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The Moral Economy of Guilt

From the May 2011 Print Edition

In his grand and gloomy book Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud identified the tenacious sense of guilt as “the most important problem in the development of civilization.” In fact, he continued, it seems that “the price we pay for our advance in civilization is a loss of . . . . Continue Reading »

Whig History at Eighty

From the March 2011 Print Edition

It is odd that in the many recent discussions about what it might mean to pursue a more self-consciously “Christian” approach to scholarship, debates that were given fresh urgency over a decade ago by George Marsden’s book The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship, the name of Herbert . . . . Continue Reading »

Keeping Time

From the June/July 2009 Print Edition

A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor New York Review Books, 112 pages, $12.95 paper One of the most memorable films of the decade was also one of the most countercultural: Philip Gröning’s 2005 Into Great Silence. This severely unadorned, unnarrated, and unsoundtracked documentary . . . . Continue Reading »

Mediating Institutions

From the April 2009 Print Edition

To Empower People: From State to Civil Society Twentieth Anniversary ­Edition by Richard John Neuhaus and Peter Berger American Enterprise Institute, 244 pages, $25 Because Richard John Neuhaus was so prolific, and his interests were so amazingly broad and diverse, even his most devoted . . . . Continue Reading »

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, and treat them as . . . . 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 to . . . . Continue Reading »