Lincoln: Pretense to States Rights

This is the second of two blog entries on Abraham Lincoln’s Message to Congress in Special Session on July 4,1861. The first, Lincoln’s American People, appeared in this blog two weeks ago. This entry examines Lincoln’s choice and use of the word “pretense” in an important paragraph framing the central concerns of his speech. Both essays... Continue Reading →

Conservatism: Running on Empty

The terms conservative and liberal have a long currency in politics. Among other uses they mark ‘right’ and ‘left’ on the political spectrum. Republicans found it useful to invoke conservative principles in seeking to roll back Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation in the 1930s and 40s. They subsequently launched a ‘movement’ under the banner... Continue Reading →

Have a Little Self-Respect

A much loved teacher, when asked about teaching, attributed her success to the “culture of respect” she had been able to develop in her classrooms. Respect, she explained, opens the heart, as well as the mind, to the lives of others, generates empathy, and transforms the classroom into a vibrant learning community. Children discover that... Continue Reading →

Antonin Scalia’s War on Secularists

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in a January 2nd speech at Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie, Louisiana, told the audience that the constitution does not require government to be neutral between religion and non-religion. The separation clause of the First Amendment prevents government from favoring a particular faith, that is true, but it is... Continue Reading →

Atheism: Its Existential Problem

After reading the description of my recently published book, Abdication: God Steps Down for Good, people occasionally inquire whether I’m an atheist. I tell them that I’m basically agnostic and a hopeful theist. It would be wonderful, to my way of thinking, if a convivial, non-dictatorial God existed. It’s a lonely world out there in... Continue Reading →

Graceland: Barack Obama’s Third Inaugural

President Obama’s eulogy for Clementa Pinckney—massacred Pastor of Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina—was one of the finest I’ve heard, and deserves standing among the most important speeches in our history. Think about his problem for a moment. What could he say to the wife, daughters, extended family, colleagues, and co-religionists of a Pastor... Continue Reading →

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