Return of the Strong Gods

A young writer in Australia recently sent me an essay that ended with an arresting sentence: “I am twenty-seven years old and hope to live to see the end of the twentieth century.” I sympathize. We have reached a series of dead ends in the West. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Americans . . . . Continue Reading »

Empson in the East

The Face of the Buddhaby william empsonedited by rupert arrowsmithoxford, 208 pages, $49.95 William Empson (1906–1984) was not, as he is frequently said to have been, an “important critic,” but only because there is no such thing. By the same token, neither was he a unicorn, a square circle, . . . . Continue Reading »

Disincarnate Christ

Silence by shūsaku endōforeword by martin scorsesepicador, 256 pages, $16 Silencea film directed by martin scorseseparamount, 161 minutes, $19.99 Vincent Shiozuka’s life was a failure. Raised Christian in Japan, he fled to Manila in 1614 to avoid the growing Christian persecution in his native . . . . Continue Reading »

Self-Evident, Not Obvious

C. S. Lewis on Politics and the Natural Lawby justin buckley dyer and micah j. watsoncambridge, 170 pages, $44.99 Of the making of books about C. S. Lewis there is no end. Although interest in his thought receded somewhat in the decade or so after his death in 1963, it gradually recovered, has grown . . . . Continue Reading »

​Stardust to Stardust

I’m at the corner of Broadway and West 73rd Street trying to decide whether the security guard at the building next door dislikes me. Earlier he was giving me dirty looks when I bent down to study the sign in front of the church he is guarding. With apologies to a man who is just trying to do his . . . . Continue Reading »

A Disunited Methodist Church

Just as the Roman Catholic Church was shaped, in part, by the culture of the Empire, so Methodism in America was influenced by the democracy of the New World. In their beginnings, American Methodism and the United States of America created three branches of government: legislative, executive, and . . . . Continue Reading »

Michael Novak by the Sea

Once upon a time there was a lion . . . and the lion had a voice like a lamb. The day Michael Novak died, that unbidden couplet mysteriously wrote itself into my head. Now it’s stuck there like a song that won’t go away. Maybe it lingers because I always thought of Michael as a lion, a metaphor . . . . Continue Reading »

Restraining Populism

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote Donald Trump a public letter the day after his election. “Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political . . . . Continue Reading »

Pilgrims of Progress

America’s national epic was not written in meter and verse. Nor, for that matter, was it written by an American. Yet The Pilgrim’s Progress is nonetheless the primal American story, the account of our mad flight from order and lonely quest for grace. Hemmed in by civilization, resentful of kin, . . . . Continue Reading »

MacIntyre Against Morality

Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity:An Essay on Desire, Practical Reasoning, and Narrativeby alasdair macintyrecambridge, 332 pages, $49.99 I The dialogues of Plato provide the first sustained demonstration both of the depth and difficulty of philosophy, and of the fact that the beginnings of the . . . . Continue Reading »