The Prospero of Theologians

This is the most varied and enchanting collection of essays that has appeared in my lifetime. I say “enchanting” deliberately because every one of these pages left me with the impression that enchantment, in the sense of having been sung to or charmed, is the effect David Bentley Hart appears most to have sought. These 50-odd pieces leave the reader not merely delighted but under a kind of spell.

R.I.P. Chuck Berry

I have in front of me an LP whose white cover features comic-book-style illustrations. Pop Origins is easily one of the best compilation albums ever released; it was put out by Chess in 1969 to introduce younger children to the vastly more talented black artists whose songs—”Spoonful,” “Little Red Rooster,” “Susie Q”—had been covered by popular …

Big Data Comes to the Bookstore

This is one of those books about literature clearly not intended for people who have much experience with the subject. The target audience is, I gather, not so much people who read Faulkner or the dozens of other authors whose works are analyzed, quantified, probed, and all-around violated here as those who like the idea of having read Faulkner and, more important, like to imagine a world in which they have clever things to say about him. They certainly aren’t the sorts of people who can be trusted to have heard of even very famous writers or books, as the unrelenting journalistic hum of “Charlotte’s Web author E.B. White” and “Popular crime writer P.D. James” makes clear.

BREAKING: CBO Says Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Lead to More Births

In my four or so years of journalism I have never read a report produced by the Congressional Budget Office. Yesterday I learned why. Here is the first paragraph of “Budget Reconciliation Recommendations of the House Committees on Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce, March 9, 2017”: The Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for …

My Wife Decided to Join the Womens Strike—Here’s What Happened Next

The life of a househusband is sort of like that of a character in one of those post-apocalyptic zombie movies where they live in a fortified bunker and try to keep the relentlessly kinetic but fine motor skills-challenged menace at bay. The first thing you do, assuming you don’t find yourself faced with a full-on assault, is repair existing fortifications. By 10:30 I had added a layer of shirts and jackets to the exercise bike lodged between the right side of the couch and one of the bookshelves; one more box of books added to the gap on the other side was, I figured, more than enough to keep Number One away from the books and records and sharped-edged furniture in the living room.

Here is definitive proof that reporters are the laziest people on the planet

Journalists are the laziest people on planet earth. They spend all their time on Twitter, except for when they’re working, which is to say, writing about what people are doing on Twitter. Not just the president or Kellyanne Conway or Chelsea Clinton either. Total randos. Take an item I saw in the Washington Post this morning: …

Obama’s ‘Greatest’ Speeches Have Been Collected in One Book. Here’s a Brutally Honest Assessment


American political oratory has been going steadily downhill since at least Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy,” if not since the Gettysburg Address. To be sure, there have been some recent bright spots. Nixon’s “Checkers” speech was a brilliant piece of rhetoric from a man who has never been given enough credit, for good or ill, for his ability to articulate the feelings of millions his fellow Americans. No one, even those of us who aren’t quite sure what it means, will ever forget Kennedy’s famous chiasmus; and the elder Bush’s “thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky” is a lovely and memorable mini-paean to diversity.

Are You Ready For the Coming Chafee Moment?

Regular Beacon readers will remember that my first full-time writing job at this publication was Chafee correspondent during the last election. It was very short-lived, alas. On October 23, scarcely a week after his breakout, “I’ve never had a scandal” performance at the first Democratic presidential debate, he stunned the world by announcing to those of …

CNN Discovers New English Word: ‘Whom’s’

Continuing what has been a scoop-filled banner year for the Atlanta-based media company’s ‘Money’ vertical, reporters at CNN discovered a new word Friday: “whom’s.” It was in the course of their research into the background of Andrew Puzder, the former CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants and President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the …