Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Pope Speaks to China

"Only the head of the Catholic Church could have written this kind of letter..." writes Fr. Bernardo Cervellera of Asianews.


Freeman Dyson is a great scientist with some religious leanings. His view of the future shows two typical features of our time: a) the idea that civilization boils down to material development (no need to address the question "What is a human being?"); b) a naive lack of awareness about the reality of sin .

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Ross Douthat appropriately trashes the Hitchens book.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Out of his depth

Why does Tom Cruise sound hilariously miscast as a Swabian Catholic Count who lived in one of the most tragic times in world history?

The Greatest Generation?

“Most kids coming into the Army today have never worn leather shoes in their life unless it said Nike, Adidas, or Timberland. They’ve never run two miles consecutively in their life, and for the most part they hadn’t had an adult tell them ‘no’ and mean it. That’s bizarre,” says an officer in charge of training today's generation of new recruits.

"Miracles are hard to come by in Britain"

During outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to the Vatican Pope Benedict gave him some things to think about, including the lack of miracles in the U.K. ...

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Jeff Jacoby highlights the hypocrisy of those who accuse the president's position on embryonic stem cells of being ideological, whereas they themselves turn "science" into an ideology. The quotes by the Democratic leaders are astounding. The identification of reason with "science" is the current Western way to philosophical nihilism, and its embrace by the Democratic party is more important than how many "Catholic issues" they are willing to support.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Living there

Time on a recent conference in Venice.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A different age

A column on how JFK handled the issue of Catholicism in the 1960 elections.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A private matter?

Apparently, Tony Blair is becoming a Catholic. It would be interesting to understand why, given the apparently absolute separation between his public figure and his private religious convictions.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Chess game

Amir Taheri thinks there is a bigger picture surrounding the Gaza events.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Reality wins

The history of Antioch College reads like a prophecy of the outcomes of the whole post-1960 liberal ideology.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Richard Rorty died.
Rorty advocated a form of liberalism that is pure negation--the vacuum that is left over once people stop believing that any "truth" (always in scare quotes) is worth killing or dying for. In Rorty's view, we are all (or should be) liberals in this sense--not out of conviction or principle, but by default, because of the absence or unavailability of any competing conviction or principle.
. We are curious to see how long a society can last on such solid cultural foundations.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fron non-I to I

Last week's essay by Paul Berman in the New Republic is worth reading. Spengler makes an interesting comment on the relationship between modern totalitarianism and paganism, understood as a creed in which the individual only exists for the sake of the state (or the tribe or the race):

Rosenzweig...described Islam as pagan, and Allah as an apotheosized despot. He began, that is, with a general characterization of pagan society, that is, society in the absence of God's self-revelation through love, and then considered Islam as a specific case of a paganism that parodies the outward form of revealed religion. God's self-revelation as an act of love first makes possible human individuality: the individual human is an individual precisely because he is loved.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Philip K. Dick sensed that the question of the age is what it means to be human.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


An important stem cell development may weaken the push to use human-embryos.

No atheists in the delivery room

This essay by Mary Eberstadt contains a valid intuition: that engagement with life (in this case, having children) leads to religiosity, whereas a bourgeois lifestyle of leisure atrophizes it.

“An Unforgivable Offense to Progress”

Panned initially for being too pessimistic about the future, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World now appears remarkably prescient in its portrayal of a world of universal promiscuity, mass consumerism, and birth separated from procreation. Though the work celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, it seems few critics have succeeded in discerning Huxley's real message: an attack on “the new spirit which tries to induce man… to abandon the practice of speculating about his existence and his destiny.”

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Revolutionary suicide

The New Republic has been publishing some excerpts from Paul Berman's new book on the generation of 1968. The most striking fact is how ideology led this people to a complete neglect of their humanity. The logical outcome was nihilism, either serious (suicide) or unserious (Cohn-Bendit).

Monday, June 04, 2007


If you have been reading the Pope's book, you have learnt about Jacob Neusner.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

L oss of faith

Daniel Callahan is an interesting figure. You may not know that this prominent agnostic bioethicist used to be the editor of Commonweal.


Occasionally one is reminded of the naivete of the liberal post-enlightment delusion that certain values are universal across cultures just because WE have been taught to recognize them as universal in principle.

Ray Bradbury, the Monsters and the Critics

His classic Fahrenheit 451 tells of a dystopian future of mass book burnings and groups of people who retreat from the cities to memorize whole texts so as to carry human culture through a new dark age. For over 40 years critics have called it a novel about government censorship. Now the author wants us to know that the intellectuals were wrong. The problem was never censorship-- it was television.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Friday, June 01, 2007


A major story of the last few years: China's economic conquest of Africa.