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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 »

Homo Amazonicus

For religious conservatives, Alec MacGillis’s Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America is one of the most important books to appear in quite some time. That may sound like an odd claim. As his title suggests, MacGillis has written about Amazon’s dramatic reorganizing of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Therapeutic Revolution

One of the most remarkable features of our society is its blithe dismissal of tradition. Religious practices that have long shaped our social and political life are held in contempt. Time-tested convictions that guided generations before us are not just second-guessed but mocked and denounced. It is . . . . Continue Reading »

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 »

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 »

The Greatest Christian Novel

When Dostoevsky wrote his last and greatest novel, The Brothers Karamazov, the ­revolutionary movement that would lead to Bolshevism was well ­underway. The terrorist organization People’s Will—one of the first such organizations in the world—performed daring assassinations and . . . . Continue Reading »

Why I Keep Kosher

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 »

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