Words

Some of you might like my recent essay at Image’s Good Letters channel. Here’s an excerpt: “The vicissitudes of life may chink or scorch or even crack that die, but if your child doesn’t come with the self-restraint app, for example, the twin-studies data suggest you’re not going to build it into him. So don’t …

Silence

Some of you may appreciate my essay at Patheos about the long silent witnesses to Jerry Sandusky’s crimes against children, and the propensity for most of us to avoid the courageous and costly choice. Here’s an excerpt: “We all imagine we’d choose bravely: We’d lead a revolt against the slaver. We’d turn our backs on …

Homecoming

Some of you may like my latest essay at Image Journal’s section of Patheos, “Coming Home to Fatherhood.” Here’s an excerpt: “Or perhaps it’s closer to truth to say that nearly everything we do, so long as we love our children, keeps us moving closer to the full heart-knittedness that we yearn for with anyone …

Thin thread

Some of you may like my latest essay at the Image Good Letters blog. Here’s an excerpt: “Telling a story along that thin thread, however, means abandoning the notion that the world pierces us more deeply, that our hearts sing more loudly. What if the opposite were true? What if the reason there are television …

Hunting dogs

“When the law is against you,” goes the adage, “argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When both the facts and law are against you….” Here we may turn for instruction to Jerry Taylor, ringleader of Cato Institute officials in the unenviable position of needing to convince people who embrace …

Listing

If you were to write down the names of everyone you trust — truly trust — what size paper would you need? I needed the back of a receipt. There are ten names on this scrap of paper. Ten people I know would never share any of my confidences, never twist the personal things of …

Professorial logic

There are many plausible explanations for why men commit nearly all murders and start most wars. It could be that we’re just hard-wired to smash skulls. Or perhaps it’s that we’ve learned how much chicks dig a man in uniform. Or maybe, according to Jesse Prinz, philosophy professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, it’s because …

A boy grows

Yesterday was Stephen Caleb’s birthday. He’s twelve, and there are now only 364 days between him and the onset of teenagerism, which I associate — at least among American kids — with sloth and self-indulgence, ignorance and idiocy and all-around brain malfunction, the latter now being scientifically proven at last. We are all of us …

On the Virtue of Hemlock

In his recent Boston Review essay, philosophy professor Carlos Fraenkel manages the neat trick of advocating a sensible position — that high-school students should be taught philosophy — so ineptly that he ends up proving the opposite, namely, that while it may be the case that students should learn philosophy, this is quite independent from …

On the virtues of snake-killing

Some of you know about my long-running battles with snakes. You’ll understand, therefore, why I so appreciate Jonah Goldberg’s jeremiad against snake-enabling military-industrial complexes, and beyond that, his bloody-minded willingness to harness good old American entrepreneurial violence in order to kill the big ones. An excerpt: “You see, I don’t think we need a vast …

Expert Offense

Some of you may like my latest Image post, even though (or maybe because) it ranges from E.O. Wilson to homosexuality to Michael Polanyi to engineers to literature to the Dewey Decimal System to sparking revolution with bedtime stories. Here’s an excerpt: “. . . I confess I enjoy seeing scientists upset. Whenever you stumble …

Lessons

“Dad,” asks Isaac, “do you think it was disrespectful of you to leave the music playing while we prayed?” “I guess so. I’m sorry. God will forgive me.” I notice the boy is wearing a big triangular colonial soldier hat. “Do you think it was disrespectful for you to wear that hat while we prayed?” Isaac …