Harvard and the Humanities

Harvard professors do a bad job of holding on to freshmen. In the last eleven incoming classes, the percentage of aspiring humanists has dropped from 27 to 18 percent, and more than half of that 18 percent who began with the humanities ended up in a different division, mostly social science. Why do . . . . Continue Reading »

While We’re At It - Pt. XVII

• In France, lawyers defending twenty-­seven Roma, or Gypsies, charged with selling child brides and teaching children to steal added to the usual mitigating circumstances argument—they’re poor, so they have to steal, and so would you—the claim that France couldn’t apply its laws . . . . Continue Reading »

2013 in Review

As 2013 draws to a close I’d like to look back at the past year for First Things magazine. We published some winners, to be sure, but also some losers. And so, with Lot’s wife as a warning against dwelling on the past, here are some observations. . . . Continue Reading »

Lynne Hybels, Evangelicals, and Israel

There is a small but growing movement among evangelicals against unique friendship for Israel, embodied by the recent “Impact Holy Land” conference hosted by Evangelicals for Social Action in Philadelphia. Among the prominent U.S. and Palestinian church voices who spoke was Lynne Hybels, co-founder with her pastor husband Bill of the Chicago area Willow Creek Church, which itself spawned a widely replicated model for especially non-denominational congregations… . Continue Reading »

The Personhood Pincer

The Nonhuman Rights Project made headlines recently by filing three lawsuits seeking to have chimpanzees declared legal persons entitled to “bodily liberty,” and hence, writs of habeas corpus to end their forced captivity… . Continue Reading »

Discrimination Against Christians?

Christians are facing more and more difficulties in Western society. Every day, especially in Europe, churches and cemeteries are desecrated; blasphemy pretends to be an art for the general public; activists like Femen attack symbols of religion, and the media rarely miss an opportunity to belittle Christians and the Catholic Church. It is this latent hostility towards Christianity which explains the indifference, or even the complaisance, of our society towards the desecration of its religious heritage and the persecution of Christians throughout the world… . Continue Reading »

Catholic Churches and the Hard of Hearing

Catholic churches are hard on the hard of hearing. Part of the problem is architectural. Catholic churches are built for the eye, not the ear. Interior spaciousness is meant to elevate your vision, just as the priest elevates the host. The church is a sacred space that opens onto the heavens. Churches that aim toward the light, however, often end up burying the human voice. There is plenty of room for incense to waft but also for voices to disperse. Nevertheless, size alone isn’t the problem … Continue Reading »

Leaving Brooklyn

My family had been in Brooklyn (or, as I will ever call it, God’s country) for over a century, refugees from the Lower East Side and a Jacob Riis–style life in early-twentieth-century New York. My father didn’t speak much about his youth in Bensonhurst, but what he did say was enough to fill . . . . Continue Reading »