1789: A Requiem

Perhaps no English poem was more frequently cited during France’s 1989 Bicentennial year than William Wordsworth’s Prelude, in Book XI of which one finds “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, / But to be young was very Heaven!” Anyone unfamiliar with the poet’s biography might reasonably . . . . Continue Reading »

An Open Letter on Abortion

I intend these remarks primarily for a specific group of people: those persons of good will who say they are personally opposed to abortion but are prochoice. Though we hold opposed views, my hope is that we can still engage profitably in a rational discussion of the abortion issue, once we come to . . . . Continue Reading »

Nature's Call

In Tennessee Williams’ The Night of the Iguana the dissolute but not, he emphatically insists, officially “defrocked” Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon has been “collecting evidence . . . of man’s inhumanity to God.” When asked what he means by that. Shannon indicates that he refers to the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Uses of Homophobia

The best way to win an argument is to control the terms of discussion. Any high school debater knows that, and those of us who forget it do so at the risk of finding ourselves in awkwardly defensive modes of public discourse. Take the current and curious case of the term “homophobia,” a word . . . . Continue Reading »

Feminism: Beyond the Second Stage

Barbara Bush finally got to speak at the Wellesley commencement last June, despite protests from 150 seniors that she did not embody the qualities that Wellesley seeks to instill in its students because she had dropped out of Smith to become a wife and mother. At about the same time, another Smithie . . . . Continue Reading »

A Minimalist Aristotle?

Innocence and Experience by stuart hampshire harvard university press, 195 pages, $20  Stuart Hampshire begins his new book by pointing out that “there are a thousand or more themes that might be pursued under the heading of moral and political philosophy.” In Innocence and Experience, . . . . Continue Reading »

Abortion and the Neutral State

The search for the American political mainstream is a risky enterprise. It can be a salutary and enlightening exercise when it causes us to reflect upon the fundamental principles and purposes that define the American experiment in self-government. But it can also lead to disastrous consequences if . . . . Continue Reading »

What Families Are For

In his engagingly titled book, What’s Wrong With the World, G. K. Chesterton argued that his fellow citizens could not repair the defects of the family because they had no ideal at which to aim. Neither the Tory (Gudge) nor the Socialist (Hudge) had an ideal that viewed the family as sacred, an . . . . Continue Reading »

Where Babies Come From

Recent reports from a French laboratory contain some good news and some bad news for the prochoice movement. The good news is that abortion is not the taking of human life. Studies conducted by the French geneticist Jacques “Mad Jack” Junot of the Institut Genetique in Paris reveal that, . . . . Continue Reading »