The Danger of Abstract Words

From Web Exclusives

We have a chronic problem in America with abstract words. We cannot do without them, since they are carriers of our highest ideals and aspirations: “justice,” “democracy,” “dignity,” “liberty.” But it is for precisely this reason that we should beware of them, . . . . Continue Reading »

Uncomfortable Unbelief

From the May 2008 Print Edition

A Secular Age by Charles Taylor Belknap, 896 pages, $39.95 Much about the new atheism that has emerged in the past few years seems tedious and overhyped. The worst of it, however, may be the sheer amount of cultural oxygen squandered on reenactments of old debates. Evidently a segment of the . . . . Continue Reading »

A Secular Age

From First Thoughts

I was puzzled by Charles Larmore’s review of Charles Taylor’s new book, A Secular Age , in the current New Republic . The book is sprawling and often maddening, but it is very important (I’ve tried to do it justice in my own review in the forthcoming issue of First Things ), and I . . . . Continue Reading »

Why Immanuel Kant

From First Thoughts

They say Americans don’t care about ideas. Well, that’s nonsense. We take ideas VERY seriously in this country. Where else would you see something like this? This campaign ad captures something of the same dilemma that one faces in the 2008 Presidential race. You can go along with the . . . . Continue Reading »

Why Conservatives Should Care About Cities

From Web Exclusives

It is not only conservatives but Americans in general who have had a hard time reconciling what they think of as characteristically American aspirations with the actual life of modern American cities. It’s a certain disharmony between the way we think and the way we live. Our fierce attachment . . . . Continue Reading »

A Man for All Reasons?

From Web Exclusives

Back in February, I received a phone call from the journalist Paul Elie. I knew his name from a book he published a few years ago, called The Life You Save May Be Your Own , an appealing effort that I reviewed favorably in First Things .He wanted to talk about an article, for the Atlantic Monthly , . . . . Continue Reading »

Sharing Chores?

From Web Exclusives

My suspicions were aroused when I saw a headline to a July 1 Associated Press story in the hometown paper , declaring “‘Sharing Chores’ Moves Up On Good-Marriage List.” This yawner of a finding was attributed to a Pew Research Center study just released on the . . . . Continue Reading »

McClay on Italians 2006

From Web Exclusives

There was a welcome report on Wednesday that Italy had stepped into the vacuum created by the balking French, offering to serve as the lead country in supplying troops to man the multinational Lebanese peacekeeping force. This act of Italian leadership (two words you don’t often see together) . . . . Continue Reading »

Christianity and American politics

From Web Exclusives

The Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., with which I am pleased to be affiliated, was founded in the 1970s in large measure to combat the perception that an intellectually and morally impoverished understanding of the dominant American religious traditions had rendered those . . . . Continue Reading »