After Planning

Thirty years ago, Lucy Suchman’s Plans and Situated Actions reminded us of the limits of our ability to control outcomes by careful, thoughtful planning. She analyzed the utter failure of early “smart” photocopiers to help people make copies. The designers and programmers of these “smart” . . . . Continue Reading »

Letters

No Authority As a practicing general pediatrician, I appreciated Dr. Leonard Sax’s article “Don’t Ask the Kids” in the October issue of First Things. Sax makes some very helpful suggestions for parents struggling to raise respectful children, but his emphasis is misplaced in advocating . . . . Continue Reading »

After the Fall

If there is hope to be found in this painful political year, it is in the fact that the spell which liberal modernity has long cast over the Christian imagination might finally be starting to dissolve even as technocracy tightens its grip on our everyday lives. Continue Reading »

A More Perfect Absolutism

It is part of the absurdity of American life that we decide questions of truth under the guise of settling contests of rights. Which means that we decide questions of truth without thinking deeply or even very honestly about them. Thus, while it is obvious to many that we are living through a . . . . Continue Reading »

Letters

MFA OR NOT?When I met Randy Boyagoda, I told him that I was pursuing an MFA in fiction and he genially disapproved: “No! Why?” I forget what I answered. But most MFAs, when surveyed, will say, “I want time to write.” Any MFA program worth getting into will give you a reasonable stipend for . . . . Continue Reading »

Technocracy Now

The recently revised New York City Health Department form for parents requesting birth certificates asks the “woman giving birth” whether she is female or male. The question is obviously absurd. But why do absurdities of this sort keep popping up? And why do most people fall in line, . . . . Continue Reading »

The Weakness of Laudato Si

Please enjoy this excerpt from “The Public Square” of the forthcoming August/September issue of First Things. To read more, subscribe here.Laudato Si addresses global warming and other environmental issues, as well as global development and economic justice. The conjunction of concerns is . . . . Continue Reading »