The Offense of Piety

The intemperate, even violent tone in recent criticisms of faith is quite striking. Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens: They seem an agitated crew, quick to caricature, quick to denounce, quick to slash away at what they take to be the delusions and conceits of faith. And the phenomenon is not strictly . . . . Continue Reading »

Hannah Montana

Even if you go around with one or several fingers stuffed into each ear, you will not be able to exclude the words “Hannah Montana” from your field of consciousness, especially now that the number one movie in the United States bears that name. No American citizen is permitted to be . . . . Continue Reading »

Reason and Pop Atheism

The publishing world, it seems, is just as prone to the fickleness of trends and fashions as is, well, the fashion industry. A few years ago, a whole spate of books came out on Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust, most of them flogging (surely not by coincidence) the same dead horse of papal perfidy. . . . . Continue Reading »

Jane Austen and Park Honan

I don’t have the computer skills, let alone the patience, to set up my own blogsite. So I am especially grateful to the editors of First Things for their ecumenical hospitality in opening their cyber-pages to voices other than their own during this month of August. In my first foray into this . . . . Continue Reading »

Of Time and the River

Of Time and the River I love the way the river rollicks here, and how it sluices headlong down the hill to hurtle through these spruces in a thrill of spray. Up-slope, beneath the glacier’s sheer façade, this melt of snow that fell the year the earth was made emerges as a rill; then, far . . . . Continue Reading »

Films of the Spirit

It is a truth seldom acknowledged that the most delightful art is also the most didactic. Jane Austen comes readily to mind, as does the best of children’s literature. Supposed counterexamples only prove the rule. Oscar Wilde is celebrated for his dictum that “bad art is always sincere,” but . . . . Continue Reading »

Infanticide for Beginners

It was the issue of abortion that taught me to be suspicious of the word “reform.” It was the early 1960s and all right-minded people were in favor of “abortion reform.” I assumed I should be too until it gradually dawned on me, slow learner that I was, that people speaking of abortion . . . . Continue Reading »

Abortion Facts and Feelings

The story is told of a young student from an exotic place, a colonial dependency of Britain, who was suddenly delivered to Oxford University. The word soon got about that the tradition of cannibalism had not been perfectly extinguished in this young man's tribe, and a certain concern was registered, . . . . Continue Reading »