Good Friday, Good Bureaucrats, and the Good Roman

By |2019-04-19T11:08:10-05:00April 18th, 2019|

On this Good Friday, as we ponder the suffering Christ endured, we should not forget the pivotal role of that good and decent bureaucrat Pilate in facilitating that crime. Nor forget the bureaucratic crimes committed daily on the sacrificial altars of obedience and expedience. Thus spoke Nietzsche: “Must I add that, in the whole [...]

What Happens When We Don’t Talk About Virtue?

By |2019-04-10T17:06:47-05:00April 9th, 2019|

Although man is corrupt by nature, he is capable of acquiring virtues. He is born with a number of dangerous instincts, but he is capable of tempering and sometimes even stifling those instincts so that they do not flower into evil… The traditional virtues have all but disappeared from today’s language. Hardly anyone seriously [...]

Momentary Morality & Extended Ethics

By |2019-03-18T22:32:13-05:00March 18th, 2019|

Morality requires command-issuing universal law; ethics, on the other hand, demands natural and acquired personal qualities. One human being may indeed live with two moralities, one public, one private, and this duplicity is not always hypocritical; it may simply make life livable and prevent it from becoming worse. You have been reading and talking about [...]

The Beauty Contest

By |2019-02-25T09:23:38-05:00February 22nd, 2019|

The beauty contest illustrates the difficulty with the term for and maybe the very idea of gentlemanliness—are good and beautiful two criteria or one? If they are two, how are they related? Could the beautiful be whatever compellingly attracts? Furthermore, what is truly and justly compelling? Editor’s Note: This essay is part of a series dedicated [...]

Pillars of Liberty: The Moral Virtues

By |2019-02-22T15:26:25-05:00February 21st, 2019|

Dr. Louis Markos explains how the problem in today's education is not that virtue is forgotten, but that only certain "pseudo-virtues" are being taught. We're raising a generation of people who say, "Well, yeah, I do sleep around. But I recycle cans and so it's okay." We've thrown out the sins against morality and replaced [...]

Freedom’s Flaw in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

By |2019-02-09T14:24:15-05:00February 8th, 2019|

Mrs. Maisel must decide, like all other men and women who follow a path that separates them from their family, home, gods, and city, whether the allure of a life in the spotlight and the total freedom it promises is preferable to, or reconcilable with, the many good things she risks turning away from… [...]

The BBC: From Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde

By |2019-02-05T20:46:50-05:00February 5th, 2019|

The BBC, at its best, is like Dr. Jekyll. Although Jekyll might offer us delightful company for an hour or two, we must always be mindful that he can never really be trusted… The BBC never ceases to amaze me. At its best, it is simply the best there is; at its worst, it [...]

Kind Hearts, Deadly Sins, and How Movies Become Classics

By |2019-01-18T23:16:45-05:00January 18th, 2019|

The directors of the films Kind Hearts and Coronets and Se7en make use of the seven deadly sins and the parallel order that opposes them, which are the seven holy virtues: chastity, diligence, temperance, kindness, humility, patience, and charity... Earlier in the film Kind Hearts and Coronets (Ealing Studios, 1949), as the protagonist Louis Mazzini [...]

What Anti-Semites and Pro-Abortionists Have in Common

By |2019-01-15T11:46:04-05:00January 17th, 2019|

It is not about right and left but about right and wrong, and those who see politics in terms of right and wrong, and not in terms of right and left, will see parallels between the contempt of the anti-Semite towards the dignity of the human person and the contempt of the pro-abortionist towards [...]

Illiberal Lessons Learned Along the Way

By |2019-01-15T21:47:11-05:00January 15th, 2019|

I keep reminding myself to look beneath and beyond labels and remain focused on the individual. Because ultimately it is the individual who matters most and who is most deserving of praise or condemnation, affection or disdain. It is a surprisingly hard lesson to learn and to remember given the current political and cultural [...]

The Humanity of Huck Finn

By |2019-01-10T15:36:43-05:00January 9th, 2019|

Huckleberry Finn is no hero, though he does symbolize the American conscience at the time Mark Twain wrote, or at least the conscience Twain hoped for. Yes, Huckleberry Finn is a coming-of-age tale and a social criticism and satire, but it also asks crucial questions: Who actually changes? What type of American will change? Huckleberry [...]

On the Meaning of “Be Yourself”

By |2019-01-04T21:17:04-05:00January 4th, 2019|

It may seem paradoxical to find out that one of the great clarion calls of individuality, modernism, and liberality—“Be yourself”—turns out to be a profound declaration of classical ethics… “Stay true. Be you.” “Stay true to yourself.” “Be who you are.” “Just be yourself.” “You do you.” These slogans are part of the fundamental [...]

Pull Down Thy Vanity

By |2018-12-22T00:50:21-05:00December 21st, 2018|

There is something essentially comic about vanity. I ran into the phenomenon recently at the local fitness center where I have a membership. Everyone, I suspect, has seen the type: he lifts weights, often with a lot of noise, and he scorns machines like the treadmill or the elliptical trainer, much less — are [...]

Reflections on Imaginative Conservatism

By |2019-02-25T14:30:31-05:00December 17th, 2018|

Author's Note: I wish to dedicate this essay to a writer of books whose greatness is at once utterly at home in America and quite without spatio-temporal boundaries, Marilynne Robinson, who produces in reality the images I only analyze, and thereby not only saves but augments the tradition I love–the aboriginal imaginative conservative, one who [...]