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Opinion > Issues

They’ll Believe in Anything: Study says atheists are more irrational

They’ll Believe in Anything: Study says atheists are more irrational A new Gallup study, “What Americans Really Believe,” suggests that if anti-religious crusaders Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins want a more rational, less superstitious world, they should encourage people to go to church.  A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that, according to the study… “…traditional Christian… READ MORE >


Reviews > Books

Roth’s Wrath

Roth’s Wrath It’s not quite a twist on the level of The Sixth Sense (I read dead people?), but you may raise an eyebrow fifty-or-so pages into Indignation: our narrator is not only unreliable, he may not be corporeal. Philip Roth’s idea of the Afterlife is apparently similar to his idea of Old Age: mourn lost youth, nurse grudges, and rage… READ MORE >


Reviews > Music

Lord, Can You Hear Me?

Lord, Can You Hear Me? Sometime last year, Spiritualized frontman, Jason Pierce, found himself in the UK equivalent of the E.R, the Accident & Emergency ward, undergoing treatment for double-pneumonia. It would be tempting to conclude that this brush with mortality inspired Pierce’s latest album’s worth of death-haunted sonic swells, Songs in A &… READ MORE >


Opinion > Culture

Tom Stoppard, Freedom Fighter

Tom Stoppard, Freedom Fighter Tom Stoppard, the witty British playwright most famous for his mind-bending twist on Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, is the feature of an Observer article on human rights. Stoppard’s plays are like Samuel Beckett by way of Oscar Wilde, with detours to Bardland—postmodern riffs on Big Themes like love and death and liberty,… READ MORE >

(2) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    drama | freedom | human rights

Reviews > Books

How to avoid the next war

How to avoid the next war If you’re concerned about where Republican fear-mongering on the war on terror might lead us, don’t turn to the Democrats, who when it counted caved in to Bush on the Iraq War (and now mostly echo McCain/Palin’s position on the Middle East). Instead, go to clear-eyed foreign policy realists like Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski… READ MORE >


News > Faith

Libertarian Heresy

You don't often find Commonweal hunting heretics. In the latest issue, Daniel Finn takes aim at Fr. Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute and other Catholics who force fit Catholic social teaching into free market ideology. Sirico, he says, "uses his tendentious view of law and morality to conclude that raising taxes to help others is unchristian, since citizens have no choice but to pay the tax... One wonders if this conviction hasn’t been engendered by a libertarian view of government actions, where such redistribution is always immoral." Commonweal isn't alone in recognizing this distortion of Church teaching, which has always recognized the authority of government to balance private property rights with the "universal destination of goods." There is a silent majority of orthodox Catholics who resent Acton and other Catholic think tanks that are so well-funded by wealthy pro-big business donors that they're able to drown out genuine Catholic social teaching. Finn thinks its time that "neoconservative Catholics inquire into the influence of libertarianism on their work and, most importantly, that they make Catholic moral theology the standard for judging right-wing claims about morality in economic life-and not the other way around." READ MORE >


Opinion > Culture

Adam and Eve make a stand in California

Adam and Eve make a stand in California You connect the dots: A California couple refuses to submit to the state’s new “gender-neutral” marriage license that replaces bride and groom with “Party A” and “Party B.” Buried within a Scientific American article on storytelling and the brain (cited by John Murphy below) is a fascinating discovery made by “literary Darwinists”… READ MORE >


News > Business

The Fleecing of America

Yes, greed fueled the crisis, but Cohen pinpoints what's unique about our penchant for financial manias: "...the U.S. economy is being socialized to the tune of $700 billion ($2,000 for every man, woman and child in the country) as a result of a giant mortgage-related Ponzi scheme... Let’s be clear: this is an American mess forged by the American genius for new-fangled financial instruments in an era where the mantra has been that government is dumb and the markets are smart and risk is non-existent." READ MORE >


Opinion > Science/Tech

Secrets of storytelling

Secrets of storytelling Having just read a collection of masterful short-stories by Tobias Wolff, the issue of what makes storytelling such an intrinsic, necessary part of the human condition has been at the forefront of my mind. An article in the most recent issue of Scientific American approaches this age-old question from a left-brained perspective: “Popular… READ MORE >

(5) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    brain | cognition | empathy | love | storytelling

Reviews > Books

Twice-told Tales

Twice-told Tales Our Story Begins collects new and older short-stories by Tobias Wolff, one of America’s acknowledged masters of the genre. Wolff-hounds will recognize canonical works like “Hunters in the Snow,” “Bullet in the Brain,” and “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs,” short-form masterpieces that have… READ MORE >

(1) COMMENT  |  TOPICS:    dante | o. henry | short stories

Opinion > Culture

Vatican Searching for Next Raphael. Or Roy Lichtenstein?

Vatican Searching for Next Raphael. Or Roy Lichtenstein? The Catholic Church used to be Western Civ's pre-eminent patron of art and architecture. But the past few hundred years have seen the Vatican slowly transition from commissioner to collector, safeguarding the long and luminous tradition of Church art. Tantalizing signs of change are looming, however. Newsweek is reporting on the Vatican's… READ MORE >

(3) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    architecture | art | patron | vatican

Reviews > Movies

League of Morons

League of Morons After doing the damn near impossible—making last year's damn near perfect No Country For Old Men—who could blame the Coen brothers for blowing off a little steam? Burn After Reading returns to the anarchic comedy of Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski, but with diminished returns. Like the suitcase full of cash in No Country,… READ MORE >

(1) COMMENT  |  TOPICS:    coen brothers | comedy | farce

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