The Great Charter at 800

Henry Ford is often quoted as saying, “History is bunk.” That’s not quite accurate. What he actually told the Chicago Tribune in 1916 is this: “I wouldn’t give a nickel for all the history in the world. It means nothing to me. History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that’s worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.” Continue Reading »

Remembering Conservative Reformers

Liberals are enjoying a moment of confidence. Across the board, there is a sense that the salient political issues are evolving and that demographic shifts are weakening the center-right political coalition. It’s true that the challenges have changed, but more than ever it’s the right, not the left, which has the resources to address the problems of today. Continue Reading »

Original Sin is Problematic

According to former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, he was fired for being a Christian. According to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, he was fired for insubordination and poor judgment. And according to the New York Times’s recent editorial, he was fired for speaking of his subordinates as “second-class citizens.” But the argument over the motive for Cochran’s firing and its effect on civil and religious liberties obscures a deeper disagreement over Christian conceptions of sin and the consequences of those ideas in a public work environment. More than a mere difference in theology, this disagreement has dramatic implications for pluralism. Continue Reading »

Europe and Nothingness

In the wake of the horrific jihadist attack on the Paris-based journal Charlie Hebdo, the trope “satirical magazine” was regularly deployed to explain Charlie’s character and content. But that’s not quite right. Continue Reading »

The Scale of the Universe and the Religious View

Who is the protagonist of Hamlet? It seems pretty obvious that it is the dark prince himself, but I am sure you can imagine a clever reader making a case that it is really Ophelia, or Claudius, or some other important character. What would you say to someone who said that the protagonist was actually Cornelius, the Danish envoy to Norway, whose one line is shared with someone else? Continue Reading »

Orion and Modern Man

One evening in the dead of winter, I went on a walk. I was on a break from graduate school visiting my parents who live away from the glare of city lights. As I was making my way that night, I looked up into the sky to locate my old friends—those constellations of stars I had been taught to recognize as a young boy. Most of them were there that evening, quietly making their way across the heavens: the always-faithful Big Dipper, Cassiopeia in her regal splendor, and Cepheus her jealous husband. And then, suddenly, my survey of the skies was arrested by the sight of Orion the Hunter. Continue Reading »

How a Decadent Culture Makes Me Think Like Sorokin

The more I am hit by the decadence and vulgarity of American culture, the more I return to the thought of Pitirim A. Sorokin (1889-1968). Now out of favor in spite of his enduring scholarship and his central role in the development of academic sociology, Sorokin was already beginning to fade when I entered graduate school in the late-1950s. His stout anti-communism, critique of loosening sexual mores, and cultural conservatism ran squarely against the academic trends of the time. And it didn’t help that his life story gave him far more credibility than his colleagues to discuss the great ideological debates of the Cold War. Continue Reading »