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 »

A Perfect Game

From the Aug/Sept 2010 Print Edition

In his later philosophy, Heidegger liked to indulge in eccentric etymologies because he was certain that there are truths deeply hidden in language. It is one of the more beguilingly magical aspects of his thought and therefore—to my mind—one of the more convincing. Consider, for instance, the . . . . Continue Reading »

Believe It or Not

From the May 2010 Print Edition

I think I am very close to concluding that this whole “New Atheism” movement is only a passing fad—not the cultural watershed its purveyors imagine it to be, but simply one of those occasional and inexplicable marketing vogues that inevitably go the way of pet rocks, disco, . . . . Continue Reading »

Six Years in Tibet

From the April 2010 Print Edition

Jesuit on the Roof of the World: Ippolito Desideri’s Mission to Tibet by Trent Pomplun Oxford, 320 pages, $29.95 How many of history’s most fascinating tales go untold for want of the right teller, I wonder. There are some events that can be appreciated, or in fact even noticed, only by . . . . Continue Reading »

The Sanest of Men

From Web Exclusives

We are now a few weeks into the Chinese New Year (a year of the Tiger, elementally specified as metal, metaphysically specified as yang), and this seems a fairly auspicious time to pay tribute to one of my favorite of Chinese culture’s immortals … Continue Reading »

Haiti’s Devils

From Web Exclusives

The ever slightly oafish Pat Robertson (you remember him: that fine Christian gentleman who just a few years ago defended China’s infanticidal one-child policy, lest he imperil his own lucrative business relations with the PRC by publically criticizing the regime) has opined that the earthquake in Haiti is only the most recent result of a curse that the nation contracted back in the days of Toussaint Louverture, when “they” (that is, apparently, all the Haitians and their posterity) conducted a ceremony in which “they” made a deal with the devil, promising him their allegiance in exchange for liberation from the French… . Continue Reading »

Tsunami and Theodicy: Haiti

From Web Exclusives

(Tens of thousands of Haitians have already died in the wake of the devastating earthquake on Tuesday, and tens of thousands more are threatened by disease and a lack of food and clean water. We thought this would be an appropriate moment to revisit David B. Hart’s essay from the March 2005 issue of First Things, written in light of the tsunami that devastated the South Asian coastline in December 2004.) Continue Reading »

The Dawkins Evolution

From the January 2010 Print Edition

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins Free Press, 480 pages, $30 The first lesson to be learned from Richard Dawkins’ new book is a purely practical maxim: One should always do what one does best, while scrupulously avoiding those tasks for which neither nature . . . . Continue Reading »


From Web Exclusives

This is, in a sense, a footnote or an addendum to a column I wrote a few months ago for First Things Online called “The Gnostic Turn.” For my sins, I suppose, I subjected myself last week to all six hours (counting commercials) of the AMC/ITV attempted remake of the late 1960s television series The Prisoner. To persons d’un certain âge there should be little need to explain what the original series was. Somewhat dated in some of its features now, perhaps, and not to everyone’s taste, it was probably”at its best”the most perfectly realized fantasy ever to appear within the deadening confines of episodic television drama… . Continue Reading »