Czeslaw Milosz: Poet Laureate of Freedom

[A review of Milosz: A Biography by Andrzej Franasszek, edited and translated by Aleksandra and Michael Parker, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge University, 2017, 526 pp., $35] “What is poetry which does not save/Nations or people?” – Czeslaw Milosz (“Dedication”) In the 1970s – the last full decade before Poland finally freed itself from the shackles of communist control –Lech Walesa, the leader of Solidarity, the Soviet bloc’s first trade union, was arrested on more than one occasion. Continue Reading...

Review: A visually powerful tribute to The Dunkirk Spirit

In a new blockbuster film, director Christopher Nolan faithfully captures for the big screen the frantic chaos and desperation of the Allied forces at Dunkirk in 1940. It is another vivid reminder that, as so many throughout history have reminded us, “War is hell.” Those who know their history understand that on the French beaches of the Strait of Dover, the Allied forces are thrown once again into another world conflict, this time to protect Western freedom and its democratic ideals. Continue Reading...

Arvo Pärt on the economy of wonder

Our society has grown increasingly transactional in its ways of thinking, whether about family, business, education, or politics. Everything we spend, steward, or invest — our money, time, and relationships — must somehow secure an immediate personal return or reward, lest it be cast aside as “wasteful.” As an overarching philosophy of life, such an approach fails not due only due to its narrow individualism, but also to its cramped obsession with scarcity, standing in stark contrast with the lavish abundance and gratuitous generosity of the Gospel. Continue Reading...

Lenin’s Trip to Infamy

One hundred years ago, the man Winston Churchill dubbed a “plague bacillus” journeyed back from his exile in Europe to eventually seize the reins of power in his native Russia. Vladimir Lenin’s itinerary could not have been more fraught with peril and subterfuge, which makes it an ideal framing story for a recap of the rise of 20th century totalitarianism. Continue Reading...

When morality evaporates

When Tzvetan Todorov died on Feb. 7, the Bulgarian/French philosopher and literary critic was lamented only in certain intellectual ghettoes. To the men and women eulogizing Todorov in these circles, he was feted properly if not stingily, which is most unfortunate. Continue Reading...