Döllinger’s Unquiet Grave

The Pope and the Professor:  Pius IX, Ignaz von Döllinger, and the Quandary of the Modern Age by thomas howardoxford, 312 pages, $45 John Henry Newman aside, Ignaz von Döllinger (1799–1890) was the greatest Catholic theologian of the nineteenth century. He came of age amid a golden . . . . Continue Reading »

He Went There

He was not a refugee, not an immigrant, not a displaced person. Or, rather: yes and no. When he and I became close friends, he once said to me: “Sometimes Americans ask, ‘When did you come to this country?’ I did not come to America; I went there.” And if he was asked . . . . Continue Reading »

Luther at 500

It all did start with the ninety-five theses, in a sense. Luther probably did not actually nail them to the church door—at least no one at the time tells us so. And if he did, it was not in anger or protest against the church. He was trying to arrange an academic discussion, and evidently . . . . Continue Reading »

An Integrated Humanist

John Senior and the Restoration of Realismby francis bethel, o.s.b.thomas more, 452 pages, $34.99 H igher education has survived the end of the American century, if just barely. American colleges and universities are like a naval mothball fleet that’s still afloat but not seaworthy. Some schools . . . . Continue Reading »

By Starlight Undiminished

On behalf of the Second Continental Congress in declaring America’s independence, Jefferson in the first paragraph of the Declaration drew upon authority greater than the Crown, the British Empire, and the long traditions of English law and government. “With a firm Reliance on the protection of . . . . Continue Reading »

Shock of the Real

Journey to the Land of the Real:  A Translation of Equipée by victor segalen translated by natasha lehrer atlas, 136 pages, $17.20 The death of Victor Segalen (January 14, 1878–May 21, 1919) was perhaps an enviable one. This is not to say that it was not also tragic: He was still quite . . . . Continue Reading »

The Iron Law of Shortsightedness

Climate activists argue that the effects of climate change are too immense to be remedied by individual actions, no matter how heroic. The Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh agrees. His engaging new book The Great Derangement warns against framing climate change as a “moral issue.” Not only . . . . Continue Reading »

The Necessity of Judgment

Montaigne: A Lifeby philippe desantranslated by steven rendall and lisa nealprinceton, 832 pages, $39.95 When faced with a biography that could as well stop a door as fill a shelf, one’s first question is always, “Does the subject merit this exhaustive treatment?” There are a few historical . . . . Continue Reading »

Waugh on the Merits

Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisitedby philip eadehenry holt, 432 pages, $32 Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh was born in 1903 to upper-middle-class Anglicans who lived in a suburb of London. He attended a boarding secondary school (Lancing College), read history at Oxford, published his first book (a . . . . Continue Reading »

The Splendor of Truth in 2017

There are times when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight.” Those are strong words, written by the Czech activist Václav Havel in his essay “The Power of the Powerless,” one of the . . . . Continue Reading »