First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Articles from No. 198, December

A Demand for Freedom
It's a nudge here and a shove there. A push from one side and a kick from another. Little things, for the most part, and surprisingly often the perpetrators retreat when directly challenged, but only to watch someone else step in to take their place....
Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk about Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning
BEING CATHOLIC NOW: PROMINENT AMERICANS TALK ABOUT CHANGE IN THE CHURCH AND THE QUEST FOR MEANING by Kerry Kennedy Canon Press, 247 pages, $24.95What does it mean to be Catholic today? Being Catholic Now offers an assortment of answers. It juxtaposes...
Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible
BODY, SOUL, AND HUMAN LIFE: THE NATURE OF HUMANITY IN THE BIBLE by Joel B. Green Baker, 240 pages, $19.99 paperAlthough the dust has not yet setded from the Darwinian revolution, new advances in the neurosciences continue to challenge common understandings...
Death for Fun and Profit
Death for Fun and Profit THE ORIGINAL OF LAURA (DYING Is FUN) by VLADIMIR NABOKOV Alfred A Knopf, 278pp., $35SOMEWHERE IN HENRY James' House of Fiction there is a shrine for manuscript rescuers. The anony- mous hand, for example, that hurled the smouldering...
Freedom for Faith, Freedom for All
Freedom for Faith, Freedom for all IN DEFENSE OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY BY DAVID NOVAK ISI, 250 pages, $18William James once quipped that "in this age of toleration," no one "will ever try actively to interfere with our religious faith, provided we enjoy...
He Would Have You Fight
On October 22, at the Union League Club in New York, Human Life Review hosted its annual dinner-the dinner at which it gives its Great Defender of Life awards. This year's awards went, rigrrtly, to Human Life Review's own senior writers: Ellen Wilson...
How Pedophilia Lost Its Cool
The reason that the monstrous crime of pedophilia matters is simple: In an increasingly secular age, it is one of the few taboos about which people on both sides of the religious divide can agree. It remains a marker of right and wrong in a world where...
In America's Image
In America's Image THE NEW SHAPE OF WORLD CHRISTIANITY: How AMERICAN EXPERIENCE REFLECTS GLOBAL FATTH by MARK NOLL InterVarsity, 21 2 pages, $25EIGHT YEARS AGO, Diana Eck published a much talked about book called A New Religious America, in which she...
In between the Angels and the Apes
In Between the Angels and the Apes NEITHER BEAST NOR GOD: THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON by GILBERT MEILAENDER Encounter, 180 pages, $21.95SOME MONTHS AGO, the ethics committee on which I sit at the Empire State Stem Cell Board took up a discussion...
Justifying Paul
Justifying Paul JUSTIFICATION: GOD'S PLAN AND PAUL'S VISION by N.T. WRIGHT InterVarsity, 268pp., $25NEARLY FIVE HUNDRED years after the Reformation, debate over the doctrine of justification continues to divide Christians. What is interesting about the...
Letters
Cranky and Getting CrankierIn his June/July Public Square column, Joseph Bottum claims that the three infallible signs of cranks are that they have a theory about the Jews, a theory about money, and a theory about Shakespeare's plays.This is a gross...
Lives and Legacies
Biography, Virginia Woolf once observed, is the search for the fertile fact. The four best biographies of 2009 each approach doorstop size-which suggests that, for diese authors, there's a lot of fertility in the facts. They aren't stocking stuffers,...
Pulling the Plug on the Conscience Clause
Over the past fifty years, the purposes and practices of medicine have changed radically. Where medical ethics was once Me-affirrning, today's treatments and medical procedures increasingly involve the legal taking of human life. The litany is familiar:...
Substrate
SUBSTRATE by Jim Powell Pantheon, 138 pages, $26It seems almost unfair to point out classicist Jim Powell's MacArthur Fellowship, since it is so commonly called a "genius" grant, a term that opens its recipients to ridicule. But in this case, an exception...
The Book of All Saints
THE BOOK OF ALL SAINTS by Adrienne von Speyr edited by Hans Urs von Balthasar Ignatius, 429 pages, $24.95For forty years, this book and eleven companion volumes have been circulating privately among the friends of the late Hans Urs von Balthasar. Representing...
The Great Commission: Models of Evangelization in American Catholicism
THE GREAT COMMISSION: MODELS OF EVANGELIZATION IN AMERICAN CATHOLICISM by Timothy E. Byerley Paulist, 161 pages, $18.95 paperTaking its structure from Avery Dulles' seminal Models of the Church, Byerley's The Great Commission sets forth six Scripture-based...
The Nature of Desire
This is the monstrosity in love, lady," Troilus tells Cressida in Shakespeare's play, "that the will is infinite and the execution confined, that the desire is boundless and the act a slave to limit." Human desire, in other words, is doubly infinite:...
The Needle's Eye: Why America's Economic Recovery Needs the Global South
The destinies of the aging but affluent people of the West and the young but impoverished people of the Global South are joined- and joined by a very simple economic fact: The old tend to have savings, while the young tend to have energy. To fund their...
The Theology of Abraham Joshua Heschel
Judaism is not a doctrine but a life- the continuation of the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Or so Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) often said. To learn Jewish theology, then, is to relive the history of God's encounter with the Jewish people,...
The Wine of Certitude: A Literary Biography of Ronald Knox
BRIEFLY NOTED THE WINE OF CERTITUDE: A LITERARY BIOGRAPHY OF RONALD KNOX by David Rooney Ignatius, 412pages, $17.95 paperAny man who elicited the veneration of Evelyn Waugh and could do the Times crossword in his head without benefit of pencil deserves...
Thrillers and Throwbacks
Few of the current trends in crime- and mystery-fiction are salutary ones. The ascendancy of the thriller has tipped the balance toward violence and hyped-up suspense-and away from intellectual challenge and the interplay of characters. Flirtations with...
To the Jew First: The Case for Jewish Evangelism in Scripture and History
TO THE JEW FIRST: THE CASE FOR JEWISH EVANGELISM IN SCRIPTURE AND HISTORY edited by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser Kregel, 352 pages, $16.99 paperTo the Jew First issues a powerful and biblically convincing wake-up call to a Church that has, in large...
Understanding the Difference
You've heard of him, of course: Francis Cardinal George, the archbishop of Chicago, current president of the U.S. Bishops' Conference, and the defacto inteuectual dean of the American episcopate. Perhaps what's most interesting about bis new book- The...
While We're at It
* This is from the Challenges of Enculturation Department. According to a sprawling article in the New York Times' Sunday magazine, the global Sesame Street franchise is facing some trouble in the Holy Land. The pluralistic tranquility of the world depicted...
Whose Modernity? Which Revolution?
Whose Modernity? Which Revolution? THE MODERN PHILOSOPHICAL REVOLUTION: THE LUMINOSITY OF EXISTENCE by DAVID WALSH Cambridge, 518 pages, $29.99CHARLES TAYLOR ONCE lamented that, on the topic of modernity, scholars seem divided into two camps: knockers...
Why Then Is Still Now
In the 2008 election, 78 percent of American Jews supported Barack Obama, voting neither their pocketbooks ("Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans," as Milton Himmelfarb's old joke ran) nor their foreign-policy preferences, given that...
Wondrous and Silly
On a bright day in early autumn, I found myself sitting on the floor of my favorite bookstore with a pile of picture books two feet tall. The kids (and their parents) gave me several curious glances, but I was content. Anyone who thinks there are few...
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