An Error Worse Than Error

For a long time as a young teacher, I believed the danger of prostituting their minds by believing falsehoods was the preeminent, or even singular, intellectual danger my students faced. So I challenged them and tried to teach them always to be self-critical, questioning, skeptical. What are your assumptions? How can you defend your position? Where’s your evidence? Why do you believe that? … Continue Reading »

The Suppurating Mess That is Pakistan

If Pakistan’s intelligence service continues to plot terrorist attacks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, as the mass of documents released yesterday by Wikileaks allege, who is responsible for covering this up for so many years? The answer, I argue in this morning’s Asia Times Online, is everybody… . Continue Reading »

E.T., Phone Here

In the early spring months of 1950, the city of New York witnessed an outbreak of juvenile delinquency. Late at night, prowling gangs were stealing those iconic Department of Sanitation iron-mesh trash cans from New York’s street corners”and local newspapers at the time were in a dither… . Continue Reading

American Culture and American Intelligence

“Intelligence,” both in the national security as well as the ordinary sense of the term, is limited by the culture from whence it stems. Dana Priest’s and William Arkin’s Washington Post account of chaos in the American intelligence community, “A Hidden World, Growing Beyond Control,” has prompted a round of finger-wagging at both the Bush and Obama administrations… . Continue Reading »

Church, State, and Original Intent

Following the Supreme Court’s (in)famous 1947 decision, Everson v. Board of Education, which constitutionalized a strict-separationist interpretation of the Establishment Clause on the basis of the Clause’s purported original meaning, generations of scholars have sharply disagreed on what the original meaning actually is… . Continue Reading »

Getting Beyond Bainton

Roland Bainton, who died in 1984, was a fixture at the Yale Divinity School for more than four decades and remained an influential Church historian over during two decades of retirement. His most popular book was Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther; but Luther scholarship has gone far beyond Bainton since Here I Stand was published in 1950. Bainton’sChristian Attitudes Toward War and Peace, however, which was first published in 1960, continues to exert a significant influence on Christian thought today. The question is whether that influence is helpful, or baleful… . Continue Reading »

After the Scandals

Last year, the Irish government published the Murphy Report detailing sexual abuse cases among the clergy, and more damningly, cover-ups by the bishops. Then there was the dustup over a cleric from Pope Benedict’s old diocese in Germany, who was reassigned while in sexual rehab. Now we see very sad and ugly revelations about a Belgian bishop, along with the usual history of negligent oversight … Continue Reading »

You Can’t Take the Back Alley Out of Abortion

Sunday’s New York Times Magazine features an optimistic cover story: “The New Abortion Providers” by Emily Bazelon. It recounts the decades-long struggle of abortion advocates to become more accepted by the medical profession, because at the moment, the vast majority of abortions are done in isolated, high-volume, abortion-specialized clinics. The new goal for abortion supporters is “to recast doctors, changing them from a weak link to abortion to a strong one … with the hope that, eventually, more and more doctors will use their training to bring abortion into their practices … to integrate abortion so that it’s a seamless part of health care for women”embraced rather than shunned.” … Continue Reading »

An Independent Witness to Marriage

In the pending court case for overturning California’s Proposition 8, which banned “gay marriage,” two leading conservative legal scholars face off: Charles J. Cooper, taking the classical conservative line that organic social institutions such as marriage have an inherent value and cannot be redefined by legal fiat, and Theodore Olson, taking the more libertarian line that government should simply regulate contractual relationships between individuals … Continue Reading »