Is Islam an eastern or western religion?

I spoke last week of the fictions of relativism and concluded with one of E.M. Cioran’s typically laconic aphorisms about the East’s greater honesty toward the absolute. Well, maybe. But maybe not. I once read a marvelous book by Dava Sobel called Longitude: The True Story of a Lone . . . . Continue Reading »

Living as an atheist

Writers who call themselves atheists have often surprised me by their reasons for not believing in God. In the long history of humanity, of course, their unbelief is an anomaly, a distinctly minority position. Even Clarence Darrow once said that he certainly did not believe in the Jewish or . . . . Continue Reading »

America’s prettiest Catholic churches

Thanks for all the help finding those churches¯brick, modern, disappointing; too empty of ideas even to be awful¯that seem to mark too much of Catholic architecture in the United States. The emails have come pouring in, and it’s going to take me a day or so to sort them out before I . . . . Continue Reading »

RR: A cultural earthquake

I have long felt that the defining event of my lifetime has been an ongoing cultural revolution. A recent book by Philip Rieff, My Life among the Deathworks , confirms this. According to Rieff, from the beginnings of human history, men and women have thought that happiness comes from a disciplined . . . . Continue Reading »

Churches that Fail at Being Awful

What does a typical American Catholic church look like? In something I was working on last night, I wrote about a set of (usually suburban) churches: “Not even distinguished enough to be bad examples of their kind, they just are —each one vaguely modern, vaguely brick, vaguely . . . . Continue Reading »

More on Modern Aesthetics

A reader wrote to correct my recent observations about the contemporary culture of transgression. It was not Robert Mapplethorpe who put the cross in a jar of urine; it was Andres Serrano. I’ll admit that most contemporary art blurs in my mind. A few months ago, I toured the Chelsea galleries. . . . . Continue Reading »

Pearce: Teen Magazines and Gangsta Culture

A recent news story from England highlights the sickness at the very core of our “liberated” society. It seems that a 21-year-old Canadian man had contacted young girls in the English county of Kent, via the Internet, and had managed to persuade several of them to commit sex acts live in . . . . Continue Reading »

WJS: The Two Greatest Threats

There are two great evils against which our generation has been called upon to contest. The first is the threat of Islamo-fascist terrorism, a struggle that has grown increasingly intense since the atrocity of September 11. The second is an issue of law, ethics, and morality, and is nothing less . . . . Continue Reading »

Novak on Happy Danes

A new survey of 178 nations by the University of Leicester in England reports that the Danes are the happiest people in the world, followed by the Swiss, Austrians, and Icelanders, etc. Happiness is correlated with wealth and education, the study suggests. “Here we have social security, so . . . . Continue Reading »