Can the American people and their representatives set aside their immediate interests and attachments and “think constitutionally” about the presidency, and about how we choose presidents? Some scholars hope so. But the passionate partisanship of the most attentive Americans, and the inattentiveness and apathy of the least partisan Americans, make this hope seem forlorn indeed.
Author: Matthew J. Franck (Matthew Franck)
What is it that makes screwball comedies so much fun? With their manic scripts and their depiction of characters of both sexes who will say anything and do anything for love, they bring together men and women—whose senses of humor often differ sharply—to laugh at the same crazy antics, and to see what mad joy love can be. In the summer of COVID, as we stay home with our loved ones, the screwball may be just what the doctor ordered.
For reasons that pass all understanding, modern academic disciplines are where English prose goes to die. Fortunately, profound and compelling historical writing has a history of its own that predates the modern research university by two and a half millennia, stretching back to Herodotus in the fifth century BC. Such a tradition is resistant to the chloroform of the modern academy, so long as gifted storytellers find publishers and readers.
Like the spirit of liberty itself, the spirit of liberal education is “not too sure that it is right.” As colleges and universities are beset by the twin challenges of the pandemic and of ideological activism, will we able to keep that spirit of inquiry alive?
Americans love America because it is their own and because it is good. Our ability to detach ourselves from America and decry its injustices only increases our attachment to it as a continuing project that is truly our own.
The best depictions of fathers in classic films.
Accommodation and half measures—the stuff of everyday political life—will not do when we encounter the politics of mastery and subjugation. Aristotle’s “partnership of free persons” demands more.
Each of the books I mention here can help us to be conscious—to be “in the know,” which is what Austen meant by the word—thus using the gift of speech in ways that accord with our nature as “the reflexive animal,” as Lewis calls us, governed by “the inner lawgiver” (Lewis again) of our conscience. And these conjoined obligations—to our nature and to our speech—are why even pronouns are a field of battle that truth-tellers should not surrender.
Wodehouse’s work, from virtually any period of his long career, is amazingly consistent. One learns after a while that when one begins a Wodehouse story, satisfaction is guaranteed. Like a fresh whisky and soda, his work promises an easing of the tensions of daily life, an invitation to merriment, and a quiet contentment that in the end all will be well.
The point of recent attacks on Dr. Paul McHugh is not to take him down. Rather, it is to signal to every other mental health and medical professional in the country—from psychiatrists to endocrinologists to surgeons to therapists and counselors—that the ideology of transgenderism will brook no dissent.
John Ford’s America is a good deal like Ford himself—loud, brawling, and hard-charging. Ford’s Americans are also honorable, self-sacrificing, and faithful to their promises. That’s not the whole truth about America, not by a long shot. But it’s true enough that in John Ford’s films, we will forever see something of ourselves.
There is a great deal to be learned about the virtues and vices by following the long and eventful lives of D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. And isn’t this finally what good novels of any kind do for us—present the fullness of human characters for our consideration, so that we may reflect on our own characters?
What can human beings endure? How can they adapt to radical changes in their environment and in themselves? How will their choices reshape their society? Science fiction at its best invites us to consider such questions at the extremes of human experience.
Chief Justice John Roberts complained five years ago, in the Obergefell marriage case, of some of his colleagues’ “extravagant conception of judicial supremacy.” To understand how such a conception has come to grip the judicial mind, studies of some of the Supreme Court’s most notable cases make for instructive reading.
While you’re stuck at home, why not elevate your viewing with some classic films from the golden age of American filmmaking?
We Christians must suffer through our Lents, however short or long they are. Sometimes they can be stormy seasons, or ages spent in empty wastes. But we are Easter people, with our faces turned toward the springtime sun that we love, and toward the Son who taught us how to love.
Reading good history books takes us out of ourselves and places us, for a time, elsewhere and elsewhen. In our isolation, with our minds so preoccupied with the pandemic and its economic and social effects, such an escape can be just what the doctor ordered.
Some prejudices are good to have, some are bad, some are indifferent. Acquiring an education is learning to discriminate the good prejudices one carries about from the bad ones—to keep the former, as confirmed by knowledge, and discard the latter, as condemned by knowledge.
Like Abraham Lincoln, a growing number of our young people are “unchurched.” As a result, our “us vs. them” politics functions as a substitute for religious observance, membership, and devotion. If there were more authentic religious practice in our society, there might be less of the bitterly partisan politics that divide our country.
For ten years, Public Discourse has drawn on the insights of academics and scholars, political and legal advocates, and men and women of letters to offer the reading public thought-provoking reflections on the timeliest issues and the most timeless dilemmas of our public life.
Leslie Rubin’s portrait of Aristotelian America and American Aristotelianism is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of our situation.
As the late Justice Scalia was fond of pointing out, the views of individual lawmakers in the midst of debate are not themselves the law we must interpret. Neither are the votes taken in a deliberative body rightly viewed as votes on anyone’s interpretation of the text under discussion. The text that they passed, not what they said about what they passed, is the law.
Ryan T. Anderson has written the definitive book on the transgender phenomenon—ranging across medicine, psychology, culture, sociology, law, and public policy. In doing so, he may have saved the minds and bodies—indeed, the very lives—of people he will never know.
Even when its nomination process is broken enough to give us such a man as Donald Trump for our president, the party establishment has shown a remarkable capacity to fill the voids created by his inattention and to guide many of his most important policy decisions.
Love of country and love of the Constitution—a simple and pure patriotism matched with a sophisticated historical sensibility—run through a new collection of Justice Antonin Scalia’s speeches.