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What We've Been Reading—2.26.16

Not enough has been said about how Pope Francis—a man of strong intuitions and vivid language—lives in and has been formed by literature. He regularly cites and recommends imaginative works like José Hernández’s Martín Fierro, Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World, and Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed. And he thinks by their patterns. Whereas Benedict strove for a concise, clear scholarly expression, Francis seeks the striking images and strong characterizations of the storyteller. Over here are the good guys, over there the bad. Continue Reading »

Forgetting Social Justice

Last week at First Things we were very happy to host Michael Novak and Paul Adams as they discussed their new book on social justice. One of the themes Novak and Adams touched on in their presentations was how poorly Americans today seem to understand the concept of social justice. On both left and . . . . Continue Reading »

Shortcircuiting Consensus

A political system, along with such supportive traditions as the rule of law and loyal opposition, is supposed to be a durable fixture on the political landscape and ought not to be changed lightly. It should be amended only when a favorable consensus can be achieved, and if that consensus is not forthcoming, then the constitution remains as it is. Continue Reading »

The Future of Democratic Capitalism

In the eighteenth century, a host of thinkers began to use the compound term “political economy” to refer to the traditional subject matter of politics. Both parts are needed to express the complex social system necessary to human liberty and flourishing. For human liberty and human flourishing . . . . Continue Reading »

Selma and Humane Democracy

Over the weekend, President Obama and other national leaders traveled to Selma, Alabama to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the march on Selma. The events of that day in particular, and of the Civil Rights movement in general, remind us of an important truth: Religion and politics do go together—a democratic version of the latter cannot be sustained without the former. Continue Reading »

The Conservative Road to Serfdom?

George Will argues that American politics is divided between conservatives, “who take their bearings from the individual’s right to a capacious, indeed indefinite, realm of freedom” and progressives “whose fundamental value is the right of the majority to have its way in making rules about which specified liberties shall be respected.” For Will, real conservatives favor an activist judiciary that will aggressively defend our “capacious, indeed indefinite realm of freedom” from the majority. Continue Reading »

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