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The Truth about Public Transportation

is that it’s public, so when the young man the size and shape of Biggie Smalls squeezes into the seat next to me on the Amtrak bound for Chicago, there’s nothing I can do but bear it, try to finesse and fidget some elbow room. And the public nature of this northbound train makes it impossible not to hear the chatter of the family directly in front of me: white mother, black stepfather, her pudgy teen daughter—at least that’s my rickety guess as we stutter past rotted-out... Read More

Politics, Virtues, and Struggle: An Interview with Cornel West

The renowned philosopher and social critic Cornel West has been faculty at Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Haverford, the University of Paris, and Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Among his large corpus of written material, West is best known for his books Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and in this interview with David Horstkoetter, West revisits ideas of race and democracy, especially in the context of Christianity. More particularly, West discusses his own theological... Read More

My Body for You: Meditations on Sacrifice as a Theme in Contemporary Art

(Click on the image to open Bruce Herman’s art exhibit in a resizable browser.)   Sacrifice is a dirty word. It is smeared with the blood of a thousand brutal religions and the ritual mob violence of much human history. Another dirty word is martyr, which seems to suggest a suspicious air of superiority or sanctimoniousness. So why am I drawn to these words—sacrifice and martyrdom? I have an intuition that there is a connection between beauty and sacrifice, between... Read More

Anarchist Imperatives and Fundamental Change

Amid the winter snows of January, 1776, a journeyman printer and sometime pamphleteer named Thomas Paine took it upon himself to change the political direction of the American colonies. A relative newcomer to New England, Paine had quickly become sensitive to the basic complaints of the colonists against the mother country, and he had gradually discerned the underlying tensions that had brought the relationship to a deadlock. Two years earlier the First Continental Congress... Read More