Why I’m Not Going to Talk About “Culture” Anymore (or Bill O’Reilly and the Guinness Shamrock)

Bill O’Reilly, primetime gladiator, walks into a bar. Specifically, it’s an Irish pub. Bill is traveling, covering immigration in El Paso, Texas, and he’s thirsty. He pulls up a stool at the bar, orders a Guinness. The bartender pours it and hands it over. “You’re a patriot,” says Bill. Bill picks up the chilled glass (made in Mexico). He sees that in the beer’s luxuriant head, the bartender has drawn a frothy shamrock. He tips the glass back, then replaces… Read more

Ask Aquinas Anything: Divine Perfection in the Face of Evil

Dear Thomas, My niece, who takes a daily two-minute break from facebook, sent me a message to ask: (1) how God, who knows everything, can know evil and still remain 100% actualized goodness; and (2) how God’s will can always be fulfilled given that there is evil in the world.  I’d be grateful for your advice.  Sincerely, Questioning in Quinnipiac. 1.  The most important point here is to establish the difference between “good” and “evil”.  Good is a transcendental quality… Read more

What Do We Do When We Run Out of Empathy?

In a recent New Yorker article “The Case Against Empathy,” Paul Bloom warns us against using empathy – the act of putting oneself in another’s shoes – as our primary moral guide. Empathy indeed aids us in our personal relationships and in cases, such as the Newtown shootings, where there is an identifiable victim, but it does not help us to respond to other situations where victims are unidentifiable (e.g. tax evasion), or when temporarily shelving our empathy is necessary… Read more

Friendship, Gender, and Literature

“What we need is… better art and better stories—better fictional worlds, by which I mean fictional worlds that rhyme with what is the case, with what is true yesterday, today, and forever,” says Alan Jacobs over at First Things. He is concluding his rather lengthy article comparing Lena Dunham’s HBO series Girls with Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park. Austen, he has argued, writes “interestingly about good people [and] really bad ones too”—and the moral character of her subjects has an… Read more

Because Science

In his book The Plot to Kill God, Paul Froese outlines the Soviet Union’s unsuccessful campaign to exterminate religion, drawing out the lessons we can learn from the campaign about the possibility of secularity. In order to completely remove religion from the socio-cultural landscape, Soviet authorities oppressed religious leaders and practitioners, strangled religious institutions, replaced religious rituals with secular versions, and waged rhetorical war on the legitimacy of religious belief in light of “scientific” progress. For all their efforts, Froese… Read more

Orthodoxy Has Won?

In an interesting read from Time Magazine, Mary Eberstat, author of this new book on secularism, argues that “in the war over Christianity, orthodoxy is winning.” She uses a fight over an Episcopalian church in Virginia, in which a breakaway traditional group in the church lost its legal battle with the mainline sect for ownership of the church’s physical property, as an example of how orthodoxy is “winning”: That traditionalist breakaway congregation in Virginia is larger than the one on the legally winning side… Read more

The Real Case Against the Suburbs, or, How Ought Christians to Think About the Common Good?

Over at Mere O, Keith Miller has been kind enough to respond to a piece the FF editors published about Anthony Bradley’s praise of ordinary Christianity. In his post, Bradley lamented that “radical” or “missional” Christianity was obscuring the need for basic, everyday Christianity. He linked this misplaced zeal of “radical Christianity” to the anti-suburbs movement. We responded by agreeing in part with Bradley, but noted that “there’s ordinary, and then there’s total capitulation to contemporary American norms.” Therefore, “some forms… Read more

Spring Issue Preview

Following up on yesterday’s TOC, here are excerpts from the spring issue’s four cover articles. We hope you are as excited as we are: Love and Money in Ukraine  by Lexi Heywood It must be understood that corruption in Ukraine has its root in the Ukrainian economy and history. Policemen, doctors, and teachers are paid very poorly and rely on bribes to supplement their paychecks. Astronomically high taxes encourage a flourishing black market that relies on the mafia for protection…. Read more

Spring Issue Table of Contents

  Fare Forward’s Good Life issue (Spring 2013) will return from the press in just a few days. Here’s a preview of the table of contents: FRONT SECTION 2 Opening Remarks By Peter Blair The modern search for happiness and meaning can be enlightened by traditional definitions of the good life. 6 Letters to the Editor   ARTICLE REVIEWS By the Editors 10 Wonking Up the Wrong Tree Treating economics as a value-neutral science will only lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy… Read more

Should We Buy Houses?

At the end of yesterday’s post, the editors called for a renewed attempt to distinguish between ordinary Christianity and capitulation to contemporary American norms. I think this will sometimes take us in counter-intuitive directions. Yesterday’s post made reference to “anti-suburban Christianity” and praised those Christians who have raised concerns about the effects of the suburbs on virtue and the life of faith. From this, it would not be a big leap to the pro-rental movement. When you think of the… Read more