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Reason Enraptured

From the April 2013 Print Edition

Anyone who tries to evaluate the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar faces not only the sheer size of his work and his vast erudition but his great subtlety. To add to these difficulties, what he says in one book or passage he will often balance and qualify later on, even in the same book, and he . . . . Continue Reading »


From Web Exclusives

In the February 2013 issue of The New Criterion, James Bowman, media critic for that indispensable periodical, comments on a media scandal currently brewing in Great Britain. The trouble is, most of the panjandrums in the London press don’t regard it as a media scandal at all. To them the blow-up started off as a political scandal and transmogrified into a police scandal”but, since few people on this side of the Atlantic have ever heard of these goings-on, I must first describe the events in question… . Continue Reading »

Robert Bellarmine vs. Thomas Aquinas

From First Thoughts

The Latin rite of the Catholic Church is today celebrating the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), a Renaissance Jesuit and cardinal, who most notoriously was one of the Inquisitors who condemned Giordano Bruno to be burned at the stake in 1600 and was involved in the first summoning of . . . . Continue Reading »

A Baltimore Catechism for the New Atheists

From Web Exclusives

One of the more striking differences between the New Atheists and, say, Freud or Nietzsche is the willingness of the former to engage natural theology on its own terms. Not that they get very far in their clumsy forays”it’s all pretty halfhearted and amateurish stuff, indeed sometimes wincingly embarrassing… . Continue Reading »

The Zeal Christ Requires

From Web Exclusives

I recently read a review of a book about Margaret Thatcher which argued that: “Thatcher… . wanted to restore the balance of virtues in Britain away from current sentimentalities such as compassion and toward the ‘vigorous virtues’ of courage and enterprise.” What struck me about the remark is that virtues can become their own enemies unless they are counterbalanced with other virtues… . Continue Reading »

Bell’s Present Heaven

From the October 2011 Print Edition

Explicit confession of the Lordship of Jesus is not necessary for salvation, at least under certain circumstances”very wide circumstances, it turns out”says Rob Bell in his Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived . Despite writing as if he is . . . . Continue Reading »

Coercive Liberalism

From Web Exclusives

Whenever secular liberals are challenged on one of their latest innovations in ethics, their reply almost invariably goes something like this: “Well, if you are opposed to same-sex marriage, then marry someone of the opposite sex.” Or: “If you are so against abortion, then don’t have one.” In other words, in the immortal words of Rodney King, why can’t we all just get along? I’ll let you have your morality if you let me have mine… . Continue Reading »

A Review of Mad World

From the April 2011 Print Edition

Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead by Paula Byrne Harper, 368 pp. $25.99 Evelyn Waugh opened his most famous novel Brideshead Revisited with this monitory epigram: “I am not I: thou art not he or she: they are not they.” Well, maybe. Paula Byrne, anyway, begs to differ. . . . . Continue Reading »

Newman’s Ideal University

From the March 2011 Print Edition

Imagine you’ve just read Plato’s Republic and then—conscientious citizen that you’ve now become—you enter a Chicago voting booth on election day and scan the list of candidates. Anyone who reads John Henry Newman’s The Idea of a University, published in 1852, and then ventures into the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Explanatory Sprawl of Natural Selection

From Web Exclusives

Too many lazy authors take the principle of natural selection out of biology, where it belongs, and then apply it outside its proper sphere in ways that can only be regarded as completely preposterous. No, this is not another article on evolution, still less an attack on it. Provided that that unfortunately loose term evolution means strictly “descent with modification,” it hardly seems possible to deny it without denying the findings of genetics. Of course controversy still rages about how genuinely explanatory the term natural selection is inside the undisputed reality of evolutionary biology… . Continue Reading »