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Bob Dylan Must Get Stoned

Journalists have always been puzzled by Bob Dylan, but the confusion is of their own making. The pattern of treating him as a trickster whose words cannot be taken at face value was established in the sixties, when the rock intelligentsia wanted Dylan to be a political as well as musical revolutionary. He was neither, of course. His radicalness came from a deeply conservative understanding of musical history: He was reading Civil War era newspapers while everyone else was reading Norman O. Brown and listening to Gospel and Blues when music was becoming “pop” in the fifties. Continue Reading »

Reading Acts with the Reformers

In 1622, just two years after the Pilgrims had set sail for Plymouth, John Donne preached a sermon on Acts 1:8 to the members of the Virginia Company, another group of New World adventurers. He applied the text of his sermon—“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”—directly to his audience: Continue Reading »

What Happened to Switzerland

In 2008, bioethicist Yuval Levin in his book Imagining the Future: Science and American Democracy identified a subtle but momentous shift in the philosophical driver of the West:

The worldview of modern science . . . sees health not only as a foundation but also a principal goal, not only as a beginning but also an end. Relief and preservation—from disease and pain, from misery and necessity—become the defining ends of human action, and therefore of human societies.
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