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

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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

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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

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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 »