The Trouble with Ayn Rand

From the May 2011 Print Edition

It is one of the most indelibly memorable scenes, and certainly the best twist ending, to have come out of the cinema of the 1960s: Charlton Heston riding his horse along the beach, Linda Harrison mounted behind him with her arms wrapped around his waist, both quite fetching in their late . . . . Continue Reading »

The Power of the Sword

From Web Exclusives

This was not the topic I wanted to write about today”Fridays should be days when nothing of importance is ever said”but sometimes one gets unexpectedly diverted. Just the day before yesterday, Joe Carter produced a column taking the bishops of Arizona to task for their recent denunciation of capital punishment as incompatible with the gospel, and arguing further not only that capital punishment is permissible from a Christian perspective, but that it is positively required by scripture… . Continue Reading »

Polite Discourtesy

From Web Exclusives

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column, “A Modest Proposal,” lamenting the Supreme Court’s Westboro Baptist Church decision, and making what seemed to me the obvious observation that it is a philosophical and historical confusion to imagine that the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech ever needed to be interpreted in so barbarically libertarian a fashion. Not that everyone would see it as obvious… . Continue Reading »

A Modest Proposal

From Web Exclusives

To me, the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of the Westboro Baptist Church barbarians was merely an illustration of a number of obvious facts about modern culture, and further evidence that between a regime of abstract liberties and a culture of real freedoms there is not only a distinction, but often an inevitable antagonism… . Continue Reading »

Whooshing Through Life

From the March 2011 Print Edition

All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age by hubert dreyfus and sean dorrance kelly free press, 272 pages, $26 It may seem like a trivial question, but I cannot help wondering whether the title of this book has been lifted from the closing lines of Terrence . . . . Continue Reading »

Golf and the Metaphysics of Morals

From Web Exclusives

So now that the NFL season has passed, leaving its customary trail of carnage behind, civilized followers of sport can turn their attention to the opening of spring training camps and the approach of that most glorious of the great terrestrial cycles, the baseball season. It was a satisfying Super Bowl for me, inasmuch as the Steelers lost … Continue Reading »

The Church of the East

From Web Exclusives

As you may be aware, several Christian churches in Kirkuk, Mosul, Basra, and Baghdad, as well as throughout the rest of Iraq, cancelled their festivities this past Christmas. Ever since the massacre of worshippers in Baghdad’s Church of Our Lady of Salvation last November … Continue Reading »

An Infinite Passion

From Web Exclusives

Atargatis, the “Syrian Goddess,” was a demanding mistress. For one thing, her priests (the galli) could win their way into her affections only by emasculating themselves. According to the De Dea Syria, attributed to Lucian of Samosata, any young man disposed to dedicate himself to her service in Hierapolis had to make this first and most extravagant oblation on one of her high holy days, in a fit of divine ecstasy … Continue Reading »

New Year’s Titanic Gods

From Web Exclusives

Since other writers on this site have already declared their indifference to or hostility towards New Year’s celebrations, I suppose I should avoid doing the same, if only for variety’s sake. The truth is, though, that my family never observed the day when I was growing up, and always made a point of going to bed well before midnight on New Year’s Eve… . Continue Reading »