Advice to Young Scholars

From First Thoughts

Advice to young scholars and, especially, to aspiring public intellectuals: Although it is natural and, in itself, good to desire and even seek affirmation, do not fall in love with applause. It is a drug. When you get some of it, you crave more. It can easily deflect you from your mission and . . . . Continue Reading »

The Courage to Stand for Principle

From First Thoughts

Bravo to Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana for vetoing a gestational surrogacy bill passed by the state legislature. Fighting infertility is good. Promoting the adoption of children in need of parents is good. But gestational surrogacy is bad—bad for children, bad for women, bad for the community. There are better ways. If you doubt that (or even if you don’t), please see the documentary film “Breeders: A Subclass of Women” by the great Jennifer Lahl. Anyway, Jindal did the right thing and demonstrated that he is someone who possesses the courage—rare among politicians—to stand for principle.Wouldn’t you love to see that quality in a President? Continue Reading »

What Have We Done to Our Young Men and Women?

From First Thoughts

Philadelphia Magazine has published a story about my beloved alma mater Swarthmore College that is so depressing I could almost not bear to read it. What it reveals about the sexual anarchy of campus culture is, however, by no means unique to Swarthmore. My students at Princeton and Harvard describe the same culture at those institutions. I suspect that it exists at all institutions, save, perhaps, the comparatively few which have maintained strong religious identities. It is unfathomably sad. Continue Reading »

So You Believe in “Marriage Equality”? Why Not For throuples?

From First Thoughts

The story of a female throuple in Massachusetts (with a baby on the way) provides further confirmation, as if any were needed, of the proposition that “ideas have consequences.” Once one has abandoned belief in marriage as a conjugal bond (with its central structuring norm of sexual complementarity) in favor of a concept of “marriage” as a form of sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership (“love makes a family”), then what possible principle could be identified for a norm “restricting” marriage to two-person partnerships, as opposed to polyamorous sexual ensembles of three or more persons? Continue Reading »

What Mozilla Means

From First Thoughts

Mozilla has now made its employment policy clear.No Catholics need apply.Or Evangelical Christians.Or Eastern Orthodox.Or Orthodox Jews.Or Mormons.Or Muslims.Unless, that is, you are the “right kind” of Catholic, Evangelical, Eastern Orthodox Christian, observant Jew, Mormon, or Muslim, . . . . Continue Reading »

Here Comes Everybody

From First Thoughts

Those of us who are Catholics have had a rough few years. Well, make that a rough few decades. Horrific abuse scandals. Some weak, sometimes feckless, bishops. Wacky theologians. Boring homilies. Dreadful music. Widespread dissent, often rooted in appalling ignorance. I could go on. We envy our . . . . Continue Reading »

A Tribute to the Humble Hamentaschen

From Web Exclusives

Remarks delivered at Princeton University’s 2014 Annual Latke-Hamentaschen Debate. Our semi-official second national motto is e pluribus unum, famously mistranslated by Sarah Palin as “out of one, many,” but correctly translated as precisely the reverse: “out of many, . . . . Continue Reading »