A Papal Tutor of Heroic Virtue

To teach prayer and holiness to edgy adolescents is no small achievement. To do it under the pressures of a homicidal Nazi Occupation is remarkable. To do it with a future pope means that Jan Tyranowski’s lessons extend far beyond Dębniki and touch the entire world. Continue Reading »

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 »

The Other Internet

It is not the labor that is divided; but the men,” complains the author. Society produces “morbid thinkers, and miserable workers” because we have separated thought from labor in pursuit of a destructive freedom. What we need instead is a countercultural submission to the patterns of creation, . . . . Continue Reading »

The Cardinal Virtues & The Walking Dead

An academic friend was visiting from abroad, and after a day of talks and teaching, we wound down around ten o’clock at night. Noticing my exhaustion, he offered a secret to decompression. “Zohmbies, Mahtt,” he counseled in his inimitable Greek accent. So it was that I tuned into my first . . . . Continue Reading »

A Guide Through the Thicket

For some time now, First Things has sought to bring Catholics and evangelicals together. Richard John Neuhaus, Charles Colson, and their fellow travelers have engaged in an fruitful ecumenism of the trenches, discovering as they went along that they had more in common than they knew, particularly with respect to Christian ethics and the church’s public witness. And much though not all of First Things’ work has been in the service of a religiously informed “public philosophy,” seeking to find a common language for perennial truths about marriage, life, freedom, and other issues in the public square. Continue Reading »

Is Vice More Interesting than Virtue?

Since at least the age of Milton, whose Satan in Paradise Lost allegedly outmatches the other characters in depth and dynamism, artistic depictions of evil have often been associated with power and interest. So it’s not surprising that many critics approached director Kenneth Branagh’s rococo new version of Disney’s Cinderella on the stepmother’s side. “Bad always sizzles more than good,” Manohla Dargis proclaimed in the New York Times. Other critics noted with genuine puzzlement that the title character manages to be compelling in spite of her moral goodness. Where is the dramatic appeal, they wondered, in a conventionally virtuous character? Continue Reading »