Tag: First Things

If I Were the Pope, I’d Deal with China Differently

 

The Catholic Church, in her long and storied history, has lots of experience dealing with dictatorial powers that see her as a rival.

Throughout much of European history, bishops were a different class of wealthy noblemen. Rulers rightly saw bishops as potential threats. Many kings and princes attempted to control the ability to appoint the bishops within their rule. The response of the Church varied over time and place, but the essential lesson is that the Church should not, can not, cede her power to appoint bishops to the local authorities. When she does, it goes badly.

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In the wake of Bostock v. Clayton County, in which the Supreme Court held that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is necessarily sex-based, a number of conservative legal thinkers have unsheathed rather sharp swords against Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices, past and present. The arguments vary but generally boil down to dissatisfaction with textualism and […]

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In the First Things podcast for December 27, 2019, host Mark Bauerlein interviews Harvard Professor Thomas Patterson about his new book, How America Lost Its Mind: The Assault on Reason That’s Crippling Our Democracy. Mark did a good job, but the interview overall was a disappointment. Professor Patterson’s discussion focused on conspiracy theories, the sad lack […]

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QOTD: Camera vs. Sandwich

 

The late Sam Kinison, an incomparably loud and invariably offensive comedian, once delivered a comedy routine about famine. He remarked that whenever he sees heart-rending scenes of famine victims he wonders, “How come the film crew didn’t just give the kid a sandwich? How come you never see that? What are they afraid of”that it would spoil the shot?”

His famine routine was really very funny. In a twisted way it was also trenchant. The “Camera or Sandwich” problem is a good starting point for examining any human problem. Is it better to try to collect lots of insights about many issues than to get bogged down in particular problems involving particular people?

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Mark Hemingway is back to help Aaron break down the recent intramural Conservative debate between First Things and National Review, a debate that apparently everyone else wanted to have also. It started with this piece by Sohrab Ahmari and then mushroom clouded over the entire internet. Mark pointed out that this is really a continuation […]

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Sohrab Ahmari’s latest piece in First Things cause quite a stir and rightfully so. I am a big fan of Ahmari and First Things- though both have disappointed in this episode. I appreciate David French, but he is far from my favorite conservative. David’s cultural tastes are different than mine. He likes the NBA, blockbuster […]

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I am currently reading Jonah Goldberg’s “Suicide of the West” and Patrick Deneen’s “Why Liberalism Failed” for a doctoral class. Finding myself about halfway through the former I had the following review retweeted into my timeline this morning and it held exactly the critique of Goldberg’s thesis that was digging at me. I want to […]

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Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for November 28, 2017 it is the “Trump First Things” edition of the podcast with your hosts radio guy Todd Feinburg and nanophysicist Mike Stopa.

This week we are very lucky to have the senior editor of First Things magazine and Emory University English Professor Mark Bauerlein as our guest for an extended discussion on dumbing down of English departments and conversations at Thanksgiving when you are the only Trumpkin and what’s wrong with Western civilization anyway and a wide array of other topics.

Clusterfake Comes to First Things

 

EvidenceBy now, most readers are aware that the Rolling Stone article about gang rape at the University of Virginia was a hoax. Steve Sailer– one of the earliest skeptics — now puckishly calls the story Clusterfake.

One would think that journalists would stick to the standards that Isaac Asimov once proposed: “I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.”

In order to be credible, the UVA needed three pieces of evidence, all — as it turned out — conspicuous by their absence:

Great Man, Great Book: Hadley Arkes and First Things

 

Hadley-ArkesThere are a handful of political/philosophical books that have caused me to re-orient the way I think about the world.

Three examples: Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom clarified the way I think about markets and the ever-expanding bureaucratic state; Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions created a framework for the way I think about the differences between the liberal and conservative minds; and C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man, a brilliant (and short) defense of objective truths, reaffirmed some of my most fondly held beliefs.

Another such book has come into my life, this one dramatically clarifying my thinking about ethics and the first principles of moral and political life. The author is the American moral and legal philosopher Hadley Arkes (pronounced with two syllables), longtime professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts. The book’s title is First Things: An Inquiry Into the First Principles of Morals and Justice (1986). It is a brilliant modern exposition of the “natural rights” philosophy.