Rowan Williams and the Anglican Future

Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, has issued his much-awaited response to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church: “Communion, Covenant, and our Anglican Future.” Although it’s not as lengthy as Pope Benedict’s recent encyclical, it’s sure to be parsed almost as carefully and debated nearly with the same intensity by Anglicans throughout the world. The letter is worthy of such scrutiny: As he has done so often in the past, Archbishop Williams has given us both a substantively theological read of the present moment and a sound and hopeful way forward for the Anglican Communion… . Continue Reading »

The Gnostic Turn

My son was still too deeply immersed in his thousandth or so re-reading of The Wind in the Willows to take an immediate interest in the copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince that I had just rescued for him from the chilly hinterlands of my library, so I decided to read it again myself. Memory, I found, had not really altered the story in my mind, but also had not quite prepared me for its total effect… . Continue Reading »

The Neglected Legacy of John Buchan

Author, administrator, historian, politician, mountaineer, and Governor-General of Canada, John Buchan is long overdue for rehabilitation as a genuine Christian intellect of the early twentieth century. A son of a minister, his favorite book after the Bible was Pilgrim’s Progress. Buchan’s progress was marked by a strong faith and catholicity of vision, and he deserves to be known for more than the ripping yarns that he fondly termed his “shockers.” . . . Continue Reading »

What Truths We Hold

A short time ago, President Barack Obama was invited to address the 2009 graduating class of Notre Dame and to be honored by the university. President Obama is an effective speaker; and his speech at Notre Dame was eloquently delivered. But Notre Dame is a Catholic University and the Catholic Church and hierarchy, and Catholics in large numbers, believe that abortion is killing an innocent fetus and a seriously sinful violation of the child’s right to life. President Obama, however, believes just as strongly that the mother has the right to kill the child in her womb… . Continue Reading »

Brave New Church

The seventy-sixth General Convention of the Episcopal Church made headlines last week for moving forward on same-sex blessings and officially opening its doors for partnered homosexuals to serve as priests and bishops. Stacy Sauls, the Episcopal bishop of Lexington and a close associate of the presiding bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori, argued that it was long past time to do it: Over thirty years ago, he said, the church had placed pastoral compassion over Scripture, tradition, and the teachings of Jesus to permit remarriage after divorce, and it would be nothing less than hypocritical for the church not to do likewise for gay and lesbian people… . Continue Reading »

Ex Corde and the Dilbert Effect

The controversy over Notre Dame’s awarding President Obama an honorary degree raised a fundamental question: What is a Catholic university? Many rich examinations of Catholic mission exist, of course, (from the works of John Cardinal Newman in the last century to Ex Corde Ecclesiae today) but they rarely have any effect on attempts to build Catholic mission. One reason for this may be that these examinations are too rich to serve as guides to definite action. Those in favor of stronger Catholic identity have difficulty maintaining focus on the best among many related concepts… . Continue Reading »

The Motivated Belief of John Polkinghorne

The word fundamentalist was first used in July 1920, and for much of the next decade American Protestants fought bitter internal battles over who would control their denominational seminaries, mission boards, and local churches. While those liberal Protestants who called themselves “modernists” sought to accommodate traditional Christian beliefs to modern science, politics, and culture, their conservative opponents were eager “to do battle royal for the fundamentals,” in the militaristic language of the Baptist preacher who coined the word… . Continue Reading »

Christianity Will Be Victorious, But Only In Defeat

Editor’s Note: In the August/September 2009 issue of First Things, currently on news stands, is a major new essay by René Girard drawn from his recent book, Achever Clausewitz, forthcoming as Battling to the End: Politics, War, and Apocalypse from Michigan State University Press. Here, as a First Things Online exclusive, literary journalist Cynthia Haven interviews Girard about his book.Continue Reading »

How God and Science Mix

Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “God and Science Don’t Mix” written by a physicist named Lawrence M. Krauss. I wrote a reply, which the Journal decided not to run. The text of my reply is given below. Those who read the Krauss article should be warned that Krauss makes a false insinuation about the views on miracles and the Virgin Birth of Br. Guy Consolmagno, a Jesuit astrophysicist at the Vatican Observatory. I e-mailed Br. Guy and he assured me that Krauss completely misrepresented his views. Here is the reply to Krauss that the Wall Street Journal decided not to run… . Continue Reading »

From the Apocalypse to the Rule of Law

The new issue of First Things is out”the August/September issue, filled with as broad a range of material as we’ve ever published. There’s economics, politics, legal theory, literary theory, history, poetry, and ethics. And then there’s René Girard”the grand literary theorist turned anthropologist turned theologian”who contributes an essay, drawn from his forthcoming book, on the lessons of war and the apocalypse. “Christianity is the only religion that has foreseen its own failure,” he writes… . Continue Reading »