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 »

Drifting Toward the Rocks

He drifted on the water, the man dozing on the inner tube, and didn’t wake till he nudged the wall of scree and shattered rocks at the far end of the reservoir. Not that there is much of a current in that little lake, formed by piling earth and broken boulders across the neck of a red-rock canyon. Just enough to coast him slowly, peacefully, inexorably down the hundred yards to the stone-littered hill of the dam”where he woke with a yelp and a startled leap at the touch of those sharp-edged stones… . Continue Reading »

Still In The World

“What if you die overseas and I’m not there,” my mom said when I told her I had joined the Marines. I laughed and said that even if I were a civilian and died in the United States she most likely wouldn’t be there. Still, she worried that one day she would get a call saying that I’d been killed or was dying far from home. My mother worried for nothing. Instead, over a decade later, I was the one who got the dreaded phone call… . Continue Reading »

The Gospel Of Scientific Materialism

The scientific popularizers”Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Steven Pinker, and others”don’t go in for nuance, as David Hart has pointed out again and again in our pages. They cheerfully champion the most reductive sort of materialism, including the idea that free will does not exist … Continue Reading »

The Suffering, Abominable Hamlet

T. S. Eliot caught a bit of flak in the 1920s when he claimed that Shakespeare’s most famous play Hamlet was, of all things, a flop: “Far from being Shakespeare’s masterpiece,” he said in “Hamlet and His Problems,” published in 1922, “the play is most certainly an artistic failure. In several ways the play is puzzling, and disquieting as is none of the others.” … Continue Reading »

Americans Who’ll Never Work Again

How many Americans will never work again? Perhaps a lot. A close look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey raises some alarming questions about the prospects of significant parts of the American population. Thirteen percent of Americans twenty-five years and over without a high school diploma were unemployed in June … Continue Reading »