Magazine March 23, 2009, Issue

Shelf Life

The transformation of the judiciary into an activist legislator of social change has been one of the most remarked-upon — and, among conservatives, decried — political developments of the past century. In Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence (ISI, 241 pp., $25), political philosopher Bradley C. S. Watson does an impressive job of analyzing how, exactly, this happened. The judges of today play a dramatically different role than was envisioned for them in the Constitution, largely because they no longer consider themselves primarily as backward-looking servants of timeless truths embodied in that document. Instead, notes Watson, they view themselves as mediators of progress away from — that is to say, up from — the ideas of the original Constitution. Two late-19th-century currents of thought combined to make this shift possible: social Darwinism and pragmatism. The common thread between the two was a philosophy of history that made it easy to relativize ideas of the past, and thus the Constitution itself. Writes Watson: “Having rooted itself so firmly in the thought that guides the Western world as a whole, and having gained so much strength and momentum on its virtually uninterrupted path, [the new jurisprudence] will not be slowed down, or wiped clean, any time soon. Its success is marked by the fact that it no longer seeks victory, only legitimation in a constitutional system still at odds with it.”

‐ One of the most remarkable recent success stories in publishing is Crossway’s English Standard Version translation of the Bible. In the face of an unprecedented glut of Bible translations, the ESV, which came out in 2001, has managed to win a great deal of acceptance among conservative readers looking for a relatively literal modern rendering. A couple of recent editions may make it even more popular: The massive new ESV Study Bible (Crossway, 2,752 pp., $49.99) is now the best conservative study Bible on the market — a comprehensive resource with clearly designed maps and diagrams as well as exhaustive notes. And Oxford’s new English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha (1,446 pp., $25) includes the books traditionally omitted by the Protestant canon — and thus makes the ESV more useful to Catholic and Orthodox readers. Even before this ecumenical edition, the prominent Catholic theologian Fr. Richard John Neuhaus called the ESV “quite splendid”; I think he would have agreed it’s getting even better.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

Pumping Up Joe

Here’s how I handle a crying baby: I unwrap it a bit — babies always seem too tightly swaddled, in my opinion — and then I take it outside, into ...

Features

Politics & Policy

Rocky Ride

The day before Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination at Invesco Field in Denver, a group of progressive activists gathered nearby to discuss what Democrats call the “Colorado miracle.” The ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Why Do They Fight?

A thoughtful former infantry officer, David Kilcullen is respected in military circles: He knows his way around a battlefield, and wrote his Ph.D. thesis on insurgency in Indonesia. This is, ...
Politics & Policy

The Way We Live Now

Last year, Kay Hymowitz published two essays in City Journal, the Manhattan Institute’s fine quarterly, on dating and the modern twentysomething male. The first was a critique of the culture ...
City Desk

Duty Dance

Although it is not full day, the day has begun. The sun is up, life stirs. The Watchers line the way. None of us can remember a time when they ...
Politics & Policy

Shelf Life

The transformation of the judiciary into an activist legislator of social change has been one of the most remarked-upon — and, among conservatives, decried — political developments of the past ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

At These Costs Richard Nadler’s piece “At What Cost?” (February 23) states that “attempts to remove illegals have diminished the conservative movement.” The piece reflects the false choice often presented to ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ An overreaching plan for government-run health care, big ideas from Newt Gingrich, Clinton and Netanyahu preparing to face off in the Middle East, the Dow at 6,700 . . ...
Happy Warrior

U.S., Eh?

Writing about Europe a couple of pages back, I didn’t mention Canada — mainly because Canada isn’t in Europe, although it has a European mien. But, when I do raise ...
The Bent Pin

Land Sakes!

It’s true what they say about ill winds blowing somebody some good. The mortgage meltdown has ripped the halo from homeowners and lifted the crown of thorns that has long ...
The Long View

Larry King Live!

Transcript: March 19, 2010 LARRY KING: From Concord, California! Hello! CALLER: Hi, Larry. I’d just like to say to the family on your show that I thank them for what they’re doing ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT Imagine that huge ogre glaring green Burst in this Christmas, snorting on a charger, Flashing a hatchet, holding a bright sprig Of holly, thundering his cold steel challenge. Comic almost ...

Most Popular

Culture

On the Letter

I thought it right to congratulate John MacArthur and Harper’s magazine on putting together an open letter in defense of intellectual liberty — including the liberty to make mistakes -- as a necessary component of social justice. And further congrats on assembling its broad church of signatories. MacArthur ... Read More
Culture

On the Letter

I thought it right to congratulate John MacArthur and Harper’s magazine on putting together an open letter in defense of intellectual liberty — including the liberty to make mistakes -- as a necessary component of social justice. And further congrats on assembling its broad church of signatories. MacArthur ... Read More
Media

The Media’s War on Words

I recently ran across a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer that lays out four racist words and phrases that should be banished from the English language. It begins like this: Editor’s note: Please be aware offensive terms are repeated here solely for the purpose of identifying and analyzing them honestly. ... Read More
Media

The Media’s War on Words

I recently ran across a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer that lays out four racist words and phrases that should be banished from the English language. It begins like this: Editor’s note: Please be aware offensive terms are repeated here solely for the purpose of identifying and analyzing them honestly. ... Read More
U.S.

COVID’s Comeback

We’re living in Groundhog Day. For the second time this year, COVID-19 is sweeping the country and we don’t have any great options for dealing with it. We didn’t squander the past four months, exactly, but we demonstrably failed to get to a place where we can enjoy an open society without the virus taking ... Read More
U.S.

COVID’s Comeback

We’re living in Groundhog Day. For the second time this year, COVID-19 is sweeping the country and we don’t have any great options for dealing with it. We didn’t squander the past four months, exactly, but we demonstrably failed to get to a place where we can enjoy an open society without the virus taking ... Read More

Year Zero

Every cultural revolution starts at year zero, whether explicitly or implicitly. The French Revolution recalibrated the calendar to begin anew, and the genocidal Pol Pot declared his own Cambodian revolutionary ascension as the beginning of time. Somewhere after May 25, 2020, the death of George Floyd, while ... Read More

Year Zero

Every cultural revolution starts at year zero, whether explicitly or implicitly. The French Revolution recalibrated the calendar to begin anew, and the genocidal Pol Pot declared his own Cambodian revolutionary ascension as the beginning of time. Somewhere after May 25, 2020, the death of George Floyd, while ... Read More