Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year.
Rand Paul’s touching (and temporary) display of honesty on the Rachel Maddow show last week has triggered an enormous amount of criticism. Liberals and progressives have denounced as morally offensive Paul’s constitutional concerns about certain provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Conservatives, meanwhile, have taken to ridiculing Paul as a political novice who doesn’t know when to compromise his principles for the sake of expediency.
WITNESSING THEIR FAITH: RELIGIOUS INFLUENCE ON SUPREME COURT JUSTICES AND THEIR OPINIONS By Jay Alan Sekulow(Rowman & Littlefield, 349 pp., $27.95) I. THE CONFIRMATION OF JUSTICE Samuel Alito brings to five the number of Catholics on the Supreme Court of the United States. All Americans can be proud of this fact, or more precisely, proud of the fact that Alito’s religious affiliation never became an issue during his confirmation process.
The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success By Rodney Stark (Random House, 304 pp., $25.95) "Had the followers of Jesus remained an obscure Jewish sect," concludes Rodney Stark in his new book, "most of you would not have learned to read and the rest of you would be reading from hand-copied scrolls." I had always known that Jesus Christ was a pretty important person, but I had not quite realized that were it not for him, there would be no one to buy Rodney Stark's books. Jesus, Stark goes on, is responsible for more than liberating us from scrolls; t
The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human NatureSteven Pinker (Viking, 509 pp., $27.95) I. When the hoary old question of nature versus nurture comes around, sides form quickly. And as Leavis once remarked, whenever this is so, we can suspect that the differences have little to do with thinking. Still, the question certainly obsesses thinkers, and it crops up in various terminologies and under various rubrics: human essence versus historical accident, intrinsic nature versus social construction, nativism versus empiricism.
Civic Ideals: Conflicting Views of Citizenship in U.S. History by Rogers M. Smith (Yale University Press, 719 pp., $35) A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case called Lorelyn Penero Miller v. Madeleine K. Albright, and some of the drama of the case is encapsulated in the petitioner's name. Twenty-seven years ago in the Philippines, Lorelyn Penero Miller was born out of wedlock.