Polite Fascism in New Jersey

From First Thoughts

In the pages of the Times of Trenton on January 20, a psychologist named Ronald J. Coughlin published an op-ed titled “Fundamental Changes Would Better American Society.” Mr. Coughlin is worried about a lot of the right things: alcohol abuse, the divorce rate, childbearing out of wedlock (particularly among teens). But what ideas he has for “fundamental changes”! The idea, for instance, that because science tells us about the maturing brain we ought to raise the drinking age to twenty-five is going to go over big, with an electorate that can vote at eighteen. (Mr. Coughlin may want to change that too, for all I know.) 
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Cuomo at Notre Dame, Thirty Years On

From First Thoughts

In his Washington Post column today, E.J. Dionne pays tribute to the late Mario Cuomo. It is right and fitting that he should do so, since what Cuomo was to politics, Dionne is to journalism: a man constantly reminding us he is Catholic while he counsels and supports the violation of central tenets of the faith, at least where one of those central tenets—the sanctity of life—is concerned. Continue Reading »

A Daily Reading Plan for Shakespeare’s Works

From First Thoughts

couple of years ago, having twice gone through the Bible on daily reading plans, I wanted to tackle Shakespeare’s complete works with similar discipline. Unfortunately, after searching high and low, I could find no daily reading plan for Shakespeare. So I created one, and read all the works in 2013—even the plays Shakespeare c0-authored—in less than half an hour a day. Continue Reading »

Distinctly Defamatory

From First Thoughts

In a self-destructive spasm of what we used to call Freudian projection, Michael Sean Winters claims that Archbishop Charles Chaput ought to apologize for and withdraw the remarks he made a week ago, in answering a question after his Erasmus Lecture, about the recent synod in Rome. . . . . Continue Reading »

“Confusion Is of the Devil” Indeed

From First Thoughts

I don’t often read Michael Sean Winters, who blogs at the National Catholic Reporter site, and his attack the other day on Archbishop Charles Chaput (which I discovered thanks to RealClearReligion) confirmed the wisdom of my habitual negligence. On the basis of a few words reported by another journalist who attended Chaput’s Erasmus Lecture hosted by First Things on Monday evening, Winters leapt to the most unjust and uncharitable conclusions, beginning with the proclamation in his headline that Chaput offered a “Remarkable Challenge to Pope Francis.” Since I was there Monday evening, I was interested in what “challenge” Winters could mean. Continue Reading »

Uncluttering the House of the Mind

From Web Exclusives

thank Headmaster Crowe for that gracious introduction. And I thank Professor Owen Anderson of Arizona State University for introducing me to the headmaster, and to the wonderful venture of the Great Hearts Academies, which are doing such good in the world, one teacher, one student, one person at a time. One person at a time, I think, is really the only way to do any good in the world, for human beings are individual persons in communities, not statistics in a collective or parts in a machine. So on this happy day, as the students of the class of 2014 celebrate a milestone achievement with their families, their friends, and their teachers, I come to congratulate you, to wish you well, and to address each of you as a person who has received the good turn of a fine education, and who should feel a responsibility to repay the debt of that education by living well as a person, mindful of the personhood, the individuality, and the good of others around you, in the various communities through which your life will take you. Continue Reading »