Hopping Back Over the Wall of Separation

From First Thoughts

A public school in California brings in a lesbian to speak to the students about her homosexuality. Parents, finding out about it after the fact, ask the school to reveal to them what was said. The school claims that it need not inform the parents as to what transpired in their children’s . . . . Continue Reading »

The Conversion of Michael J. Fox

From First Thoughts

It’s hard to miss Mr. Fox these days. The diminutive actor who runs the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research has a new book in print and a television special airing on May 7, and he is doing endless interviews to promote his cause. His cause is to find a cure for . . . . Continue Reading »

Beauty Is as Beauty Does

From the November 2006 Print Edition

On Beauty by Zadie Smith Penguin, 464 pages, $15 (paperback). In On Beauty , British writer Zadie Smith has turned her attention to the post-September 11 United States and has been widely praised for the result, which is a big comic novel that builds a topical tale on a classic foundation. Cleverly . . . . Continue Reading »

Ordinary Idols

From the October 2005 Print Edition

Death of an Ordinary Man: A Novel by Glen Duncan Grove. 320 pp. $13 paper. “As soon as the soul is set free from the body it is either plunged into hell or soars to heaven,” wrote that doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas back in the thirteenth century, “unless it be held back by . . . . Continue Reading »

Christ and Casserole

From the March 2005 Print Edition

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 247 pp. $23. Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, published in 1981, is an extraordinary work of art, and many readers have waited impatiently for Robinson to publish a second novel. I’m among them, although I’ve waited more in dread than . . . . Continue Reading »

Extended Conversation

From the January 2005 Print Edition

Artistic License: Three Centuries of Good Writing and Bad Behavior by Brooke Allen Ivan R. Dee, 244 pp. $26 I’ll write because I’ll give You, critics, means to live; For should I not supply The cause, th’effect would die. Robert Herrick’s quatrain is a reminder which critics . . . . Continue Reading »

Jesus in America

From the June/July 2004 Print Edition

The America of the title is the United States, from colonial times to the present. The Jesus of the title is all the things the subtitle says and more. To Jesus’ question “Who do you say that I am?” Americans have offered seemingly numberless and often contradictory replies. In Jesus . . . . Continue Reading »