Briefly Noted

On the Road to Vatican II: German Catholic Enlightenment and Reform of the Churchby ulrich l. lehnerfortress, 414 pages, $49 On the Road to Vatican II focuses on German and ­Austrian theological debates in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as examples of the Catholic Enlightenment. Historians . . . . Continue Reading »

Back to Work

In 1974, the year I turned nineteen, I took my first real job in the goods store of a railway station in County Mayo, in the west of Ireland. I was pleased to be off my parents’ hands, but uneasy in my position. The tiny goods office was an anthill of activity, with a constant flow of locomotive . . . . Continue Reading »

Liberal Ressentiment

Age of Anger: A History of the Presentby pankaj mishrafarrar, straus and giroux, 320 pages, $26 Despite the subtitle of his book, Pankaj Mishra is not interested in understanding the past or the present. His aim, instead, is to dispose of those who voted for Trump, Brexit, Netanyahu, or Modi, . . . . Continue Reading »

Paradise Possible

When exactly did utopia become less interesting than dystopia? The vision of a grim and gray future is just as much a fantasy as that of a perfectly ordered society, but somehow it is the grim one that now captures our attention. The descriptions of a glistening City of the Sun or a New Atlantis . . . . Continue Reading »

From What Is Left Over

Nearly a decade ago, I had the privilege of attending a lecture by Pope Benedict, “The Roots of European Culture.” He developed his theme through a discussion of medieval monasticism. The elite of the Parisian intelligentsia was in attendance, and their bewilderment was obvious. What was the . . . . Continue Reading »