Child’s play

Chesterton, Ker says ( G. K. Chesterton: A Biography ), recognized that playing with children is like “wrestling for hours with gigantic angels and devils.” It requires “principles of the highest morality,” to decide, for instance, “before the awful eyes of innocence, . . . . Continue Reading »

The Best Giving

In his biography of G. K. Chesterton , Ian Ker summarizes Chesterton’s analysis of Francis’s praise of creation: “Francis’s ‘great gratitude’ for existence was not just a feeling or sentiment: it was ‘the very rock of reality,’ besides which . . . . Continue Reading »


One of Handel’s go-to techniques was “madrigalism,” which took its name from its use in Renaissance madrigals. Calvin Stapert defines madrigalism as “imitation of a word or phrase by the music - for example, an ascending scale on the word ‘climb,’ fast notes on . . . . Continue Reading »

How the West Was Won

In one of the essays in The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States , Gordon Wood notes that American policy concerning the Western frontier “rested on the assumption that settlement of the western territories would be neat and orderly.” If wasn’t. Far from . . . . Continue Reading »

America in the Pacific

Between the end of the nineteenth century and the 1970s, the US engaged in a series of Asian wars. They were “not separate and unconnected,” as often believed, argue Michael Hunt and Steven Levine in Arc of Empire: America’s Wars in Asia from the Philippines to Vietnam . Rather, . . . . Continue Reading »

The Idea of Dubai

Dubai came to the world’s attention only a few years ago, writes Daniel Brook in A History of Future Cities . It looked like an unprecedented miracle: “The instant global metropolis with a ‘skyline on crack’ captivated the world with record-setting skyscrapers, indoor ski . . . . Continue Reading »

Eschatological self

In her contribution to Last Things: Death and the Apocalypse in the Middle Ages (The Middle Ages Series) , Anna Harrison concludes that “Bernard [of Clairvaux’s] conception of community among the saints in heaven is limited” (204). She elaborates: “Although he does talk . . . . Continue Reading »

Relationship all the way down

Time exists, argues Lee Smolin Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe . Space, though - space is secondary, an emergent property, a manifestation of some deeper reality. What might that be? In his NYRB review of Smolin’s book, James Gleick anwers: “For . . . . Continue Reading »

Norman Shepherd

Before the Federal Vision, there was the Norman Shepherd controversy, which shook Westminster Seminary in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though repeatedly exonerated, Shepherd was ultimately dismissed for the good of the seminary. It was a convoluted and intensely personal and political battle, . . . . Continue Reading »