Si Fueris Romae

From the April 2013 Print Edition

In 1919, Davidson Black—today chiefly remembered as a colleague of Teilhard de Chardin—was made a professor in the Peking Union Medical College, an institution principally endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation. His American benefactors had given him his post with the strict stipulation that he . . . . Continue Reading »

Japan's Epic

From the April 2013 Print Edition

The Tale of the Heike Translated by Royall Tyler Viking, 784 pages, $50 If you have ever read Lafcadio Hearn’s collection of Japanese tales Kwaidan , or seen Masaki Kobayashi’s brilliant film from 1965, you will recall “The Story of Mimi-nashi-Hōïchi,” which tells the tale of a blind biwa . . . . Continue Reading »

Seeing the God

From the February 2013 Print Edition

For the first ten of its eleven chapters, the Metamorphosis or Golden Ass of Apuleius (c. 125-c. 180) seems to be nothing more than a diverting, frequently ribald burlesque; but then, in the closing pages, the tone entirely changes, and all at once the farce gives way to one of the loveliest and . . . . Continue Reading »

The Long March Ahead

From the January 2013 Print Edition

I rarely talk politics, not because I have none, but because mine are too eccentric to appeal to anyone other than myself and a few equally peregrine souls, and because my pessimism regarding political institutions is often so bitterly bleak that it annoys even me. After the 2008 election, for . . . . Continue Reading »

God and the Mad Hatter

From the December 2012 Print Edition

Materialism, being a fairly coarse superstition, tends to render its adherents susceptible to a great many utterly fantastic notions. All that is needed to make even the most outlandish theory seem plausible to the truly doctrinaire materialist is that it come wrapped in the appurtenances of . . . . Continue Reading »

Therapeutic Superstition

From the November 2012 Print Edition

Some years ago, when I was nineteen and living in the north of England, I knew a middle-aged man named Reuben who claimed to be visited by angels, to receive visions and auditions from God, to see and converse with the spirits of nature, and to be able to intuit the spiritual complaints of nearly . . . . Continue Reading »