Erasmus Before the Storm

Five hundred years ago this year, in February and March of 1516, a Swiss-German printer in Basel named Johann Froben published a volume of some 1,000 pages titled Novum Instrumentum Omne, “the whole New Testament.” This was the first officially published edition of the Greek New Testament, and . . . . Continue Reading »

The Passé Passes Again

The Republicans are reliving the Democratic Party's nightmares. The cancelled Donald Trump event of Friday March 11 seemed to presage 1968-style disruptions at political events, but 1968 might not be the right analogy. As the party of tired myth and exhausted agenda, the Republicans of 2016 most . . . . Continue Reading »

Terrence Malick's Openness to Life

Terrence Malick has baffled many of the film critics who once championed him. His detractors call his latest film, Knight of Cups, an “indecipherable mess” or “hard to parse.” A.O. Scott of the New York Times admired Malick’s Tree of Life, but now sounds as if he feels betrayed: “The deployment of beauty strikes me as more evasive than evocative.” Continue Reading »

A Sordid Anniversary, To Be Remembered

On September 24, 1949, Georgii Karpov, chairman of the agency that provided “liaison” to the Russian Orthodox Church for the NKVD, the Soviet secret police, wrote Josef Stalin and his chief henchmen a confidential letter reeking with self-congratulation. The “government’s instruction on the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Excess of Stephen H. Webb

In the fall of 2010, Stephen Webb challenged me to a footrace at Wabash College. I accepted. We lined up on a sidewalk crack. Before the signal came, Webb bolted off. As I ran to pass him, he pushed me into the road. He tried to grab my shirt to stop me from passing him again. He laughed with . . . . Continue Reading »

​By Any Other Name

“And the knowledge of names,” Socrates explains to Hermogenes in the Cratylus, “is a great part of knowledge.” An important concomitant of Cratylus’s naturalist account of naming that goes unnoticed in Plato’s dialogue but upon which Scripture fixes attention is that a change in nature seems to suggest, even demand, a change in name. Continue Reading »

Fatima

My first sustained interfaith dialogue was with Mary Jane, when we were both in eighth grade in a public school in a town near Albany, New York. I had a mild crush on Mary Jane, a very smart Italian Catholic. Our romance—in so far as it was carried on outside of school activities—consisted of . . . . Continue Reading »

Spotlight on Francis

When Spotlight, the critically acclaimed film about the Boston Globe’s investigation into clergy sexual abuse, won best picture at this year’s Oscars, producer Michael Sugar accepted the award with a message:This film gave a voice to survivors and this Oscar amplifies that voice which we hope . . . . Continue Reading »

Dignity v. Freedom

Justice Kennedy concluded his majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges with this summary: Gay couples “ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” “Dignity” appears several other times in the opinion. Prior to the twentieth century, Kennedy . . . . Continue Reading »