The Real Problem with Bishops

This just in: It turns out that the problem with America’s Catholic bishops is that they’re not Protestants. Or so we can reasonably surmise from Amy Sullivan’s recent Time /CNN commentary on the plight of Catholic Democrats, titled “Does [Sen. Joseph] Biden have a Catholic . . . . Continue Reading »

T.S. Eliot on Religion without Humanism

I recently needed to track down a reference in a long out-of-print anthology called Humanism and America: Essays on the Outlook of Modern Civilization , published back in 1930. Having got my citation, I was going to return the book when I caught sight, in the table of contents, of a contribution . . . . Continue Reading »

Me and YouTube

I’m not a heavy user of the Web. But sometimes I get a few odd words of an old song or fragments of a melody stuck in my head. I fire up the computer, go to YouTube, type this or that into the search field, and presto, I’m listening to a recording of a half-forgotten song that until only . . . . Continue Reading »

The October 2008 Issue Is Here!

The October issue of First Things has arrived¯a big-tent issue, a three-ring extravaganza of essays, poems, letters, and reviews.Under the big top, for instance, Richard John Neuhaus looks back at the Second Vatican Council. In his essay-length review of two new books¯John W. . . . . Continue Reading »

Misreading Cardinal George

My friend and former colleague, Prof. Douglas Kmiec, opened his September 9, 2008 Chicago Tribune op-ed (“How Catholics can oppose abortion, back Obama”) with an endearing expression of respect for Chicago’s cardinal archbishop, Francis George. He then continued with his ongoing, . . . . Continue Reading »

A New Order of Religious Freedom

“Oh look, the sun is rising again.” Most of us manage to contain our surprise. As predictable as the rising of the sun is the emergence of religion in our political contests¯and the feigned surprise of much of our political class. Or maybe the surprise is not feigned. For some it is a . . . . Continue Reading »

On the Edge of Discovery

As many of you know, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) turned on yesterday in Geneva. So maybe I should say a little about it, since this is the kind of physics I do for a living. The LHC is a very big deal for physics. It is likely to make the first major breakthrough in particle physics in over . . . . Continue Reading »

Apophatic Beauty

In 1948, the abstract artist Barnett Newman wrote, “The impulse of modern art was to destroy beauty.” One among many impulses of recent art has been to piece it together again. It is a beleaguered movement, but promoted by a wide range of figures, from democratic populist Dave Hickey to . . . . Continue Reading »

Putting Politics in its Place

I’m very thankful that I don’t have a television. We’re heading into the final months of the presidential election, and maybe I’ll be spared the demoralizing experience of so much stupidity conveyed with such seriousness. You know the routine. The news anchor asks, “Jim, did . . . . Continue Reading »