First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Articles from No. 225, August/September

Bending the Knee
His work as a community organizer in poor neighborhoods impressed on David Blankenhorn a simple fact: Children flourish when parented by their biological mothers and fathers. Traditional marriage turns out to be best for kids, a truth that has been amply...
Boys Wanna Fight
Boys Wanna Fight A History of Violence: from the End of the Middle Ages to the Present BY ROBERT MUCHEMBLED POLITY, 388 PAGES, $29.95To those used to worrying about violence, the point of departure for Robert Muchembled's book may come as a shock: Interpersonal...
Conscience and Coercion
In the nineteenth century, in encyclicals from Gregory XVI's Miran Vos in 1832 to Leo XIIFs Libertas in 1888, the Catholic Church taught that the state should not only recognize Catholic Christianity as the true religion, but should use its coercive...
Cordially, Richard John Neuhaus
September 2004: Richard John Neuhaus was feeling tired and a little glum. This he had not expected, as he observed in a meditative letter to his longtime friend Robert Louis Wilken: "I am not at all, or not usually, dissatisfied with my life and work....
Defending Religious Liberty
Notre Dame teaches physics and philosophy, and so does the University of Chicago. Both raise money, field sports teams, and maintain their buildings. Aside from a few peripheral activities, how do they differ? Not much. So the Obama White House has concluded...
Dynamic Transcendentals: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty from a Thomistic Perspective
Dynamic Transcendentals: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty from a Thomistic Perspective CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Z59 PAGES, $64.95In his 1960 Elements of Christian Philosophy, Etienne Gilson called beauty the "forgotten transcendental." The appellation...
Evil within and Without
Evil Within and Without Demonic Desires: "Yetzer Hará' and the Problem of Evil in Late Antiquity BY ISHAY ROSEN-ZVI UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, 264 PAGES, $69.95According to the standard view among Jewish thinkers and Christian scholars of Jewish texts,...
Freedom by Association
In New York City, about one hundred and fifty churches and religious groups - many of them serving poor and immigrant congregations - are threatened with eviction from public buildings where other community groups are permitted to rent space because...
Home Not Alone
Home Not Alone by Naomi Shaefer Riley The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition BY KATHERINE S. NEWMAN BEACON, 288 PAGES, $25-95Teenagers are losing interest in cars. According to the New York Times,...
Letters
CHRISTIAN SOCIETIES"In the long run Christians by culture could hardly exist without some communities of actual believers," notes Andrea M. Maccarini in his review of Marcello Pera's indispensable Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians: The Religious...
Paradoxical Francis
Paradoxical Francis Francis of Assisi: A New Biography BY AUGUSTINE THOMPSON, O.P. CORNELL, 312. PAGES, $2.9.95One of the most remarkable legends in the life of St. Francis of Assisi - and one of the most outrageously incredible too - is that of the...
Public Life without Political Theory
Patrick Deneen's stimulating paper provides both a diagnosis of liberalism's decline and a prediction of what will rise from its ashes. After his initial descriptive analysis, a tone of lament begins to be heard. He bemoans the wreckage liberalism has...
Serving Our Hearth Gods
Having conquered cigarettes, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has launched a campaign against sugary drinks. The media has made fun of his proposed ban on large soft drinks, mocking his neo-Puritanism. Many of my friends are inclined to shake their...
Soulful Houellebecq
Soulful Houellebecq The Map and the Territory BY MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ, TRANSLATED BY GAVIN BOWD KNOPF, ¿69 PAGES, $z6-95Man is a peculiar animal, for whom the world is not enough. The French novelist Michel Houellebecq is infamous for his sex scenes, and...
The Art of Liberty
Patrick Deneen has written a thoughtful and provocative critique of the "deeper anthropological assumptions" underlying philosophical liberalism - namely, its anthropological individualism and its belief in the human separation from and opposition to...
The Back Page
THROUGH A GLOSS, DARKLYIn French and English, the Latin verb traducere - "to transfer," "to convert," "to lead across," but also "to expose to shame," "to defame," "to disgrace in public" - diverged into two very different derivatives, each reflecting...
The Flimflam Theater
When I was a boy I had a friend named Dennis McCannWho was totally and utterly and maniacally in love withSurfing. He talked about nothing else and he said he didNothing else on the weekends and he had ten surfboardsOf various sizes in his garage, most...
The Holy Spirit Did Preside
A newly married layman and graduate student, I found myself in Rome in 1963 covering the second session of the Second Vatican Council, working as a freelance reporter for the National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal, and for any other publications that...
Theology's Proper Humility
Theology claims to be the queen of the sciences, the master discipline that provides the deepest and most penetrating answers to our most important questions. And yet it does not reach up to the true, the good, and the beautiful, but instead attends...
Unsustainable Liberalism
For most people of the West, the idea of a time and way of life after liberalism is as plausible as the idea of living on Mars. Yet liberalism is a bold political and social experiment that is far from certain to succeed. Its very apparent strengths...
While We're at It
* "Over the years, I saw a conversion in Chuck to elements of natural law theory," writes Fr. Thomas Guarino of our friend Chuck Colson, who died in April and is much missed.At one Evangelicals and Catholics Together meeting, writes Tom, the Catholic...
Yeshiva Lessons
When the prophet Isaiah spoke to the Jewish people and said, "You yourselves shall be named priests of the Lord, ministers of our God shall you be called," he was addressing all of God's people. So when the Church proclaims this same Word of God in the...
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