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February 5, 2016
The inside dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence

The top floor of Giotto’s campanile—just a few feet below the very peak—is 414 ever-narrowing steps above the pavement. That puts you almost at eye level with tourists who stand at the base of the lantern that sits atop Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome, the crowning symbol of Florence and, perhaps, of the entire Renaissance.

A light mist fell today as I looked the length of the duomo and at that magnificent, octagonal, and still-not-quite-finished dome. I imagined the double faith the...

February 2, 2016

Controversy concerning sports mascots has been raging in our culture for the past several decades. Many groups have found certain mascots offensive due to pejorative racial or ethnic epithets, such as the National Football League’s Washington Redskins. The clamor to change these mascots to something more palatable to modern sensibilities has been growing.

This campaign has taken aim not only at professional sports franchises but also colleges and universities. Recently, the University...

February 2, 2016

Should I believe in miracles? This question doesn’t pertain to whether I should believe in this miracle or that miracle. It has to do with whether I’m rationally justified in believing in miracles as such.

DAVID HUME’S WISDOM FOR THE WISE

The eightenth-century Scottish skeptic philosopher David Hume argued the wise man should not believe in miracles. The basis for his assertion was what might be called the “repeatability principle”—evidence...

January 27, 2016

Sara Winter, 24, is a summa cum laude graduate of the School of Hard Knocks, the curriculum of which featured an abusive father and brother, exposure to drug abuse, a stint in prostitution, a painful abortion, and the thick darkness of despair.

Winter is a pen name. It befits the harsh experiences she has undergone. Her real name is Sara Fernanda Giromini, and she became the face of FEMEN in Brazil. She got herself in the papers and in jail, having been arrested more than a...

January 26, 2016

The Hindu practice of raja yoga has become popular in Western culture, especially within the New Age movement. Chanting om while sitting in the lotus position is meant to make one consciously aware that all is one (monism) and all is God (pantheism).

That’s right! You read correctly. As a meditative technique, yoga is supposed to lead to knowledge that the tree is god, you are god, and I am god.

I would argue that such a technique is futile. No enlightenment can ever...