Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

In his latest On the Square column , David Bentley Hart considers the opposition between grammar “precriptivists” and “descriptivists”:

The prescriber believes clarity, precision, subtlety, nuance, and poetic richness need to be defended against the leveling drabness of mass culture; the describer believes words are primarily vehicles of communicative intention, whose “proper” connotations are communally determined. The one finds authority in the aristocratic and long-attested, the other finds it in the demotic and current. The one sees language as a precious cultural inheritance, the other sees it as the commonest social coin. The one worries about the continuity of literature, traditions, and the consensus of the learned; the other consults newspapers, daily transactions, and the consent of the people. For one, a word’s proper meaning must often be distinguished from its common use; for the other, they are identical.

Also today, Bryan Wandel on the benefits of being a Christian neurotic :
You have probably seen him before: the Evangelical Christian who is distraught over God’s will for his job change, or speaks too strongly one minute and desperately seeks reconciliation the next. Who pours his soul out at accountability groups, but finds it difficult to comfort his recently divorced friend.

American Evangelical Christians seem, at times, to be afflicted by neurosis. But it may not be such a bad thing.

Update: In our third feature, Gregory K. Laughlin examines the recent New York Times article on selective-reduction abortion :

The New York Times recently reported on the growing practice of parents expecting twins electively aborting one so as to give birth to only one of the two.

The article describes the situation of a woman, “Jenny,” who “was 45 and pregnant after six years of fertility bills, ovulation injections, donor eggs and disappointment—and yet here she was, 14 weeks into her pregnancy, choosing to extinguish one of two healthy fetuses, almost as if having half an abortion.”



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles