Gettysburg’s Headlines, Day Two (Don’t Worry, Be Happy)

On July 3, the New York Times announced its possession of “VERY IMPORTANT NEWS: Further Particulars of the Battle Near Gettysburg on Wednesday.”  The item that follows isn’t what the reader of a contemporary paper would expect: rather than redact their correspondent’s reports into an article, the Times devotes its front page to his of…

Gettysburg’s Headlines, Day One (The Fog of War)

At the beginning of July, 1863, Union newspapers were abuzz with reports of Lee’s invasion.  Headlines in the New York Times fell under the bold-print category “REBEL INVASION”: “Important Intelligence Regarding the Movements of Lee”; “Sudden Withdrawal of His Forces Before Harrisburgh”; etc.  The Philadelphia Inquirer worried over the safety of the state capital, posting…

Compensated Emancipation Was Tried — But Didn’t Work

Ta-Nehisi Coates takes the time to respond, with historical data, to the those who would claim the Civil War could have been avoided through a program of compensated emancipation.  He’s certainly right that this was impossible among slaveholders from the states that seceded — but it’s worth noting that we know compensated emancipation would not have…

Sunday Evening Theism

I wish I could offer a fuller response to the post Christopher’s “Sunday Morning Atheism.”  He raised, powerfully and cogently, some of the issues that do—or should—plague any believer.  Sincerity in a religious endeavor requires acknowledging our understanding of theodicy as insufficient.  Considering the existence of both evil and God is necessary—but necessarily leads, at…

Atheism, Paganism, and the God of Abraham

Several months ago, Rod Dreher, responding to several commenters on his blog, wondered whether a decline of Christianity in the West will lead to an atheistic society or a pagan one.  There are, to be sure, plenty of begged questions in this scenario, but Dreher’s preference may be surprising to some: Personally, I find paganism…

For Anyone Interested

In addition to writing at the League, I’m now contributing to First Thoughts on a similar range of subjects — the books, movies, music, and ideas that strike my fancy — that I write about here at the League.  (Where I’ll still be writing!)  My first post is on “the novel of belief” and Jewish demography.

Translation as Commentary (or, Commentary as Translation?)

It is September, which means—inevitably—that I find myself thinking about Paul Celan’s “Todesfugue,” this time (the first time) as a teacher.  It is hardly easy, in subject matter or in style—it is credited for being the target of Adorno’s, “Poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric,” and the exception that made him back away, ever so slightly,…

Evil at Dawn

At the New Yorker, Rollo Roming argues that calling James Holmes and/or Jerry Sandusky “evil” raises more questions than it answers.  The concept of evil has been tossed into “confusion” and “tatters” by the events of modern human history (the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and the Holocaust are the two causal examples).  But its use persists,…