Without a Doubt
April 03, 2006
CATHOLIC MATTERS: CONFUSION, CONTROVERSY, AND THE SPLENDOR OF TRUTH By Richard John Neuhaus (Basic Books, 272 pp., $25) Liberal modernity exasperates traditional religion. It fosters a pluralism that denies any one faith the power to organize the whole of social life. It teaches that public authorities must submit to the consent of those over whom they aspire to rule, thereby undermining the legitimacy of all forms of absolutism. It employs the systematic skepticism of the scientific method to settle important questions of public policy.
The Siegfried Line
February 20, 2006
SIEGFRIED SASSOON: A LIFE By Max Egremont (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 597 pp., $27) I. WHAT, IF ANYTHING, do Americans know, or think they know, about Siegfried Sassoon? To judge by Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, not very much. There they will find four short and surprisingly limp passages from Sassoon’s war poetry, which give no idea of the hysterical loathing, fear, and compassion that generated them (the only one that might have done so is carefully removed from its context).
February 20, 2006
The riots currently engulfing the Islamic world, prompted by a Danish newspaper’s decision to caricature the Prophet Mohammed, require two responses. The first is easy: horror. In the physical assault on Denmark’s embassies and citizens, and in the diplomatic assault on Denmark’s government—all because a free government won’t muzzle a free press—multiculturalism has become totalitarianism. Religious sensitivity, say the zealots marching from Beirut to Jakarta, matters more than liberty. Indeed, it matters more than life itself.
February 14, 2006
Two weeks ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to refer the matter of Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council. There is plenty to like about the IAEA resolution, starting with the large majority it commanded among the organization's member states--even the usually recalcitrant Russians and Chinese signed on.
February 06, 2006
Cachè (Hidden) (Sony Pictures Classics THE NEW FILM YEAR BEGAN in at least one heartening way: Daniel Auteuil arrived in a new picture. This French actor is so incredibly credible, so unostentatiously fine, that he makes his way from film to film without attracting the hoopla that attends more consciously virtuosic actors. I mention here only two of his many roles. In The Widow of Saint-Pierre, set on that French island, Auteuil was a nineteenth-century army captain whose spiritual tenor changes while he waits for the arrival of a guillotine to execute a murderer in his charge. In Apres Vous,
December 12, 2005
In September, the world watched the ringleader of the July 7 London terrorist attack, his voice inflected with a West Yorkshire accent, preach jihad in English. Al Jazeera aired the communiqu? of 30-year-old Mohammad Sidique Khan, which Khan recorded to explain why he helped murder over 50 of his fellow Britons on a bus and in the Underground. "Until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment, and torture of my people, we will not stop this fight," Khan declared. "We are at war. I am a soldier.
October 10, 2005
Slow Man By J.M. Coetzee (Viking, 265 pp., $24.95) In the middle of J.M. Coetzee’s new novel, there comes a moment when the reader starts back in soft amazement, murmuring “What the ... ?” This moment occurs at the entrance into the action by the elderly Australian writer Elizabeth Costello, whom devotees of Coetzee will know from his previous novel, which was named after her, and from a curious and curiously memorable book, The Lives of Animals, based on the Tanner Lectures that he delivered some years ago at Princeton University.
July 25, 2005
Lila Says (Samuel Goldwyn) and My Summer of Love (Focus) Sex can be very helpful. For a screenwriter who wants to treat a subject that might seem insufficiently interesting to some viewers, a strong sexual element can serve as hook and medium. As multiple instances have shown, that sexual element can bring along the background material that may have been the first reason for making the picture. The latest example is Lila Says. The screenplay of this French film is by Ziad Doueiri, who is Lebanese-born and has done a lot of technical work in Hollywood, particularly for Quentin Tarantino.
The Missing Joy
July 04, 2005
Perfect Madness By Judith Warner (Riverhead, 327 pp., $23.95) How She Really Does It: Secrets of Successful Stay-At-Work Moms By Wendy Sachs (Da Capo, 205 pp., $19.95 White House Nannies By Barbara Kline (Tarcher/Penguin, 238 pp., $23.95) I Midway through my first pregnancy, I began to receive mailings from a company called “One Step Ahead,” which promised “thoughtfully selected products to help with baby … every step of the way.” My son’s needs were still simple, satisfied by umbilical cord and placenta, but once he arrived, I came to understand, matters would get more complicated.
The Missing Joy
July 04, 2005
Perfect Madness By Judith Warner (Riverhead, 327 pp., $23.95) How She Really Does It: Secrets of Successful Stay-at-Work Moms By Wendy Sachs (Da Capo, 205 pp., $19.95) White House Nannies By Barbara Kline (Tarcher/Penguin, 238 pp., $23.95) I. Midway through my first pregnancy, I began to receive mailings from a company called "One Step Ahead," which promised "thoughtfully selected products to help with baby ...