First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Articles from No. 222, April

Against Erotic Entitlements
There is a general form of reasoning to which I shall give the name argumentum ad consummationem, which runs as follows. Major premise: Sexual attraction and love are determinants of human happiness and should be consummated where sincerely felt. Minor...
America's Smiling God
America's Smiling God by Peter L. Berger When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God BY T. M. LUHRMANN KNOPF, 464 PAGES, $28.95The methods of anthropology were developed in the early years of the discipline, when...
Bodily Revulsions
Bodily Revulsions by Ian Marcus Corbin The Meaning of Disgust BY COLIN MCGINN OXFORD, 264 PAGES, $35The eminent philosopher Colin McGinn has written twenty-five or so sharp, illuminating pages on the topic of disgust. Unfortunately, he has scattered...
Bridging the Tiber
Unsurprisingly, when in November 2009 the Holy See announced the establishment of personal Ordinariates (similar to dioceses) for those Anglicans and Episcopalians entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, the standard journalistic account...
Contraceptive Controversy
The Obama administration was surprised by the degree and intensity of resistance to the Health and Human Services regulations that refused to exempt all religious organizations from the general requirement to buy insurance policies that provide contraceptive...
Conversation of Faith and Reason: Modern Catholic Thought from Hermes to Benedict XVI
Conversation of Faith and Reason: Modern Catholic Thought from Hermes to Benedict XVI BY AIDAN NICHOLS, O.P. LITURGY TRAINING PUBLICATIONS, 22.2. PAGES, $13Since the apostolic age, the question of the relation of faith and reason has exercised many talented...
Do Not Rashly Tear Asunder
The struggle for the soul of the United Methodist Church has reached a decisive point. At every quadrennial national meeting since 1976, the issue of the ordination of partners in same-sex unions has been raised and defeated. Until now my church has...
Evolution and Islam
Professor Steve Jones is having trouble with students cutting class. This isn't something stellar professors like Jones, who is well known in Great Britain for his popular science books and television appearances, are used to. His students aren't skipping...
Graveside Praise
Graveside Praise by Russell E. Saltzman Preaching Death: The Transformation of Christian Funeral Sermons BY LUCY BREGMAN BAYLOR, 2.63 PAGES, $24.95If thirty years ago my seminary classmates and I had any notion of how to talk about death, we learned...
Letters
DISORDER & DISEASEAs Stanton Jones shows ("Same-Sex Science," February), the position that "gay is good" is a philosophical, not scientific, conclusion, and so must be argued on philosophical grounds. However, he makes a mistake in framing the question...
Life in God: John Calvin, Practical Formation, and the Future of Protestant Theology
Life in God: John Calvin, Practical Formation, and the Future of Protestant Theology BY MATTHEW BOULTON, EERDMANS, 242 PAGES, $28Matthew Boulton's new book, Life in God, serves as a healthy reminder of Calvin's emphasis on Christian formation within...
Lines of Flight
Lines of Flight BY CATHERINE CHANDLER ABLE MUSE PRESS, 98 PAGES, $15.95Catherine Chandler, a deft hand at ballades, pantoums, villanelles, even sapphics, and an uncanny adept at the sonnet (she is the winner of the 2011 Nemerov Award) is a poet whose...
Man the Religious Animal
Are human beings naturally religious? Should we take religion to be in some way an innate, instinctive, or otherwise inevitable aspect of human life? Or is religion a historically contingent, nonessential aspect of basic human being?These are not questions...
On Two Moons and a Prayer
On Two Moons and a Prayer by Randy Boyagoda 1Q84 BY HARUKI MURAKAMI TRANSLATED BY JAY RUBIN AND PHILIP GABRIEL KNOPF, 944 PAGES, $30.50Much to my surprise, given the author's reputation, I began to care about the main characters of Japanese novelist...
Pornography and Acedia
A uniquely toxic combination of the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh has become an almost normal component of everyday life: the perturbingly pervasive use of pornography in general and internet pornography in particular, with its dangerous...
Relativism's Moral Mission
In The Brothers Karamazov, the rationalist and unbelieving Ivan is visited by the devil, who lays out the moral consequences of atheism. After belief in God is extinguished, "man will be exalted with the spirit of divine, titanic pride, and the man-god...
The Back Page
with partisan struggle, polls, campaigning, and the fortunes of a distinct "political" class. And it is probably always wise to remember that what we call "politics" today is often only the final and superficial manifestation of a profounder and more...
The Divine Music of Mathematics
It is consoling to think that the emotions that music arouses in us have something to do with the makeup of the universe. The eternal relation of math and music has been a perennial question since Plato, from Boethius and Cassiodorus in late antiquity,...
The Myth of Public Reason
In recent decades a consensus has emerged that religious ideas and theological notions are sectarian and private in character, and therefore they should not be offered in the public square. A genuine "public philosophy," to use the term of art, must...
The Sacrifices of War
The Sacrifices of War by Eric Cohen War and the American Difference: Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity BY STANLEY HAUERWAS BAKER ACADEMIC, 2.2.4 PAGES, $19.99It is hard to think about the future of warfare without being terrified....
The Words of Others: From Quotations to Culture
The Words of Others: From Quotations to Culture BY GARY SAUL MORSON YALE, 352 PAGES, $30Perhaps it was as a diversion from writing books on Tolstoy and Dostoevsky that the author, a professor of Slavic languages at Northwestern, decided to write on the...
While We're at It
* We write this on Shrove Tuesday, with Ash Wednesday and Lent arriving tomorrow, and you will be reading this, those of you in liturgical churches, a few weeks into Lent. We hope you're advancing in holiness. William F. Buckley is said to have answered...
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