From Chronicles, Thomas Fleming on Christianity and the Empire. The cross and the crescent: Why Christians feel under threat in today's Turkey. A review of The Victory of the West: The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto by Niccolo Capponi. Christian, Muslim, Jew: An article on Franz Rosenzweig and the Abrahamic religions. A review of Opening the Covenant: A Jewish Theology of Christianity by Michael S. Kogan. A review of The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ by Lee Strobel; Thumpin' It: The Use and Abuse of the Bible in Today's Presidential Politics by Jacques Berlinerblau. The trouble with Mary: Of all the beliefs across time, there is none so seemingly extraordinary as belief in the Virgin Birth. Calcata's most remarkable attraction turns out to be something no longer there: the supposed foreskin of Jesus Christ.

David Brooks' Sidney Awards go to the authors of the best magazine essays, and every year the psychic costs grow worse. As icon, myth, and ritual, the Nobel Prize is well secured — but what do we actually know about the Nobel Prize? A look at the Top 100 living geniuses. "Mathemagician" Arthur Benjamin races a team of calculators. How does he do it? A review of The Magic Circle: Performing Magic Through the Ages by Michael Bailey. The false prophet: Anthony Daniels on the false profundity of Kahlil Gibran. Experts and the Individualism Paradox: It starts as an innocent search for a pair of running shoes, but very quickly Cho finds herself in a world predicted by Alvin Toffler's Future Shock — can she escape? From PopMatters, here are some thoughts on the holiday season's uber pop icon. Season of superstition: A user's guide to the lost rituals of Christmas. A review of Christmas: A Candid History by Bruce David Forbes. How's your drink? Coquito is a great drink to help you get through the long Puerto Rican holiday season. 

Fear, loathing and the crisis of confidence: The "paranoid style" in American politics is grounded in a profound disconnect between ordinary Americans and the political class. The Closing of the American Mind: Partisan warriors may love our polarized political culture — everyone else is turned off, and tuning out. More on The Second Civil War by Ronald Brownstein. The "theory of change" primary: Perhaps we are being too literal in believing that "hope" and bipartisanship are things that Obama naively believes are present and possible, when in fact they are a tactic, a method of subverting and breaking the unified conservative power structure. Why conservatives love Barack Obama: Clinton haters who think the Illinois senator can beat Hillary support him now, but their affection will fade if he gets the nomination. A movement built to last: How the conservative movement learned to stop worrying and win even when they lose.

A review of Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War by Jimmie Briggs; Child Soldiers in Africa by Alcinda Honwana; and Child Soldiers: From Violence to Protection by Michael Wessells. Learning to kill for fun: How responsible are adults when things go wrong in the world of children? A review of Crimes of War (2.0): What the Public Should Know, ed. Roy Gutman, David Reiff and Anthony Dworkin. A review of Genocide's Aftermath: Responsibility and Repair. The trend toward fewer conflicts reported by peace researchers since the early 1990s now seems to have been broken. A review of Cause For Hope: Humanity at the Crossroads by Bill Phipps.

A review of The Nubian Pharaohs: Black Kings of the Nile by Charles Bonnet and Dominique Valbelle. The introduction to The Court and Court Society in Ancient Monarchies. A review of Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu by Laurence Bergreen. A review of Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire by Judith Herrin. An interview with Andres Resendez, author of A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza De Vaca: The Extraordinary Tale of a Shipwrecked Spaniard Who Walked Across America in the Sixteenth Century. A review of Toussaint Louverture: A Biography by Madison Smartt Bell. A review of Napoleon's Master: A Life of Prince Talleyrand by David Lawday. A review of The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians by Donald Bloxham. A review of Imperialism and Postcolonialism by Barbara Bush.

Ronan McCrea (EUI): Limitations on Religion in a Liberal Democratic Polity: Christianity and Islam in the Public Order of the European Union. It's the old Right that's full of hate: The most potent bigots in Europe are not Muslims living in run-down housing projects, but white Christians in the corridors of power. From Eurozine, Europe is taking not just a post-national form, but also a post-western shape. Superlocal identities: A look at how European youth culture no longer blindly follows the US template. A review of Brussels: Perspectives on a European Capital; The Capital of Europe: Architecture and Urban Planning for the European Union; and European Brussels: Whose Capital? Whose City? A summit to nowhere: What the Lisbon and Brussels summits say about today's Europe. Nine new EU countries will join the border control-free group known as Schengen; preparations have been underway for months, but will European security suffer?

How did the discovery of America foster a renewed enthusiasm for travel literature? Charles Dickens died in 1870, but his cliff-hanging tales of poverty tempered by hope are more in demand than ever — Peter Ross explores their enduring appeal in the 21st century. Objects of affection: Five writers examine the emotional connection to their most prized — and surprisingly humble — material possessions. The seductive delights of caffeine: An excerpt from At Large and At Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist by Anne Fadiman. You are what you read: Before radio and TV dethroned the book, social reformers warned about reading too much, not too little. A review of Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert. The best of the best and the worst: John Dugdale homes in on the most comical and cringe-making literary quotes of the year.

A question of blame: Who or what is to blame when a once-powerful society collapses? Climate security as the new determinism: A fashionable variant on an old and discreditable idea is in danger of inviting the militarisation of global responses to climate change. The New York Times asks four writers to report on the weather in their part of the world. Lessons from an interglacial past: Dramatic rise in ancient sea levels portends dire news for current climate crisis. Arctic Meltdown: The ice cap is thinning at a scary rate — what can be done? Arctic science is big news, and scientists have begun to invest in it in a big way. A threat so big, academics try collaboration: Scholars from different disciplines are crossing lines to share ideas about reducing the threat of climate change. Research shows out of 2,275 questions asked by the Sunday shows in 2007, just three involved global warming. More on Newt Gingrich's A Contract With the Earth.

From Le Monde diplomatique, Scheherazade in the White House: How George Bush’s wartime administration used a magician, Hollywood designers and Karl Rove telling 1,001 stories to sell the invasion of Iraq. After Fair Game: Laura Rozen on the story Valerie Plame couldn't tell. Challenging Cheney: A National Archives official reveals what the veep wanted to keep classified—and how he tried to challenge the rules. Studying the inhumanities: An interview with Jameel Jaffer, co-editor of Administration of Torture: A Documentary History from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond. What happens at a CIA "black site"?: One victim shares his experience with the CIA's torture tactics. A review of Eight O'clock Ferry to the Windward Side: Seeking Justice in Guantanamo Bay by Clive Stafford Smith.

A review of New Essays on Plato: Language and Thought in Fourth-Century Greek Philosophy by Fritz-Gregor Herrmann. A review of On Soren Kierkegaard: Dialogue, Polemics, Lost Intimacy, and Time by Edward F. Mooney. More and more on John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand by Richard Reeves. A review of Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality by William C. Wimsat. A very public feud between philosophers Ted Honderich and Colin McGinn involving damning book reviews, professional roastings and personal slights shows how bitter, unforgiving — and unwittingly hilarious — academic spats can be.