An Open Letter to Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

I will start out politely, with the traditional As-salaam-u alaykum, peace be to you, and I will even use the title you have given yourself, and I will try to keep this note brief, for I can only imagine the press of your days, what with trying to manage a nascent state, and a fractious staff, and . . . . Continue Reading »

Compassion, Yes, But Prudence, Too

The Syrian refugee crisis has metastasized to a crisis for more than just the refugees. With at least one of the terrorists responsible for the slaughter of innocents in Paris having gained European entry from among the cohort of evacuees fleeing the Levant, the fear that the refugee crisis could . . . . Continue Reading »

Olivia Pope and the Virgin Mary

It is Christmas Eve, and Olivia Pope, star of the ABC melodrama Scandal is about to get an abortion. In an episode that aired Thursday night, she lays in the operating bed while the music of “Silent Night” plays. We watch her face run through the emotions of anxiety, uncertainty, and pain while . . . . Continue Reading »

First Links — 11.20.15

What Polls Can't Tell Us about Faith in America
Jody Avirgan, Emma Green, Leah Libresco, FiveThirtyEight

English is not Normal
John McWhorter, Aeon

What Can We Do as Muslims in Wake of #ParisAttacks?
Saud Inam, Patheos

Art for All of Us? Greek Tragedy and War Veterans
Sarah Ruden, Books and Culture

The Illusion of Respectability 
Allen Guelzo, Christianity Today

Where the Safe Things Are
Rek LeCounte, Token Dissonance

All Valid Law is Analogical
Graham McAleer, Library of Law and Liberty

Dinner Invitations Yes, but also Sharing Houses
Wesley Hill, Spiritual Friendship

What We've Been Reading

As I rode the train to DC for Yuval Levin’s lecture last week, I read Haunted Castles, a volume of gothic stories by Ray Russell. The volume includes his famous sibilant tales, Sardonicus, Sagittarius, and Sanguinarius, as well as Comet Wine, the story of the world’s greatest unknown composer. All are memorable and finely wrought (one of Russell’s characters says “my preferences, as you know, have always been for the baroque”; so too with the author).


Remembering Brett Foster

Sad news from last week: Wheaton College mourns the death of Professor Brett Foster, who has been a good, true friend to his students and colleagues on campus,” said Wheaton College President Dr. Philip G. Ryken. “Dr. Foster’s exceptional poems will be a lasting treasure for all who read them, . . . . Continue Reading »

Corporeal Justice at Princeton

Friends, You may have seen the news of Princeton's courageous decision to rename the “masters” of its residential colleges as “heads” in response to the unrest at Missouri, Yale, etc. As an alumnus/a/x of the university, I wholly support this decision. Given that Princeton has mostly . . . . Continue Reading »

Saving Willy Loman

The focus on the increase in death rates for white Americans between ages 45-54 in the media obscures equally troubling results in Anne Case and Angus Deaton’s recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife . . . . Continue Reading »