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Criticism

Recent Issue

Children of Doubt [private]

Pascal’s wager—that saw of Christian apologetics—is conventionally understood to demonstrate that human beings deny the Christian God’s existence at the risk of perdition. The seventeenth-century French polymath Blaise Pascal weighed the infinite torment awaiting unbelievers under God’s Providence against the finite pleasures of living as an atheist in a godless universe. He concluded, regardless of the deity’s actual existence, that the only rational choice is to adopt cautious belief.


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Working It Out [private]

A later episode of the debut Showtime series Couples Therapy features a wedding montage. Harvested from personal archives, the footage depicts real-life couples in their respective matrimonial costumes. They smile and preen for the camera, appearing as they should in their tuxedos and lovely white dresses: euphoric, beguiled, never more full of love and promise.


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Family Matters [private]

On Mother’s Day 2019, I take Mama to the home of her best childhood friend for dinner. Her friend’s family includes a sister, a brother, her friend’s father (still grinning in his midnineties), and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. Over a dozen people all told. They’re an outgoing, good-looking bunch.


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VQR Online

Making Sausages: Images of Governance

March 14, 2014

During recent snowbound days, I indulged in a bout of binging the second season of House of Cards, the celebrated political drama starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and a brilliantly cast supporting ensemble. Actually, I did the same binge with the [...]

A Gun and a Girl: The Case for Hard Case Crime

October 4, 2013

Any scan of the bestseller lists shows a national book culture awash in pulp. But all those hungry zombies, vengeful angels, vampire lovers, scrappy postapocalyptic teens, and fairy princess-warriors with wicked blades and toned physiques bear litt [...]

An Open Letter to Jonathan Franzen

September 20, 2013

  Jonathan Franzen at the 2011 Time 100 gala / by David Shankbone   Hi, Jonathan, I read your essay in the Guardian, and, I have to say, I’m worried about your professional legacy. I agree with some of what you had to say, disagre [...]