About Brandon McGinley

Brandon McGinley graduated from Princeton University in 2010 with a degree in Politics. He and his wife, Katie, live in his hometown of Pittsburgh, where he works for the Pennsylvania Family Institute.

Our Independence Day

The neighborhood where I grew up traditionally hosts its Fourth of July festivities on the Friday before the holiday.  The theory, so I understand, is to be able to draw revelers from adjacent communities by avoiding competing with everyone else’s Independence Day events.  I’m tempted to speculate that this profit-maximization logic makes this late June party more American than its July 4th counterparts.Though the celebration is supported by local government, it’s actually hosted by a shoppin … [Read more...]

Moral Experimentation and the Tree of Life

Director Terrence Malick’s fifth feature film, The Tree of Life, is a film universal in scope; it covers the period from the beginning of time to the termination of planet Earth, and beyond.  But it is also a film about the particular: a particular boy in a particular family in a particular place.  Taken together, then, Malick’s project is to place our particularity in the context of the universal—and to try to make us understand that we can only make sense of ourselves in this context.An ess … [Read more...]

Virtue in TV

“Everybody lies.”  The FOX drama House sustained eight seasons of medical mysteries on this cynical insight alone.  And the more righteous the liars were, the more satisfying (for Dr. House, and often for the viewer) were their falls.  A classic episode pitted a rambunctious “faith healer” against the atheist misanthrope, but when the root of the young man’s illness is revealed to be the sexually-transmitted herpes virus, the doctor gets the last laugh.Law & Order: SVU is still chugging a … [Read more...]

The Rule of the Clan

What should be the relationship among individualism, civil society, and state power in a healthy political order? In the Summer 2013 issue of Fare Forward, I considered this question in critiquing an essay by Rutgers Law School professor Mark Weiner. My primary critique of Prof. Weiner's essay was that he did not adequately grapple with civil society as a solution to the “paradox of individualism:”"Weiner presents an impoverished and unconvincing account of civil society, which he reduces t … [Read more...]

Epic Mentality

 In my house, my wife Katie and I are hoping that using consistent, relaxing music around bedtime will help to create a sleepy routine for our seven-month-old daughter. You may be surprised to learn that current music of choice is a playlist of peaceful tracks from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. No, we don’t think little Teresa is learning anything from “Into the West.”  (Our parental delusions aren’t that acute.)  But as I listen to the music and recall the stories told by Tol … [Read more...]

The Real Paradox of Individualism

 In contemporary American political discourse, there are two poles of authority and power: the individual and the state. Their relationship is inverse and antagonistic; as one waxes, the other wanes. Thus, our world is split conceptually between the realm of state authority and the realm of individual autonomy, and politics is the working-out of the boundary between the two. Politicians may pay lip service to concepts such as “family” and “community,” but ultimately the individual-state … [Read more...]