Though mercy is a Christian virtue, our post-Christian society shies away from relying on it. Lenient criminal sentences, pardons, and debt forgiveness all seem to undercut the demands of justice and public safety. We now speak the language of rights, instead of mercy, to justify helping the needy. Social programs have displaced Christian charity, and generic do-gooder benevolence has supplanted mercy.
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Americans’ public and private lives are on a collision course. Our social systemthe one we publicly engage dailystill unwittingly encourages and rewards chaste behavior (though perhaps not speech). Privately, our lives bespeak an emerging chaos, regardless of what we personally hold to be good or true or ideal. In other words, American life is becoming sexually bipolar. Continue Reading »
Bruno Latour’s 1993 We Have Never Been Modern is a neglected masterpiece. Its argument is compressed, the terminology idiosyncratic. Latour is witty, ironic, and funniest when he’s outraged. It’s not an easy book, but it’s worth the effort. As a diagnosis of us “moderns,” it’s more penetrating, and rings truer, than many better-known works. Continue Reading »
I’m never more of a partisan than on election night. All my misgivings about the Republican Party dissolve and I become like a sports fan tabulating my team’s essential statistics. Then Wednesday arrives, and the spasm of partisan enthusiasm fades into a renewed realism. Continue Reading »
A certain Georgia Senate seat has a strange and revealing recent history. 2008 was the ultimate Democratic wave year, but the Georgia Senate seat remained in Republican control after a runoff election. 2014 is shaping up to be a Republican wave year, but Republicans are left hoping to retain that same Senate seat based on President Obama’s unpopularity. The Georgia Republicans have gone from being able to resist a Democratic wave to depending on a Republican wave. Much of this variance from national trends has to do with the particular weaknesses of Georgia’s businessman-turned-politician Republican candidate: David Perdue. Continue Reading »