Conservatives’ Mixed Message on Immigration

America has “bad-faith open borders.” We limit immigration but we enforce those limits only sporadically. Fred Bauer argues that this “is a distorted hybrid of the United States’ tradition of ordered borders and of the transnationalist aim of entirely open borders.” The distortion is real, but it is not rooted entirely in transnationalism. It is also rooted in a certain kind of American exceptionalism that has a history on the right, but that conservatives don’t talk about very much. Getting past “bad-faith open borders” will require rejecting romanticism and looking to the facts of the American present. Continue Reading »

The Good Historian Resembles an Ogre

On April 1st of this year, the great French medievalist Jacques Le Goff died at the age of ninety (1924-2014). There were obituaries in the newspapers of Britain and Europe, but not much in the American press. This is unfortunate. More than a mere historian, Le Goff was a strongly pro-European public intellectual whose historiography helped support the formation of the European Union. Continue Reading »

Shipwreck and Mission

The post-Vatican II Lectionary for Mass has many fine features, one of which is the continuous reading of the Acts of the Apostles during weekday Masses in the Easter season. As the Church celebrates the Resurrection for fifty days, the Church also ponders the first evangelization: the primitive Christian community, in the power of the Spirit, brings the surrounding Mediterranean world the history-shattering news that Jesus of Nazareth, having been Continue Reading »

A Line Crossed in the Middle East

Say goodbye to one of the most ancient Christian communities in the world. Last week, members of ISIS—the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” a Sunni Islamist group that recently has captured parts of Iraq and declared a new caliphate—began going through the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and marking the homes of Christians with the Arabic letter “Nun.” “Nun” stands for “Nasara,” from “Nazarenes,” a word that refers to Christians. The implications were clear. Mosul’s Christians faced the same fate the Christians of Raqqa, Syria, had when ISIS captured their city last spring. “We offer them three choices,” ISIS announced: “Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.” Continue Reading »

Why Gay Rights Are Not The New Civil Rights

Supporters of same-sex marriage love to make analogies to the African American Civil Rights Movement. Analogies are rhetorical devices that require careful scrutiny. While I do not find the attempt to connect bans on gay marriage to miscegenation laws persuasive, nevertheless there is nothing inherently wrong in trying to find parallels between these two social movements. In that spirit, let me offer my own reflections on what we can learn by comparing them. Continue Reading »

Middle-East Meets Middle-Earth

Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas!” What’s this? The ravings of a fundamentalist Jewish settler in Gush Etzion? Congratulations from a Christian Zionist hunkered down in his bomb shelter somewhere in the Deep South? Continue Reading »

Greeks Bearing Debts

Classics is no longer seen as a cutting-edge discipline, but two centuries ago German scholars devoted to the “cult of the Greeks” created the modern university when they developed new methods in philology and installed Altertumswissenschaft, the science of antiquity, at the center of the curriculum Continue Reading »

What Women Bishops Mean For Christian Unity

On July 14, 2014, the General Synod of the Church of England voted to permit women to be consecrated as bishops in their church. It followed a long, and sometimes bitter debate, and a vote in 2012 that barely fell short of the required two-thirds majority among lay representatives. Part of the decision—debated as to its enforceability—guarantees parochial opponents access to male priests and bishops. Continue Reading »