The Abbot and Aunt Susie

From Web Exclusives

In the August/September issue of First Things , Matthew Milliner gave a delightful account of his visit to the Eastern Orthodox Monastery of St Anthony in Arizona’s Sonora Desert. At least, I quite enjoyed it”though, truth be told, I would have enjoyed it considerably more had it not included a brief exchange Milliner had with the monastery’s abbot … Continue Reading »


From Web Exclusives

The only thing I know that J.R.R. Tolkien and Salvador Dalí had in common—or rather, I suppose I should say, the only significant or unexpected thing, since they obviously had all sorts of other things in common: they were male, bipedal, human, rough contemporaries, celebrities, and so on—was that each man on at least one occasion said he was drawn simultaneously towards anarchism and monarchism… . Continue Reading »

The Mysterious Stranger

From the November 2010 Print Edition

Autobiography of Mark Twain: The Complete and Authoritative Edition, Volume 1 Edited by Harriet Elinor Smith et al. University of California, 743 pages, $34.95 This is the first volume of three in the exhaustive and unexpurgated edition of Mark Twain’s autobiographical papers. I phrase it that . . . . Continue Reading »

Charity and Patriotism: Further Reflections

From Web Exclusives

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column in which I took exception”humorously, I thought”to the popular American conceit of describing ours as the “greatest nation on Earth” (I proposed Bhutan as a worthier claimant to that title, though I had also toyed with arguing the case for Norway, New Zealand, or Fiji)… . Continue Reading »

The Greatest Nation on Earth

From Web Exclusives

My remotest ancestors on this continent settled in Maryland in 1634, as titled freeholders under the sheltering canopy of a royal charter. I do not come from hardy immigrants who set out from their native soils to make a desperate crossing in steerage to a distant, near-mythical land of limitless possibility called “America.” … Continue Reading »

The Appeal of a World Scattered and Scorched

From Web Exclusives

King K’inich Kan Bahlum II reigned in Baalak from 685 AD to 702 AD. Like his father, the great K’inich Janaab Pakal, he was responsible for many of the most glorious architectural and artistic achievements of Mayan civilization’s “classical period;” it was he who oversaw the completion of the great pyramidal Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque, on one of whose walls he left a legend predicting that his dynasty would last until 21 October 4772… . Continue Reading »

Mysteries of Consciousness

From Web Exclusives

I was fairly close to both Angela and Jacob throughout our teens; at least, we were all part of the same circle. I briefly entertained the hope of something closer between Angela and myself, and for a few weeks she was more or less my girlfriend; but Jacob “swept her off her feet,” and they were at one school and I at another, so I had no chance. It made no difference to our friendship, though… . Continue Reading »

Julian Our Contemporary

From Web Exclusives

When he died from a spear wound in June 363 AD, while on campaign in Persia, the Emperor Julian was only thirty-two years old. His reign as Augustus had lasted just nineteen months. His great project to restore the ancient faith of the “Hellenes” and to turn back the inexorable advance of the “Galilean” religion perished with him … Continue Reading »