From a Lost World

From the January 2014 Print Edition

This year, of course, we mark the centenary of the beginning of the end. It was in July of 1914 that European civilization entered its final death throes, the last convulsions of which would not subside for more than thirty years. After that, not even the illusions remained. The great Western . . . . Continue Reading »

Emergence and Formation

From the November 2013 Print Edition

A few months ago, I began reading a book by the sociologist Christian Smith called What Is a Person?—concerning which, though it is very interesting, I have nothing of consequence to report just at the moment. I mention it here only because its early chapters reminded me of a topic upon which I . . . . Continue Reading »

Dante Decluttered

From the November 2013 Print Edition

The Divine Comedy  by dante alighieri  translated by clive james  liveright, 560 pages, $29.95 For me, the appearance of Dan Brown’s newest Robert Langdon novel, its dust jacket adorned with Dante’s flinty profile and a misappropriated title, poses a purely historical . . . . Continue Reading »

The True Helen

From the October 2013 Print Edition

That Helen never really eloped with Paris, that the Achaeans and the Trojans fought their great war over an ethereal eidolon conjured up by divine spite, and that the true Helen went instead to live in Egypt is a story known to most classical scholars from the expiatory Palinode of Stesichorus (c. . . . . Continue Reading »

Purpose and Function

From the Aug/Sept 2013 Print Edition

This is the last I shall write on this topic, I promise. I do not want to become morbidly fixated upon it, after all. But a few final observations have occurred to me. Some months ago, I admitted here that I find very little natural law theory persuasive, but granted that classical forms of the . . . . Continue Reading »

No Enduring City

From the Aug/Sept 2013 Print Edition

One of the temperamental advantages to be gained from a belief in divine providence is serenity in the face of history’s ambiguities. This may be one of the more subdued and unheroic expressions of faith, but for Christians trying to make moral sense of the story of Christendom—from its . . . . Continue Reading »

God, Gods, and Fairies

From the June/July 2013 Print Edition

One of the strangest claims often made by purveyors and consumers of today’s popular atheism is that disbelief in God involves no particular positive philosophy of reality, much less any kind of religion or creed, but consists merely in neutral incredulity toward a certain kind of factual . . . . Continue Reading »

From the May First Things: “Nature Loves to Hide”

From Web Exclusives

Two issues back, I spoke ill of a modern form of natural law theory that unsuccessfully attempts to translate an ancient tradition of moral reasoning into the incompatible language of secular reason. Because of an obscurity I allowed to slip into the fourth paragraph, several readers imagined that I was speaking in propria persona from that point on, rather than on behalf of a disenchanted modern rambling among the weed-thronged ruins; and some were dismayed… . Continue Reading »