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Living with a Mind

I was brought up in a culture that made no special place for the “intellectual” as a distinct human type, and which regarded learning in the same way as any other hobby: harmless and excusable, so long as you kept quiet about it. The person who studied the classics at home, who wrote poetry . . . . Continue Reading »

Baylor at the Crossroads

I joined Baylor University’s faculty in July 2003 after a brief stint as a Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program at Princeton. What drew me to Baylor is what has attracted, and continues to attract, hundreds of other prospective faculty members: the ideals and goals of the school’s . . . . Continue Reading »

When Teachers Don't Matter

It is only 2 p.m. on a mild afternoon in February, but the hallways are quiet and dim. Dozens of students stroll and chatter and text on the quad outside, but here in the Humanities Building at UCLA, the air is still. It’s a pleasing brick structure in the Romanesque Revival style, four stories . . . . Continue Reading »

A Woman in the Seminary

I recently went to a vespers service at the institute of Catholic higher learning that I attend, celebrated in honor of the school’s outgoing president. When it came time for the honoree to give some remarks, he said, “All students, could you please stand.” The seemingly innocuous request . . . . Continue Reading »

The Derridean Echo

When I read this story on the University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion asking students and teachers to stop imposing gendered pronouns on one another, I didn’t think about the silliness of trying to create linguistic change by bureaucratic fiat. Or about one more exercise in . . . . Continue Reading »

The Perils of “Preferred Peers”

On Catholic campuses that aspire to Top Ten or Top Twenty status in publicity sweepstakes like the U.S. News and World Report college rankings, one sometimes hears the phrase “preferred peers.” Translated into plain English from faux-sociologese, that means the schools to which we’d like to be compared (and be ranked with). At a major Catholic institution like the University of Notre Dame, for example, administrators use the term “preferred peers” to refer to universities like Duke, Stanford, and Princeton, suggesting that these are the benchmarks by which Notre Dame measures its own aspirations to excellence. Continue Reading »

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