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Law of Nations

Whatever international order there is today, it certainly is not beholden to political theology for its justification. Nevertheless, William Bain, a professor of international relations at the National University of Singapore, shows in this book that the idea of international order was justified in . . . . Continue Reading »

Woke Religion

We Americans tell our history in light of our awakenings, those periodic spasms of panic over the spiritual debts we have piled up against God as well as flesh and bone. This is what the summer’s racial unrest was: a mass attempt to expiate centuries of guilt. If we were purely corporeal beings, . . . . Continue Reading »

History Never Ended

Is liberalism giving way to something new? The most notable contemporary case for postliberalism, Patrick Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed, has four tacit assumptions: First, America is in decline. Second, liberalism is responsible for this decline. Third, liberalism is collapsing under the . . . . Continue Reading »

To Defend Freedom

Thomas Mann’s 1929 novella Mario and the Magician describes the performance of an ominous hypnotist at a seaside resort. The magician entertains his gullible audience by placing individuals in a trance before making them humiliate themselves by dancing ludicrously on stage. The setting . . . . Continue Reading »

Music That Is Never Heard

One of the most haunting images I know of comes from the last days of James ­Simon, a German Jewish composer who perished at Auschwitz. Having survived ­Theresienstadt, he and others were sent off to their final destination. Witnesses say that the last time they saw him, Simon was waiting for the . . . . Continue Reading »

Abortion is Unconstitutional

“Begin with Blackstone’s Commentaries,” wrote presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln in 1860, when asked how to get a thorough knowledge of law; read them “carefully through, say twice.” (That’s four thousand pages, just to “begin” with.) Lawyers involved in drafting and debating the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Gospel 
According to Dickens

In the popular understanding of Christmas, Charles Dickens’s 1843 novella looms large. A Christmas Carol seems to represent not only Christmassy warmth, fellowship, and cheer, but the very essence of Christian practice. At the end, Ebenezer Scrooge, the old skinflint, is redeemed by an . . . . Continue Reading »

At Home on Revolutionary Road

One of the hoariest clichés of American popular culture is anti-suburban sentiment. Common throughout literature, film, and television, it arguably received its most tuneful expression in Malvina Reynolds’s 1962 song “Little Boxes,” which disparages the tracts of affordable housing that were . . . . Continue Reading »

Gnostic Politics

I recently met a medical student who was beginning her rotation in internal medicine. A special morning session had been set aside to discuss proper protocols for interacting with patients. The person leading the discussion came from the hospital’s office of diversity and inclusion. She emphasized . . . . Continue Reading »

Nordic Penelope

Oh, to be married in the Middle Ages! Your parents would select your spouse. Relatives and the local lord would consider and approve the choice; the clergy would do likewise and bless the bond before God and family, parish and town. You’d know what to expect about the rest of your life because . . . . Continue Reading »

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