $27.99Edmund Burke, a native Dubliner from a religiously mixed marriage, wanted to become a public intellectual, and as part of...
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