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Pixelated Souls

The great liberal thinkers who devised our constitutional order were responding to a seventeenth-century problem, most sharply diagnosed by Thomas Hobbes. The English, Hobbes said, were “seeing double”—divided, both personally and politically, by conflicting allegiances to Christ and King. . . . . Continue Reading »

That Which Goeth Into the Mouth

If you yourself are not obliged to observe Kosher, or if you simply elect not to (only a minority of Jews actually do), you must have wondered from time to time: What’s the point? You can eat meat after dairy products, but you cannot consume dairy after meat? (And mixed together—a . . . . Continue Reading »

Breakfast at Kim's

If you arrive at Kim’s Diner before noon, your best option for breakfast is either the homemade biscuits with Texas-style white gravy or the pancakes-and-sausage plate. Lunch and dinner offerings are good, basic American food: grilled burgers and sandwiches half-wrapped in butcher paper so they . . . . Continue Reading »

Storming the Barricades

As the bicentennial of the United States Constitution was approaching in 1989, Michael Kammen published a book about its place in American culture—A Machine That Would Go of Itself. At the time, proud Americans passionately embraced their faith in the perfection of the country’s founding . . . . Continue Reading »

The Politics of Memory

In January 2020, the Socialist government of Spain, led by Pedro Sánchez, proposed a bill of profound cultural and political significance: a “Law of Historical and Democratic Memory.” If adopted, this law will bring to completion a twenty-year effort on the part of the Spanish left to limit . . . . Continue Reading »

Keeping the Faith

The more religiously committed parents are, the more they want their children to grow up believing and practicing the family’s religion. This is especially true of parents who are religiously traditionalist or conservative. The desire to pass on the faith to offspring in a world that does not seem . . . . Continue Reading »

Learning by Heart

In Darwin, Australia, sometime in 1958, an old man lay dying in hospital. He asked to see—of all people—the British writer ­Malcolm Muggeridge. They didn’t know each other, but ­Muggeridge was touring Australia and the old man had heard him on the radio. As ­Muggeridge recalled it, . . . . Continue Reading »

Brief Friends

The sight of old men huddled around outdoor tables, drinking coffee with one another, is familiar. In Italy, Turkey, Tunis, Buenos Aires, even fading parts of New York City—what are they talking about, in crumpled jackets and faded caps? Mostly, according to my limited eavesdropping (and . . . . Continue Reading »

Karl Barth

No theologian has exercised a greater influence on me than Karl Barth. I first encountered his work while I was a student at Haverford College. In those years, I was smitten with Carl Jung and Paul Tillich, who fed my growing interest in matters spiritual. But Barth did not traffic in the soft . . . . Continue Reading »

Briefly Noted

Charles Dickens, according to his son Henry, “never made a point of his religious convictions,” which were “very strong and deep.” They were also liberal and rather loose. Although he sometimes attended Anglican services and was well-versed in Scripture, Dickens was not interested in . . . . Continue Reading »

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