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The Weight of Smut

From the June/July 2010 Print Edition

As the impressively depressing cover story “America the Obese” in the May issue of The Atlantic serves to remind us all, the weight-gain epidemic in the United States and the rest of the West is indeed widespread, deleterious, and unhealthy—which is why it is so frequently remarked on, and an . . . . Continue Reading »

The Loser Letters

From Web Exclusives

I hope you guys all know that it’s a bit daunting having this much expert firepower trained on my little book“kind of like having the National Symphony Orchestra sit in on a first grader’s piano recital. I can only hope that if in the course of the book, or this talk, I commit any literary sins of the theological variety, all the eminent religious leader here will just do the obvious Christian thing”and keep quiet about them. Remember, it’s Lent… . Continue Reading »

Christianity Lite

From the February 2010 Print Edition

Once in a while comes an historical event so momentous, so packed with unexpected force, that it acts like a large wave under still water, propelling us momentarily up from the surface of our times onto a crest, where the wider movements of history may be glimpsed better than before. Such an event . . . . Continue Reading »

Karen Novak, 1938–2009

From the November 2009 Print Edition

I almost emailed Karen today. It’s just part of how we live now, that electronic tic. There was a story I wanted to tell her, a small knot of thought that had been nagging for weeks and finally had gotten untied in a way that I thought would amuse her. So I tapped the key that would bring up . . . . Continue Reading »

What Does Woman Want?

From the October 2009 Print Edition

For a few interesting weeks this summer”­catapulted by romantic melodramas with a wide cast of characters, including Republican politicians and popular reality-show parents Jon and Kate”the question of opposite-sex marriage and its own meaning momentarily took center stage. Just . . . . Continue Reading »

Pro-Animal, Pro-Life

From the June/July 2009 Print Edition

Why aren’t vegetarians and pro-lifers more closely aligned? After all, the best writing about ethical vegetarianism—the moral case for refusing meat, as opposed to the more self-interested arguments from health or financeis good enough to provoke serious reflection, even among nonvegetarians. . . . . Continue Reading »

The Will to Disbelieve

From the February 2009 Print Edition

Imagine for a moment that much of the world is living under a set of ideas that has manifestly awful economic, social, and moral consequences. Imagine, in fact, that one of the most obvious things about the world is the negative impact of those ideas on the people who live under them”which is . . . . Continue Reading »