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Joseph Bottum is the former editor of First Things.

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Mandatory Chapel

From the November 2010 Print Edition

Add up the music conservatories and the seminaries, the enormous land-grant universities and the tiny Bible colleges, the Harvards and the would-be Harvards, the art institutes and the yeshivas, and there are over 4000 recognizable institutions of higher learning in the United States. It . . . . Continue Reading »

A Bit of Rome

From First Thoughts

Just clicked through to read about something mentioned earlier : A 55-square-foot apartment is on sale in Rome for just over $69,000. 55 square feet. That’s 5’ by 11’. I mean, sure, it’s on the Piazza di Sant’ Ignazio , but $69,000? I’d trust the story a little . . . . Continue Reading »

Why Mahler?

From First Thoughts

Every time I think I might be wrong about the essential meaningless of most music criticism, I read stuff like this—a catalog by Philip Kennicott of some of the idiocies he found in Norman Lebrecht’s new book Why Mahler?: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed Our World : Lebrecht is . . . . Continue Reading »

Defining Politics

From First Thoughts

Interesting Senate race in Connecticut, writes David Bernstein : One candidate’s adult life has been spent in a profession in which testosterone-infused alpha male types engage in well-choreographed bombast for the benefit of the credulous masses. And the other has spent her career in . . . . Continue Reading »

Religious Mysteries

From First Thoughts

Browsing an Agatha Christie anthology the other night, I reread for the first time in years the Poirot story “The Apples of the Hesperides,” which ends: In the little parlour of the Convent, Hercule Poirot told his story and restored the chalice to the Mother Superior. She murmured: . . . . Continue Reading »

How We Live Today

From Web Exclusives

Imagine an organization”a bowling league, say, formed by a group of people who get together simply because they like to bowl. And imagine that, over time, the demands and rewards of being the organizers of a bowling league begin to grow, particularly as the members are drawn into organizing leagues for other sports … Continue Reading »

Defining Thumbsucking Down

From First Thoughts

Just in case any of you teachers out there need a definition of “the rule of law,” the New York Times today explained , in a long thumb-sucking piece on the Tea Party, that it is “[F.A.] Hayek’s term for the unwritten code that prohibits the government from interfering with the . . . . Continue Reading »

A Uniter, Not a Divider

From First Thoughts

The (now-former) CNN personality Rick Sanchez will “be remembered as a uniter, bringing left and right together in shared amazement at his lunkheadedness.” Forget the politics for a minute. The line just has that kind of Web-perfect construction that keeps me reading online. . . . . Continue Reading »