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Lincoln’s Almost Chosen People

In his wonderful book Land of Lincoln, Andrew Ferguson recalls meeting an immigrant family from Thailand who ran a restaurant in Chicago just a few blocks from the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood where I grew up. This couple, Oscar Esche and his wife, had developed a passionate devotion to . . . . Continue Reading »


Lay Leadership Citing mass disenfranchisement in a “papal-episcopal oligarchy,” ­Bronwen McShea (“Bishops Unbound,” January) argues for institutional representation of “entire classes of lay and clerical members of the Church” currently “at the mercy of episcopal authority.” She . . . . Continue Reading »

Nuanced Patriotism

I love my country – I fear my government. I first saw that mantra as a bumper sticker in the Clinton nineties. It then began to sprout as billboards and rock-paintings in the Obama years, and it has now become the chorus to almost every song of complaint composed by American conservatives. It is . . . . Continue Reading »

Obama, Lincoln & Niebuhr

There are numerous defenders of President Obama’s prayer breakfast appeal for Christians to not “get on our high horse” about criticizing Islamic violence and to recall the Crusades, Inquisition and American racial segregation. 
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Neither Prudence Nor Courage

While campaigning for the Republican nomination in the Iowa senatorial race, Joni Ernst had called for the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency. When she was called on this claim in a general election debate, Ernst’s response was a mess that both praised the federal Clean Water Act and seemed to call for state-based environmental regulation. Conservative journalist Byron York observed that Ernst was “definitely not in control of the question.” Perhaps it might be better to say that Ernst was willing to be neither an Abraham Lincoln nor a Charles Sumner. Continue Reading »

LINCOLN: It’s Awesome

1. Wow. Impressive film-making at every level: casting and script particularly, but obviously on its game in every area. From at least the mid-90s to the present, the Hollywood establishment has been floundering, and partly because it really is guilty of some of the sins conservatives like John . . . . Continue Reading »

Happy Birthday to Lincoln

Here is a short excerpt of an address I’ll be delivering at Geneseo College devoted to Lincoln’s Bicentennial: Of course, the occasion for my lecture today is the Bicentennial celebration of Abraham’s Lincoln’s birth. It’s worth noting that today is also the bicentennial . . . . Continue Reading »

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