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Excellence and the Emersonian Perfectionist: An Interview with Jeffrey Stout, Part I

In this wide-ranging interview, Jeffrey Stout reflects upon some of the themes of his 2004 book Democracy and Tradition. He also describes the personal and biographical motivations that have shaped his intellectual orientation, one he describes as “Emersonian Perfectionism,” including the impact that such writers as Emerson and Thoreau had upon his early thought. Stout’s reflections on Walden suggest that its discussion of “sleepers” had the same awakening effect... Read More

A Biblical Approach to Suicide Prevention: Where Did the Greeks Go Wrong?

Despite erroneous statements of some writers to the contrary, the Hebrew scriptures state clear and strong prohibitions against suicide and consider it to be an immoral act. The biblical prohibition against suicide derives from two sources: one from the Decalogue, “Thou shall not commit murder” (Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17), and the other from Noahide law, “For your lifeblood too, I will require a reckoning” (Gen. 9:5). The Hebrew scriptures also contain several additional... Read More

The Common Question

What does Charlie want? —John Greenleaf Whittier Oh, the unfairness of being myself. There ought to be a rule. So many days as a little boy, so many days as a deer, a centipede, a Masai warrior, a wealthy old lady with too many rings, on an ocean liner. And as a blacksnake, a woman with cold red hands hanging laundry, a boy picking dried corn out of the dust, a thirsty fox. Myself even, or especially, on a good day: unfair, unexplained. I want to be God, only without His mailbag. Just... Read More

Pride, Ego Injury, and the Gift of Grace

He was a humble man, proud of his craft. A pioneer immigrant, he had very little. But he had a skill. He was a carpenter. He built the pine boxes for the mothers, fathers, and children who didn’t always make it on the new frontier. The most difficult, I am sure, was the box for his eight-year old son and his thirty-nine year old wife. I draw a picture in my mind of this man with his rough-hewn hands polishing the wood until it shone, him weeping, the tears pushing him to create... Read More