Humanities

The Lives of Beowulf

Stephen Mitchell— It’s something of a miracle that any of our ancient literary masterpieces survived the downfall or shift of civilizations, since they all might easily have been lost. Of Heraclitus’s profound insights, we have only tantalizing fragments. Of Sappho’s nine books, there remain just four poems and scattered verses

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Color Codes

David Scott Kastan— Up until the eighteenth century, Asian people appeared white to European eyes. Sometime early in 1515, a Portuguese merchant named Tomé Pires sent a detailed account of his three years of Asian travel to King Manuel I and described the people he met there as “white, just

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American and Israeli Jews Tell Different Truths About the Holocaust

Hannah Pollin-Galay— “The End of the Jewish People is Here.” This is not a headline from the 1940’s but from June 2018. It appeared as one of many articles reporting on a survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee, which polled American and Israeli Jews on a range of contemporary

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Two Rocks in the Holy Land

Gabriel Said Reynolds— A traveler walking along the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem could be forgiven for missing the ruins of the Kathisma Church. The ruins, found just past a gas station and just before the Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Elias, are overgrown with weeds and strewn with rubble,

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What Happened to Enlightenment?

Caroline Winterer— What happened to enlightened ideas after the long eighteenth century? As more scholars are placing ideals of enlightenment in their global contexts, we are learning that the conventional understandings of the fate of enlightenment no longer hold. Enlightenment did not end with the movement called Romanticism, its ideals

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The Future of War

A.C. Grayling— The history of drones is surprisingly long, as a special form of ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’ (UAV) long since developed to undertake tasks considered ‘too dull, dirty or dangerous’ for human beings. UAVs were in rudimentary use before the First World War for target practice, they served as flying

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Ep. 61 – On Color

We’re talking about color this week—where it comes from, how we see it, and its role in our lives.   Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify

Political Cartoons in the Digital Age

David Francis Taylor— In 2004 Morten Morland published a cartoon in the Times that took aim at Anglo-American attempts to broker peace between Israel and Palestine. He did so by adapting a much older image: James Gillray’s “Sin, Death, and the Devil” of 1792. Gillray’s caricature responded to the sacking

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Baptism

Peter Marshall— Imitation of Christ began with becoming a Christian. That was the easy part. It happened within days of being born, when a baby was baptized in the stone font usually found, in symbolic placement, near the entrance of the church. The ceremony involved a ritual cleansing with water,

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Authoritarianism, Dialogue, and the Future of the Catholic Church

Piotr H. Kosicki— The year was 1947. The Cold War was just beginning. Much of Europe still lay in ruins following the devastation of the Second World War, and displaced persons were struggling to find their place in a world riven by the Holocaust, atomic warfare, and collapsing colonial empires.

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