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Joseph Bottum is the former editor of First Things.

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The Muse in Brighton

From the March 1997 Print Edition

The beauty school on Brighton Lane spills pink-smocked girls at twelve o’clock. They blossom cigarettes and talk, pluck lilacs from the parish green and plant them in their hair for spring. But the bells of St. Columbkille’s clang and Brighton mourners dim the street, with roses on the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Shadow Man

From the November 1996 Print Edition

The Shadow Man: A Daughter’s Search for her Father By Mary Gordon Random House, 274 pages, $24 Every human situation, Epictetus once declared, is like a vase with two handles. If you have quarreled with your brother, you can grasp the handle which is the fact that you have quarreled, or grasp . . . . Continue Reading »

All That Lives Must Die

From the May 1996 Print Edition

Good Hamlet,” begs his mother at the audience’s first sight of the black-clothed prince, “cast thy nighted color off,” And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. Do not forever with thy lids Seek for thy noble father in the dust. Thou know’st ‘tis common; all that lives must die, . . . . Continue Reading »

Girard Among the Girardians

From the March 1996 Print Edition

Violence Unveiled By Gil Bailie Crossroad, 293 pages, $24.95 The Gospel and the Sacred By Robert G. Hamerton-Kelly Fortress, 175 pages, $14 paper The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred By James G. Williams Trinity, 288 pages, $16 paper The Sacred Game By Cesareo Bandera Pennsylvania State University . . . . Continue Reading »

Facing Up to Infanticide

From the February 1996 Print Edition

Every philosopher knows, at last, that not all ethical systems are equally good. We demand that a general ethics conform, as philosophers put it, to both truth and logic”which is to say, we demand that it not contradict the facts we hold about the universe and that it not contradict itself. And . . . . Continue Reading »

Spritely Ads

From the October 1995 Print Edition

There is a vague connection to vulgarity-there exists a tinge of logical association-when Calvin Klein advertises underwear by draping underclothed boys with girls who seem to tremble on the breathless edge of emphysema. Underwear suggests the body parts it covers, after all; those body parts . . . . Continue Reading »

The Big Think

From the June/July 1995 Print Edition

Part of the problem with the awful kind of augury performed by Alvin Toffler and the futurists is that it is heretical to any religion outside L. Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology, and part of the problem is that it is aesthetically vulgar, but most of the problem is that it is all so silly it . . . . Continue Reading »

A Suspicion of Snobbery

From the February 1995 Print Edition

We have in town a store where clerks in hushed and reverent tones sell breviaries and Bibles, Holy Cards and St. Christopher medals, rosaries and coffee-table books of photographic scenes of Rome, Assisi, and the Holy Land. On the walls, and all for sale, are photos of the Pope and JFK and Mother . . . . Continue Reading »