Scott P. Richert

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Sufficient to the Day

I take a lot of pictures.  I am old enough to have spent thousands of dollars on film and photo developing over three decades, from my late single digits up until about the age of 35.  While I was an

Life Is Not a Fantasy
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Life Is Not a Fantasy

The reality of place has weighed heavily on me from a very young age.  My knowledge of self has always been inseparable from the place in which I live.  My understanding of who I am has been closely tied to

Picture This
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Picture This

Last year, just before his 21st birthday, my son Jacob learned of a condition called aphantasia.  In its strictest form, aphantasia is the inability to create mental images.  Like many such conditions, aphantasia affects those who have it to

Pontius Pilate, Ora Pro Nobis
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Pontius Pilate, Ora Pro Nobis

To the leaders of the Free Speech Movement of the 1960’s, self-censorship—once known as civility and decorum—was as dangerous as the social enforcement of civility by private organizations and by public educational institutions, and those social norms were, in turn,

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Quod Scripsi, Scripsi

Reader: I wasn’t quoting you.  I was characterizing your analysis as such.

Me: You were mischaracterizing my analysis.  What I have written, I have written.  What you have written, I did not.

Reader: Says you.

Words have meaning.  We live

A Generation in Need of Editing
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A Generation in Need of Editing

Many years ago, as the luncheon speaker at a meeting of the John Randolph Club in Rockford, Illinois, Tom Sheeley gave a thought-provoking lecture interspersed with a splendid performance of classical guitar.  His main theme was the need for form

Drain the Swamp
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Drain the Swamp

The most remarkable aspect of Bruce Springsteen’s performance at the 2018 Tony Awards wasn’t what he said or that he said it, but the unanimous acclaim with which it was greeted by both the assembled audience and those who viewed

Hungry Heart
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Hungry Heart

“We lived spitting distance from the Catholic church, the priests’ rectory, the nuns’ convent, the St. Rose of Lima grammar school—all of it just a football’s toss away, across the field of wild grass.  I literally grew up surrounded by

The Telegraph and the Clothesline
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The Telegraph and the Clothesline

“We are in great haste to construct a
magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas;
but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.”

—Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Communication, in the abstract, is easier today than it has

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Can We Talk?

A few months after we moved to Huntington, Indiana, I was inducted into the Cosmopolitan Club, one of the country’s oldest extant discussion societies.  Chartered on January 18, 1894, the Cosmopolitan Club convenes on the fourth Tuesday of every month

Alien Nation
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Alien Nation

When Pope John Paul II would arrive in a new country, his first action was always to drop to his knees and kiss the ground. This gesture of reverence was usually portrayed in the media as a sign of respect

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The Quest for Community

“A sense of the past is far more basic to the maintenance of freedom than hope for the future.  The former is concrete and real; the latter is necessarily amorphous and more easily guided by those who can manipulate human

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Welcome Back, Potter

Several years ago, aided by the wonders of modern technology and the principle of fair use, a number of people independently produced remixes of It’s a Wonderful Life as a horror movie.  That this worked brilliantly is really no surprise,

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Freedom From Obligation

For many Americans at or near the mid-century mark of their lives, Frank Capra has shaped their understanding of the meaning of Christmas in a way that only Charles Dickens could possibly rival.  Of all of his films, It’s a

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Sophistory

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From the September 2015 issue of Chronicles.

Two thousand fifteen was the year that we Americans broke history.  By “breaking history,” I do not mean something like “breaking news,” or “breaking records,” or even “breaking the Internet” (though the Internet

Get Big or Get Out
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Get Big or Get Out

Most people think of E.F. Schumacher today (to the extent that they think of him at all) as some sort of vaguely leftist harbinger of the environmentalist movement.  His most famous work, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered

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Chronicles of Culture

“Culture does not exist autonomously,” wrote Robert Nisbet in The Quest for Community; “it is set always in the context of social relationships.”  The implications of Nisbet’s statement should be obvious, but in the age of “social” media, when

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Breeding Mosquitos

“Where there’s no solution,” James Burnham used to remark, “there’s no problem.”

That’s easy for him to say, the modern populist conservative replies.  Burnham died while Reagan was still in office!  What did he know about problems?

Ah, the

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East of Eden

Russell Kirk frequently warned those who read his essays and books and attended his lectures not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Even at the most mundane level of everyday life, the Sage of Mecosta offered

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Make Yourself at Home

“Unless you were born here, you will never really be at home in this city.”  Amy and I heard those words (or a variation thereof) over and over again in early 1996, as we met new people in our adopted

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Man Up

Mike Madigan (so the rumor goes) will never leave the Illinois House of Representatives, or even risk vacating the speaker’s chair, because doing so would almost certainly set him on the path trodden by four of the last eight governors

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Economy and Independence

The president of the little village in West Michigan where I was born and raised (Spring Lake, population 2,360, sal-ute!) no longer wants to be village president.  The obvious solution to this conundrum seems to have eluded the

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Rockford in the Springtime

I first entered Rockford the way that most people do when they’re coming from the east, taking the exit off I-90 onto East State Street, where the ramp T-bones into the Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center, now closed for

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#FillTheHotTub

There’s an ancient adage—ancient in terms of our Internet Age, at least: If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.  Do you think Facebook is free?  Take a look at those ads in your Facebook feed,

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Power to the People!

The world is broken.

There was a time when those words would have been considered unremarkable—a truism, even.  Of course the world is broken: Our first parents, Adam and Eve, broke it.  They did so by their sin.  They had

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Matthew Rarey, RIP

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The editors were saddened to learn of the passing, on April 3, of our onetime colleague and longtime friend Matthew A. Rarey. Matt’s time at Chronicles was not long—he was with us for a little over six months—but as he

What the Editors Are Reading
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What the Editors Are Reading

About 20 years ago the late George Garrett, a professor of English and writing at the University of Virginia and a contributing editor to this magazine, told me an anecdote meant to illustrate the intellectual and social naiveté of students

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Celebrity Politics

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Throughout the Republican primaries and the 2016 general election, commentators regularly characterized Donald Trump’s campaign as the political equivalent of a reality show.  References to Trump’s leading role on NBC’s The Apprentice were a dime a dozen.  Some on the

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A Man of the People

Only where love and need are one,

And the work is play for mortal stakes,

Is the deed ever really done

For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

Long-time readers of Chronicles may recall that this column bore a different rubric

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Abortion in the Age of Trump

The pro-life movement has made great strides in recent years, though many people who consider themselves active pro-lifers may not realize it.  That’s because the good news has all happened at the state and local levels.  State laws combining health-code

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Politics and Sports

When people compare politics to sports, they do not mean the comparison to be flattering.  Voters, we are told, treat politics as irrationally as sports fans do football, baseball, basketball, and hockey.  (The less said about soccer, the better—a good

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Faking It

If one were to believe the mainstream media—and who doesn’t believe the mainstream media?—Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of these United States this month because over 60 million Americans are unable, and possibly unwilling, to

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What the Editors Are Reading

I have a long-standing habit of picking up books from secondhand shops that I have no intention of reading in the immediate or even foreseeable future, and pulling them off the shelf according to whim, sometimes years later.  One such

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Carrier, Congress, and Cronies

“Crony capitalism” is the new buzzphrase, now that Donald Trump is cutting deals to keep jobs in the United States.  When previous presidents cut deals to allow companies to build new factories in Mexico and overseas while shutting down factories

A Confederacy of Dunces
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A Confederacy of Dunces

In the final weeks of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, as our modern-day Madame Defarge’s poll numbers declined slowly but steadily in rhythm to the drip-drip-drip of purloined emails by WikiLeaks, the Clinton campaign settled on a strategy and clung

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Taking Back the Culture

By the time you read this, “the most important election of our lifetime” will be headed for the history books.  If the last six most important elections of our lifetime are any indication, however, we will once again have a

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The Day After

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Imagine how the electoral map would have looked if the 2016 presidential election hadn’t been rigged.

Donald Trump pulled off a yuge upset, and in the Upper East Coast and up and down the entire West Coast, people who have

Trumped-Up Document Dump
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Trumped-Up Document Dump

“Can’t we just drone this guy?” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is reported, by several sources, to have asked in a meeting at the State Department in 2010.  The “guy” in question was WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and after the

To Drone or Not to Drone
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To Drone or Not to Drone

Reactions to the revelation that Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, may have seriously considered launching a drone strike against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have predictably been divided along partisan lines.  Supporters of Donald Trump have seen it as one

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Our Corner of the Vineyard

Nolite confidere in principibus.

The voice of the Psalmist speaks to us down through the ages: “Put not your trust in princes: In the children of men, in whom there is no salvation.”  We can be forgiven if we find

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Dos to Tango

Donald Trump’s surprise visit to Mexico on August 31 has been analyzed every which way, except for one—the one that may, in the long run, prove most important.  While every journalist and political pundit felt compelled to speculate on what

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Incalculable Rewards

        Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal
of your mind, that you may discern
what is the will of God, what is
good and pleasing and perfect.

—Romans 12:2

While Mother Teresa was still

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Of Sam and Siddiqui

“You know,” he said, “I wouldn’t have let your family in, either.”

Standing in a conference room at the Congress Hotel in downtown Chicago, Sam held my gaze in that sideways glance of his, waiting to gauge my reaction.

“I

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Taking Care of Business

Starting January 1, every abortion clinic in Illinois will be required to refer those who come seeking its services to one of the many nonprofit pregnancy-care centers in the state, established to help pregnant women understand that there are alternatives

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Supremely Uninterested

In every presidential election since 1992, complaints about subpar Republican candidates (George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney: The names speak for themselves) have been met with a common refrain: This is the most important