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The Myth of Medieval Paganism

They don’t look very Christian—those strange faces made of leaves, and those women displaying cartoonishly enlarged genitals on the walls of medieval churches. Most people who have explored the medieval architecture of Western Europe have heard a tour guide explain that a particular carving . . . . Continue Reading »

Oppression by Indifference

Almost all Western democracies other than the United States provide public support to parents who wish to send their children to private schools with a distinctive religious character. In the Netherlands, this policy was ­formalized by the Pacificatie of 1917, which resolved seven decades . . . . Continue Reading »

American Pilgrimage

We began just after daybreak. One by one, the brigades filed out of the parking lot, each singing a different hymn. Turning away from the water, the lengthening line of pilgrims snaked up the hill toward a colossal statue of St. Isaac Jogues. This St. Isaac was not the bashful youth of prayer cards. . . . . Continue Reading »

An Affair of Things

Christianity is an affair of things. The things we see and touch and smell are bearers of the living Christ over time. As inspiring and edifying as the works of great artists are—Caravaggio’s The Calling of St. ­Matthew in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, . . . . Continue Reading »

Civil War Catholics

In recent decades, the Civil War has received an increasing amount of attention from historians. Some of this scholarship has focused on the role religion played in the war. In The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (2006), Mark Noll describes the Civil War as a turning point in the . . . . Continue Reading »

Soul Proprietor

In the history of Western thought, two conceptions of the soul have competed for dominance, one associated with Plato and the other with Aristotle. For the Platonist, your soul is the real you, and your body merely a vehicle to which it is temporarily attached—indeed, your body is a kind of . . . . Continue Reading »

Letters

I don’t suppose it will be easy for Carl Trueman (“Turning Inward,” December 2019) and me to avoid talking past each other, but let’s give it a try. My book, The Meaning of Protestant Theology, is not an effort to engage with secondary literature. (Gerhard Forde? Never read him; don’t . . . . Continue Reading »

Fierce Loyalties

In the last fifty years, most writing about modern Catholicism has treated Vatican II as the great watershed. According to the standard narrative, the Church before the Council was wedded to a stultifying scholasticism and sunk in soul-crushing authoritarianism. After the Council, a new spirit . . . . Continue Reading »

Homesick for Eternity

In 2018, Barack Obama urged his Facebook followers to read Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick Deneen. We live, Obama said, in a time of “increasing disillusionment with the liberal democratic order.” He traced this disillusionment to a trend that liberal democracies ignore at their own . . . . Continue Reading »

The World Turned Upside Down

After the Second World War, American intellectuals promoted a grand narrative about the origins and development of Western civilization. The purpose of this narrative was less academic than political. Its goal at home was to catechize a diverse country in an open-ended story that celebrated the . . . . Continue Reading »

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