• The Italian government is trying seven seismologists for manslaughter because they didn’t predict an earthquake in 2009 that killed over 300 people. We think the court should put the tectonic plates on trial too”and if they’re found guilty, put them in chains.

• A polling company presumably looking to gin up publicity put this question to the public: “If God exists, do you approve or disapprove of its performance?” God fared pretty well: 52 percent of those polled approved while 9 percent disapproved. Much better than either the Democrats or Republicans in Congress, and way, way better than Rupert Murdoch.

We suspect close to 100 percent approve of the job God did when he, sorry it, created them . It’s what he did when he created everyone else, or at least certain other people, that some of that 9 percent are thinking about.

The 39 percent who didn’t answer had, we suppose, the good sense not to answer the question. Where were they, after all, when he laid the foundation of the earth? Or for that matter knit them together in their mothers’ womb?

• The polling company spoke of God as “it,” by the way, because “not everyone who believes in God believes God to be male.” We sure don’t, just to be clear.

• A little to our surprise, the young care more about the question than do the old. Adults under thirty approved of God’s performance by a margin of 67 to 18 percent, with only 15 percent not sure, while those over 65 approved by a margin of 40 to 6 percent, with 54 percent”the majority not sure. The polling company suggested that maybe young people are “much more comfortable answering silly questions about religion while the elderly feel a question on God’s approval is taking religion too lightly.”

• That may well be true, the old being on the whole more religiously observant than the young. But maybe the young actually care more, while many of their elders don’t feel strongly either way. It’s easy to be reverent when you don’t care, and easy to be irreverent when you do.

• The administration wants to launch lots of programs to make people’s lives better, like the Promise Neighborhoods program, which will “create plans to provide cradle-to-career services that improve the educational achievement and healthy development of children,” according to a White House press release. Such confident hopes depend, of course, on confidence that you know what you are doing. It is not to doubt this administration in particular to doubt that such confidence in our ability to predict the effects of our policies is justified.

Take the design of the suburbs. “In the early twentieth century, modernists decried overcrowded cities that were synonymous with pollution, slums, and poverty,” writes Emily Badger on The Atlantic ’s “Atlantic Cities” website. “They wanted to do away with unnecessary streets and give each factory worker and company man his own slice of the country.”

Particularly bad, from the planners’ point of view, were grids, and the ideal suburban neighborhood grew more and more loopy and full of culs-de-sac. One government design manual even showed maps of a typical gridded neighborhood, marked “bad,” and a loopier one, marked “good.” The development wasn’t the result of market forces but of government planning and direction.

“The FHA never put it quite this way,” writes Badger, “but what we were really doing was building communities for cars, not people . . . . ‘That is the fundamental connection between looking back toward older methods of design,’ Garrick [civil engineering professor Norman Garrick] says. ‘We need to remember when we’re designing that we’re designing for humans, not for objects, and not for the movement of these objects. It’s about human beings, about humans being able to get from one place to the other.’”

As it turned out, those gridded streets were considerably safer, for bicyclists and drivers both, than the twisty, windy roads of suburbia, and the people who lived on them more connected to others and their neighbors. And people in the twisty windy suburbs tended to have higher foreclosure rates than those in the gridded cities because the costs of transportation could empty the bank account of a family stretched to the breaking point.

There are good arguments, we realize, for living in the suburbs, and costs to living in the city. We just want to point out that once planners thought they were doing the obviously right thing in using government policy to create one type of suburb. Now we know better. The old planners didn’t look “at the underlying patterns: the way streets and people connect with each other. Now, what intuitively made sense to us a hundred years ago can be justified and measured in foreclosure rates, vehicle miles traveled, and traffic fatalities. ‘It’s ironic,’ Garrick says, ‘but the thing is the patterns that we used to use in American cities are patterns that were built over thousands of years. And there’s a reason they were built that way.’”

There is a lesson in this for our bright and eager policy-makers. Not, we’re afraid, that they’ll learn it.

• What many people learn from the lessons of such failures is not that man is limited but that the men of the past were ignorant. Now, they think, we know better. They see such lessons only in terms of the state of our knowledge and not of the always circumscribed conditions of our knowing it.

• It starts out well, this editorial in The Australian , criticizing “the growing band of radical secularists who see religion as a dangerous throwback to a less-enlightened era.” Secularism has its problems (the secularists can’t understand “human complexity, our ability to love, and our appreciation of beauty”) and religion has its value (the editors invoke the example of the religious communities in England who stood together to protect their neighborhoods during July’s riots and note, tartly, “Unless we missed something, none were communities of atheists”).

It doesn’t end so well, this editorial in what is, after all, a secular newspaper. The radical secularists’ argument against religion and religious people “does not recognize the broader contribution Catholicism has made and continues to make in Australia and around the world in the fields of health, education and charity or the personal peace many find through its ministry and liturgy.”

It sounds good, until you think about it. The editors do not mention, nor apparently value, the Church’s role as a speaker in the public square. She is for them only a provider of goods and services, public and private, which those radical secularists risk throwing away. They want the Church around, but only as the street sweeper in the naked public square. With friends like these, as the expression goes.

The greatest contribution the Church makes in Australia and around the world is the proclamation of a message about Jesus, and therefore about human dignity and freedom, a message the world needs even more than it needs health, education, charity, or personal peace.

• Speaking of journalists, annoying is the claim in the second paragraph of Victor L. Simpson’s AP story on the pope’s visit to Germany: “Benedict began his first state visit to Germany in a bid to stem the tide of Catholics leaving the church while acknowledging the damage caused by the clerical sex abuse scandal.” Just speaking journalistically, how does Simpson know this?

Is that the only plausible reason the head of the world’s largest religious group might visit one of the most powerful countries on earth, which he just happens to come from? Maybe he wants to talk to the leaders there. Maybe he wants to encourage his flock and build friendships with other Christians. Maybe he has a message he wants to give the country and through it the world. Maybe he just wants to speak German for a few days and get some good beer and sausage.

• Simpson offers the standard journalistic narrative: The Church’s reasons for her actions are always political, she’s always calculating, she’s always on the defensive, the main question is always the conflict between progressives and conservatives, a.k.a. the open and the intolerant/reactionary/rigid, as the Church struggles to deal with the modern world. The main story always has to do with the sex-abuse scandal. Protest, secular or Catholic, is always central. (In America, the standard narrative includes quotations from Thomas Reese, S.J., explaining what that backwards Benedict et al. just don’t understand.)

The story, in other words, is always that the Church looks inward. The Catholic Church”and any other Christian body that hasn’t given in to modernity”takes up public space, and has to be covered because she takes up so much public space, but she can’t be allowed to have a public voice. It’s a kind of compliment, this narrative: We can understand why journalists would want to direct attention away from the eloquent and winning voice of Benedict XVI.

• After spending a week each in silent retreat with the Benedictines and the Quakers, a young religious seeker on a popular evangelical website wrote that she decided “the distinctions between Catholics and Quakers that seem so pronounced on the outside are but accidental fences in the endless continuum of God’s grace.” It seems to us that two groups of people, each being silent for a week, might seem a great deal more alike than they would have if they had been talking.

• We have, as we’ve said before, very clever readers. Liza Anderson, a doctoral student at Yale, sends us her translation of an anonymous medieval Syriac text called “Ten Excellent Qualities of the Dog, Which a Good Servant of God Should Possess.” The text begins by noting that “Wise and learned people say that the dog possesses ten excellent qualities.”

The first is that he is always full of enthusiasm. This is the mark of the devout and the virtuous.

The second is that he does not have a fixed place to sleep. This is the condition of wanderers who rely on God.

The third is that he does not sleep all night long, except only for a moment, but spends the night awake in order to guard his master. This is the mark of the loving and the merciful.

The fourth is that he leaves behind absolutely nothing when he dies. This is the characteristic of the poor and the destitute.

The fifth is that he does not forsake his master. Even if he beats him, he does not abandon him. This is a symbol of those who love and cherish their Master.

The sixth is that he accepts a humble place and remains there. This is a symbol of those who accept sufferings and adversity.

The seventh is that, even if he laments his position, he perseveres and does not abandon it. This is a symbol of the upright, the humble, and the wise.

The eighth is that if one chases him and hits him, and immediately afterwards calls him and offers him a scrap of food, he comes and accepts it without anger or a grudge. This is a sign of the straightforward and the simple.

The ninth is that he remains at a distance and does not allow himself to approach when food is being prepared. This is the attitude of those who have control over themselves and who have received grace.

The tenth is that, when he leaves his place, he does not bring anything with him. This is a symbol of the ascetics and the anchorites.

He also has another, that when his master beats him, he lies on his back, whimpers, and extends his paw. This is a symbol of servants.

And another, that it is his mouth which attracts blows, and his tail which earns him food.

The translation is, we should note, copyright Liza Anderson. We would also note that no one would ever think to write “Ten Excellent Qualities of the Cat, Which a Good Servant of God Should Possess.”

• For readers who are interested in this sort of thing, a poll of the people here at the office shows that five of nine have dogs. The others all live in apartments, which is some excuse.

• We don’t depend upon newsstand sales, but we do keep up with what other magazines are doing, and the news is not good. In the last ten years, the copies sold on newsstands of the top sixty-eight magazines dropped from about twenty-two million per issue to a little over eleven million, most of the loss coming in the last three years. 58 of the 68 lost newsstand readers.

Women’s magazines crashed. Redbook dropped from a little under 600,000 to a little over 100,000, and Glamour ”does no one remember, by the way, what that word originally meant?”slid from a little over one million to a little under 500,000. The ghastly Cosmopolitan , alas, declined only from 1,918,279 to 1,599,305, still 1,599,305 more copies than it should sell.

Men’s magazines did badly as well. The sales of car magazines, a little surprisingly, dropped. So did the “lad mags” like Maxim ”the men’s Cosmopolitan ”which lost over 70 percent of its sales and dropped to about 250,000. So did the “men’s magazines” like GQ ”the metrosexual’s Cosmopolitan ”which dropped 16 percent to about 170,000.

A few men’s magazines did well, like the relatively small circulation Inc. and Fast Company . Also creeping up was Esquire ”the men’s Vogue , with lower morals”whose sales grew 20 percent and which now sells almost 100,000 copies on the newsstand. The newsstand sales of Men’s Health , which now sells 400,000-some copies, also grew.

As we say, for the great majority (85 percent) of the big magazines, the newsstand news is bad. Or maybe it’s good, given most of the magazines we’re talking about. Just glancing at the website for Cosmopolitan ”oddly enough, we don’t seem to have a copy of the magazine around here”we see the headline “A naughty bedroom game you ought to play tonight,” with a picture of a partly clothed couple beginning to play. You get the idea.

• Just in case you’re curious, “glamour” means, as the website BrainyQuote puts it, “A charm affecting the eye, making objects appear different from what they really are.” Merriam-Webster defines the word first as “a magic spell” and only second as “an exciting and often illusory and romantic attractiveness.” When Catholics renew their baptismal promises at the Easter Vigil, they are still asked “Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?”

It may be useful to think of this, and remember that the glamour of Glamour is still glamorous. And that one can be mastered by the glamour Glamour glamorizes.

• Disappointing: A proposal by two British Members of Parliament that the counselors who talk to women about abortion not work for the companies that provide abortions”this is the law in Germany”was shot down by the commentariat and the coalition government, whose Tory health minister wrote all the Tory MPs to tell them the ministers were all voting against it. That’s called a hint, and apparently the MPs fell in line. The Tory prime minister, not, as far as we can tell, a friend of the unborn, bailed on the proposal.

During the controversy this commonsensical proposal ignited, one writer in The Guardian (England’s ideological sister to the New York Times ) complained about “some old geezer in the House of Commons” who wants to “poke around” in her uterus. With an enjoyable refusal to cower in the face of hysteria, the journalist Mary Wakefield responded in The Spectator , “Hey ho Suzanne, you’d better stay angry, because otherwise you might have to think.”

Wakefield didn’t want MPs poking around in her uterus either, but “there’s got to be a stage during pregnancy when a baby can no longer be thought of as part of a woman’s ‘body.’ If Suzanne’s right that a foetus has the same moral status as a kidney, then does she also think it’s okay to sell it, say to medical science”and without whispering a word to its father? . . . Is this really the best of politically correct, 21st-century thinking?”

The obvious answers are no and no. It’s a kind of judo approach, Wakefield’s, starting as far as possible from the pro-choicers’ point of view and letting the force of their own commitments lead to the conclusion that there have to be some limits to abortion”and if there are some limits . . . We commend the strategy, though in this matter, as the debates of the last thirty-some years have demonstrated, the Suzannes of the world will not think.

• London Times journalist Hugo Rifkind thinks “abortion is a thing worth fighting for,” but in the same issue of The Spectator writes with admirable honesty about the nature of the argument. “The reason everybody gets so shrill over abortion, I’ve often thought, is that nobody is quite prepared to admit what they’re talking about . . . . I mean the pros and cons of a system of morality that is coldly utilitarian, and nothing else.”

It’s nice for someone on that side of the fence, and with those establishment credentials, to say so. The article gets even more fun when Rifkind goes on to explain that “people with faith (among which I do not number) had a clearer moral code than those without . . . . It’s just harder for non-believers to explain what ‘good’ means. They (we) have to talk about respect and humanity, but both go back to ethics, and without God, ethics goes back to . . . what?” (The ellipsis is his.)

His answer is “convenience,” which he admits “is quite a small, mean word for what I’m talking about.” You just have to decide, he says, and say, “This is what feels right . . . . It’s convenient for people not to kill each other. It’s convenient to have a notion of humanity that embraces and formalizes all this. Inconvenience, in this respect, would be deeply ugly. It’s just a bit scary to acknowledge the possibility that it all might be built on sand.”

Might be? “Convenience” isn’t just a small, mean word for a philosophy built on sand, it’s a word of which whole beaches are made. We have trouble thinking of a sandier foundation for morals than “convenience.”

Rifkind says it’s convenient for people not to kill each other, yet he thinks it’s worth fighting to let some people kill others. What he means is that it isn’t convenient for people like him to kill or to be killed by others who (unlike the unborn) might fight back, because society would quickly and inconveniently break down. But what if killing him is convenient for someone else, like a medical board deciding on life-saving surgery that doesn’t have enough money to cover everyone’s operation and recommends euthanasia for that old codger Rifkind? The question of what’s truly convenient goes back to ethics, and without God, ethics goes back to . . . what?

• Remarking on a writer who sends us article after article, despite several patient explanations that we do not publish devotional items, and who, we found out, submits the same articles to at least one other magazine without telling us, our former assistant editor Kevin Joyce”now off at seminary”wrote, “I have often striven to imitate the K method. Undaunted by irrelevance, unbothered by irony, and unassailably earnest. O, that we might be more like him in living, if not in writing.”

• Two years ago, 80 percent of the congregation of St. Mark’s-on-the-Mesa, an Episcopal church in Albuquerque, left the Episcopal Church to form a new church in a new Anglican denomination called the Anglican Church of North America, for the usual reasons. Admirably wanting to avoid strife, not to mention lawsuits, they left behind the building, liturgical vessels, office equipment, bank accounts, everything.

Imagine their surprise when late this summer they received a letter from the Episcopal bishop asking them to pay 80 percent of the amount the parish owed the diocese for the fiscal quarter of the year in which they left. The diocesan council was going to reduce the amount it required of the now much smaller parish, until someone thought they’d ask for the whole amount and hit up the people who had left for most of it. “I would ask that you would prayerfully consider accepting the responsibility of paying the portion of the Fair Share that was required by the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande,” Bishop Michael Vono concluded his letter dunning them for the money.

As one commenter on an Anglican website noted, the Episcopal establishment has long insisted that a parish cannot leave the Episcopal Church. The people may leave, but the parish (and its property) must remain. But then it is also true that only parishes can owe money to the diocese. The Diocese of the Rio Grande seems to have forgotten that.

• Ikea stores in Australia have introduced daycare centers for grown men, “modeled off the Ikea toddler-care area.” The areas, known in pseudo-Swedish as “Mänland,” apparently “makes everyone happy”particularly the guys, who don’t seem to mind the suggestion that they’re essentially imbecilic toddlers who need to be dropped off and picked up like they’re still in preschool,” reports Adweek . “Women are given a buzzer to remind them to collect their significant other after thirty minutes of shopping. (Instead of arts and crafts, the guys play foosball and Xbox games, watch sports, and eat free hot dogs.)”

Mänland is, of course, a publicity stunt, and we admit a good one, since it has gotten a lot of attention in the Australian media and been noticed elsewhere. Part of the reason for the attention undoubtedly comes from the fact that the chain’s marketing department has tapped into a reservoir of anxiety and uncertainty over the place of men and related issues of immaturity and irresponsibility.

There are men, or rather physically adult males, who need daycare, whose girlfriends or wives are the responsible ones, the ones who do the grown-up things like shopping. It’s a brilliant bit of marketing, because it doesn’t just hawk a product: It reveals a partial truth.

Beggar’s Feast is the second novel by the young Canadian writer Randy Boyagoda, whose review of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King appeared in the last issue and who is working on a biography of a certain Richard John Neuhaus. His first novel, Governor of the Northern Province , told the story of a notorious former African warlord who lives as an anonymous immigrant in rural Canada. It’s an often funny anti-bildungsroman that brings out our incorrigible tendency to be incorrigible.

Beggar’s Feast follows the life of Sam Kandy, a village boy in what was then known as Ceylon, whose bitter resentment of dead-end peasant life is infinitely compounded by its iron grasp over his sense of self. He escapes to Colombo and eventually to Australia, then Singapore, but the village draws him back, and under its influence his resentments become destructive. Murder and mayhem would seem to triumph, yet Sam”and by implication Sri Lankan culture”endures, eventually achieving a supremely ironic (and profitable) reconciliation of the old ways with modern realities.

A child of Sri Lankan immigrants living and teaching in Canada, Boyagoda has crafted a fictional life that embodies the loyalties and resentments, achievements and agonies, of men and women who, whether through colonial and postcolonial transformations or the dislocations of immigrant life, endure the ruptures of modernity. A well-told story that makes us look forward to reading his life of Richard John Neuhaus.

• Some statistics you just can’t believe. Like the one finding that the United States ranks only forty-first in the world on neonatal mortality”the death of infants in the first four weeks after birth. Tied with Croatia. So claims the World Health Organization in a new report, and the usual people have taken this as more evidence that the United States needs to further socialize its medical system.

But forty-first? Really ?

Let’s say that our rate is worse than that of all the advanced European countries, and let’s be generous with the definition of “advanced.” That would put us, oh, twentieth. Let’s throw in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. That puts us twenty-third. Add Israel. Add Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. Twenty-seventh. Throw in five more spots for countries elsewhere just in case. thirty-second. That’s as far down the list as America is ever going to appear.

In fact, argues James W. Atlas of the Stanford University Medical School and the Hoover Institute, the country is probably very much higher on the list, at worst third behind Sweden and Norway. It may be first if factors specific to America are considered, like its greater ethnic and racial diversity, rates being higher among minority populations all over the world. The reason, explains Atlas, is that we report every death of a new born as the death of a newborn, and a lot of other countries, including the European ones, don’t. Or as he puts it, “Infant and neonatal mortality rates are complex, multifactorial end-points that oversimplify heterogeneous inputs.”

Writing for National Review , Atlas notes that some countries”Belgium, France, and Spain, for example”don’t count every baby born alive as alive, unless he lives for a certain period beyond birth. The United States actually follows WHO’s definition of live birth, which counts every child as born alive who “breathes or shows any other evidence of life . . . whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached.”

In up to three quarters of other countries, the figures come from surveys of households taken every five years. A lot of infant deaths go unreported, especially those that occur early. Several peer-reviewed studies show that even in Europe and Asia ten to thirty percent of the deaths go unreported. In the United States, the hospitals report the deaths so they all get counted.

So not forty-first. Not even thirty-second. Third, or maybe second, or maybe first.

• We almost wrote “the death of infants in the first four weeks of life” in the second sentence of the previous item, as did Dr. Atlas, whom we hope knows better. These children have been alive for up to nine months already.

England used to be a Christian country, at least legally. Now, it’s becoming something more the opposite. For years, Jamie Murray, owner of the Salt and Light Café in Blackpool, has played a DVD series that goes through the whole Bible on a small television screen at the back of the café. Someone complained that he was inciting hatred against homosexuals and two police officers walked into the café and grilled him for an hour, he says.

“I thought there might be some mix-up but they said they were here to explain the law to me and how I had broken it. I said, ‘Are you really telling me that I am facing arrest for playing the Bible?’ and the WPC fixed me with a stare and said, ‘If you broadcast material that causes offence under the Public Order Act then we will have to take matters further. You cannot break the law.’”

A police spokesman said: “At no point did the officer ask the cafe owner to remove any materials or arrest the man and we took a commonsense and objective approach in dealing with the complaint. We believe our response and the action we took was completely proportionate and our officers are always available should the cafe owner want to discuss the matter or need any advice in the future.”

There is, we would note, the voice of oppression in the reasonable, low-key English mode. An hour’s “conversation” over a clearly frivolous complaint is commonsensical, objective, and completely proportionate, and the officers will be happy to talk with the man again should he “need any advice,” the implication being that he is doing things about which advice might need to be taken.

The estimable Christian Institute is taking up Murray’s case and filing a complaint against the police.

• Many Coptic Orthodox parents in Canada send their children to Catholic schools, explains the helpful Murray Whyte, writing for the Toronto Star , because “the differences are slight”they use the same liturgies, though Orthodox Christians differ from Roman Catholics in their belief that the Pope is a human being, not a divine figure.” The newspaper later corrected the story by dropping the bit after the em-dash.

• In “Literature and Torah” in this issue, Shalom Carmy explains how literature helps us understand other people’s ways of understanding the world, reflecting on the novels of Colm Tóibín, an author he would not have expected to enjoy. Using something they called the Twilight/Harry Potter Narrative Collective Assimilation Scale, two psychologists from the University of Buffalo proved scientifically (your tax dollars at work) that people tend to identify with the characters they read about and that fiction offers a “social connection and the blissful calm that comes from becoming a part of something larger than oneself for a precious, fleeting moment.”

Another study, this one by a professor at the University of Toronto (someone else’s tax dollars at work), found that readers empathized with the characters in a short story more than did other readers who read the story written as a documentary. Fiction increases empathy but non-fiction doesn’t, argued Keith Oatley, “because fiction is primarily about selves interacting with other selves in the social world . . . . If I read fiction, this kind of social thinking is what I get better at. If I read genetics or astronomy, I get more expert at genetics or astronomy.”

We, and Rabbi Carmy, would have thought you wouldn’t need a study to figure this out. Reading a few books would have done it. But we’re glad to have the proof anyway, especially since we already paid for it, or at least the American study.

• The editor reflects on the history of Catholicism in modern Europe and America in this month’s “Public Square.” Francis Cardinal George has no illusions about the challenge, as he showed, with that good humor born of hope, lecturing in the First Things office last May on his new book, God In Action . As he wrote in the book, “A government that determines what is a religious ministry and what is not, what is the nature of an institution such as marriage, which predates both Church and state and is the creature of neither, when human life begins and when it can be taken without penal trial has exceeded the boundaries of limited government and is already on the road to totalitarianism.”

We might not use the “T” word as quickly as he does, though the cardinal has been in the trenches for a long time, and his hard words reflect hard experiences. He’s seen that “democracy depends on a vision of what it means to be human that it itself cannot provide .” Religion does provide it, and could be the savior of democracy in America”but we know what people do to their saviors.

• Congratulations to Roger Kimball, David Yezzi, and our friends at The New Criterion , who have just begun their thirtieth year, even more impressively described as their fourth decade, of publication. The monthly journal began in defense of the fine arts and the disciplines of high culture, as the editors wrote in their opening statement back in 1982. The defense continues, thoughtfully and boldly, not to mention entertainingly.

The next year will feature a series called “Future Tense: The Lessons of Culture in an Age of Upheaval.” The editors intend the series “partly to provide a cultural pathologist’s report on America and the West’s recent trajectory, but also to provide some tonic admonitory counsel about recapturing the civilizational vitality that seems in many respects to have ebbed away.” Among the writers will be our contributing writer David Bentley Hart.

For information on this unique and crucial journal, see newcriterion.com .

• In their opening comments to the latest issue, the New Criterion ’s editors refer to “a disciple of the French deconstructionist Jacques Derrida, who declared that ‘unproblematic prose’ and ‘clarity’ were ‘the conceptual tools of conservatism.’” There speaks, we suspect, a man who can’t write.

• The 2012 Best Christian Writing is out, and includes three of our articles (with The Gettysburg Review , the most of any magazine): Stephen M. Barr’s “Fearful Symmetries,” David Novak’s “Why are the Jews Chosen?” and Ron Rosenbaum’s “Rescuing Evil.” An appendix listing “other notable spiritual writing” includes Mary Eberstadt’s “Christianity Lite” and Brian Doyle’s poem “Cub Scout.” Congratulations to all of them.

We would like many more people reading such articles. If you have some friends who’d like to see a sample copy, please send us their names and addresses at ft@firstthings.com. We appreciate your help.

while we’re at it sources: Seismic trials: nbcnewyork.com , September 20, 2011. Judging God: publicpolicypolling.blogspot.com , July 22, 2011. Bad planning: theatlanticcities.com , September 19, 2011. Marginalizing editors: The Australian , September 10, 2011. Bad reporting: AP, September 22, 2011. Godly dogs: Translated from the Syriac text ‘’Les Dix Vertus du Chien in Mélanges de philologie orientale , 1932. Ungodly magazines: mediapost.com , September 12, 2011. Wakefield vs. Rifkind: The Spectator , September 10, 2011. Begging diocese: americananglican.org , Sepember 23, 2011. ?Mansitting: adweek.com , September 20, 2011. America in 41st place: Nationalreview.com , September 14, 2011, “Neonatal Mortality Levels,” plosmedicine.org , August 2011. Unchristian England: Dailymail.com , September 25, 2011. Fictional connections: Guardian.co.uk , September 7, 2011. The divine pope: Toronto Star , August 8, 2011.

wwai tips: Liza Anderson, Mike Aquilina, Matthew Cantirino, Meghan Duke, Joe Long, Nathaniel Peters, R. R. Reno, Kevin Staley-Joyce, & William Tighe.