Current Affairs

The Gift Economy of the Earliest Christians

Thomas R. Blanton IV— The apostle Paul, a Jewish preacher of the “good news” of Jesus of Nazareth, promoted a “spiritual economy” within the small groups of the early Christian movement in the middle of the first century CE. Although at first blush the phrase “spiritual economy” might appear to be

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William Shakespeare: Political Commentator

Peter Lake— It is, of course, notoriously difficult to say anything novel, or even arrestingly interesting, about Shakespeare. In fact, I never intended to write a book about Shakespeare at all. But I fell into a set of questions and interests that resulted in a book, if not simply by accident, then at

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Remembering the 1967 Six-Day War

Guy Laron— Are wars the result of accidents, compounded by misassessments, misunderstandings, and miscalculations? If this is true, there is no one to blame; according to this view, wars simply happen. But perhaps wars are born out of meticulous and willful planning by individuals and institutions that might benefit from war. If

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A Brief History of American Exceptionalism

Burton Mack— “American exceptionalism,” a term that is currently making the rounds among journalists, denotes those features of American self-understanding that distinguish it from other modern societies, especially European nation-states. Most of the features of note are characteristics familiar to most Americans with some sense of our history and the history of

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The Heart of the Abolitionist Movement

Manisha Sinha— Caricatured as unthinking, single-minded fanatics who caused a “needless war,” abolitionists are often compared unfavorably to political moderates and compromise-minded statesmen. Their resurrection as freedom fighters during the modern civil rights era has been relatively brief. It is often dismissed as neoabolitionist history. While a bland celebration of

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Groundwater: Overpumped, Undervalued, and Essential to Water and Food Security

William M. Alley and Rosemarie Alley— Groundwater is the source of drinking water for about half the world’s people, as well as the dominant source of household water in rural areas. Many large cities depend solely or largely on groundwater. Groundwater is also critical to food production, providing more than

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Trump, Putin, and the Uncertainty of U.S. Foreign Policy

Constantine Pleshakov— Barack Obama will be remembered fondly for a great number of things, but his foreign policy isn’t one of them. For all intents and purposes, the administration ran the “you break it, you run” shop: choose a foreign country that you understand the least, go in and turn

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The Substance of the Constitution: Rights, Structures, Conventions

Mark Tushnet— Donald Trump’s election and the first weeks of his presidency show us some of the ways in which the Constitution matters. When trying to understand how our constitutional system works, I like to identify three “parts” of the Constitution: rights, structures, and conventions. It’s easiest to focus our

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Criminal Politicians on the World Stage

Milan Vaishnav— On February 11, voters in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) began the process of selecting the 403 men and women who will represent them in their state legislature. In India, where elections are about as frequent as a new Bollywood blockbuster, the news of yet another

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Asian Migration and the History of Now

Cathy J. Schlund-Vials— On January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The order, which banned nationals of seven countries from entering the United States, originally extended to dual citizens, green card holders, and those already

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