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Holy Fear

On at least two occasions, my father found himself in public showdowns with Mad Max, an itinerant “Turn or Burn!” preacher who loved to make a spectacle of himself on college campuses by fulminating over Led Zeppelin T-shirts (“Satanists!”), women in shorts (“Whores!”) and men with their . . . . Continue Reading »

Ensnared in the Web

About ten years ago, I acquired a deep suspicion of smartphones and social media. Riding a late-night L Train back to my Brooklyn apartment, I looked up from my book and observed about a dozen fellow riders, all in their twenties or early thirties, all hunched over, the blue light of their handhelds . . . . Continue Reading »

Hope Among the Ruins

These days, it seems, my friends fall into two groups: The Red Hots and the Blue Birds. The Red Hots are the angry sort. They stand, like fly fishermen, knee-deep in the torrent of news stories washing over us, angling for the latest catch to feed their appetite for outrage. They don’t just get . . . . Continue Reading »

Defeating the Equity Regime

It is useless, for now, to predict where the six-justice conservative majority on the Supreme Court may be heading. But one possibility is worth noting: If the majority holds firm on just a handful of constitutional questions, it can decisively defeat what I call the coercive equity regime. The . . . . Continue Reading »

The Politics of Unhappiness

A traffic jam, a shoe that ­pinches: It takes very little to ­ruin a nice day. Nothing can please you then, and your judgment is affected. At first glance, ­unpleasantness and the resulting peevishness have no political or economic significance. These experiences are commonplace, part of the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Bottom Line

There are two facts of my life that my grandchildren used to tell their friends with pride. One is that in the year 2000, as part of my application to become a Canadian citizen, I secured a letter from the sheriff of Henrico County, Virginia, attesting that I did not have a criminal record. My . . . . Continue Reading »

Christian Realism About Ukraine

That we should grieve for the people of Ukraine is unquestionable. The boot of their powerful Russian neighbor is on their necks. That we should condemn Moscow’s aggression while cheering the courage of Ukrainian soldiers and the determination of that aggrieved nation’s leaders is also . . . . Continue Reading »

J’Accuse

Bad reviews killed the poet Keats, so the story goes. Even though the tale has been debunked, it remains popularly repeated. We enjoy the éclat of unjust criticism, especially of the famous, even as we relish pitying the weakness of the oversensitive. The great film director Akira . . . . Continue Reading »

Mary

The kingdom of heaven is likea hummingbird nest, the luckiestcup of air to hold a breastof solitude, but no, not luck but the bitter work of a long beak.Not work, but a thousand grassesof kisses. This is time collapsedto an empty watch after a week building, sewn and lined with down,and feathers, a . . . . Continue Reading »

On the Threshold: Part III

Now it was Lent, and we were just forty days from Easter. Heavy rains and rising temperatures washed the snow away, and on Ash Wednesday, when I drove to the church, the sky was crowded with clouds seemingly blowing on different winds—heavy cumulus clouds, and behind and between them lighter . . . . Continue Reading »

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