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It Is Enough

From the February 2022 Print Edition

The other day, I stumbled across a wonderful live recording of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier’s Tale), a small theater piece he wrote with the Swiss novelist Charles Ferdinand Ramuz at the end of World War I. I was suddenly flooded with memories of the elaborately . . . . Continue Reading »

Divine Micro-Climates

From the January 2022 Print Edition

The Baron de Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws (1748) has been among the most influential modern political treatises, not least in the United States. Montesquieu’s discussion of the “separation of powers” proved crucial for James Madison’s own constructive thinking about the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Praise of Color

From the December 2021 Print Edition

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is open again. One has to book an entry time so that the museum can control the (tiny) crowds during the time of the virus. It’s hardly a fight to get in. Architecturally redone not so long ago with a steady but meditative touch by Frank Gehry, the AGO houses small . . . . Continue Reading »

Dark Age Theology

From the November 2021 Print Edition

We are facing a Dark Age. In this new era, theology will need to be sparer, stripped of speculative distractions, courageously at home with death and the “other world,” and, most important, deeply engrossed in Scripture. Otherwise, the public face of the Christian faith will be washed away by . . . . Continue Reading »

The Tragic Atheist

From the October 2021 Print Edition

“I painted to be loved.” That is how the artist Francis Bacon (1909–1992) described his impulse to create. Bacon’s work came to be part of the canon of late twentieth-century British painting, hanging in major museums around the world. His brutal images of contorted bodies, slabs of meat, . . . . Continue Reading »

Just Here

From the Aug/Sept 2021 Print Edition

A young friend of mine recently fell victim to an unexpected and horrific illness. For some time, it seemed that he would certainly die; the progress of the disease led expectations relentlessly in that direction. Prayers (­including my own) for God’s mercy multiplied with a profound desperation. . . . . Continue Reading »

Tending the Borderlands

From the June/July 2021 Print Edition

“I shall search for a garden where I can retire, and renew my spirit during this time filled with divorces, plagues, epidemics, and those other tribulations with which our present moment is so troubled.” So begins one of the more remarkable sixteenth-century treatises, “The True Recipe” . . . . Continue Reading »

Brief Friends

From the May 2021 Print Edition

The sight of old men huddled around outdoor tables, drinking coffee with one another, is familiar. In Italy, Turkey, Tunis, Buenos Aires, even fading parts of New York City—what are they talking about, in crumpled jackets and faded caps? Mostly, according to my limited eavesdropping (and . . . . Continue Reading »

Music That Is Never Heard

From the April 2021 Print Edition

One of the most haunting images I know of comes from the last days of James ­Simon, a German Jewish composer who perished at Auschwitz. Having survived ­Theresienstadt, he and others were sent off to their final destination. Witnesses say that the last time they saw him, Simon was waiting for the . . . . Continue Reading »