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William Murchison


William Murchison is a corresponding editor of Chronicles and the author of Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity. His latest book is The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson. To find out more about William Murchison, and to see features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

  • Ain't It the Truth?

    By William Murchison | December 04, 2019
    The Anglican Church of Canada clutches its throat at the prospect of—Lord have mercy—shutting down its ministries and works 20 years from now. You know—putting up the "Closed" sign, the public demand for said ministries dwindling more with every passing year. So sharply have Anglican membership rolls declined since 2000 that, according to an internal study, naught but the buildings will remain in 2040.
  • After the Great Orange Whale

    By William Murchison | November 13, 2019
    "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord"—a pretty flat declaration as reported by the Apostle Paul, leaving few gaps for politicians to fill at their own discretion. But you know politicians. Here we go with the impeachment hearings, an intended spectacle meant more as payback to President Donald Trump for winning the election than as a high-minded act of democratic reprobation.
  • And I Solemnly Promise You

    By William Murchison | November 06, 2019
    Beto O'Rourke's pullout from the presidential race leaves the Democrats with, oh, a mere dozen and a half or so candidates available to run the country. The country's corresponding task is to keep awake for the remainder of the race. The pressing question is, or should be, what goes on here? What's the mission—to can President Donald Trump or to move us in new, as yet hazy, directions? Or both at the same time?
  • What in Heaven's Name Goes On?

    By William Murchison | October 15, 2019
    At its best, Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke's high-octane assault on religious freedom calls for brandy and an extended lie-down in a dark room. That's the best that can be said of it. Its worst has to do with the disdain a midlevel presidential candidate exhibits for supernatural religion.
  • The Moral Tale of Two Cities

    By William Murchison | October 09, 2019
    The "progressive," so to speak, vision of politics and public life envisions tighter and tighter government control over economic life, along with looser and looser controls over human behavior. I think you'd refer to the overall design as a paradox: a clash of methods and objectives.
  • Impeachment: The Hearsay Conundrum

    By William Murchison | October 02, 2019
    There's so much to say about Nancy Pelosi's impeachment gig that one hardly knows where to start. But here's a live possibility: We start with Sen. Lindsey Graham's characterization of how this game is to be played. We're trying to "try the president of the United States based on hearsay," the South Carolina senator says–that is, on the claims of unidentified actors and agents for whose credentials Pelosi isn't prepared to vouch publicly.
  • Now the Left is Quick to Convict

    By William Murchison | September 26, 2019
    We can't seem to have a news event (and everything that happens in our capital city is a capital-E event these days) without the searing cry in the background, drowning out all other discourse: "Impeach! Impeach!" You might call it an echo of the old exhortation, "Hey, somebody get a rope!"
  • Main Street U.S.A.

    By William Murchison | September 10, 2019
    We the People... The world, my friends, is going to... and that's just the point: We don't know where in the world the world is going. Only that it's moving at a high speed, in ways likely to upset existing orders.
  • The Wisdom of Federalism

    By William Murchison | August 22, 2019
    "How Much Damage Have Republicans Done in the States?" Gosh! Worlds of damage, you'd imagine, if you're a typical client of The New York Times nursery school system, where more and more government is good and less and less government is very, very bad—evidencing a failure on your part to appreciate the joys of governance by one's betters.
  • Baby, It's Crazy Outside

    By William Murchison | December 19, 2018
    As Cole Porter slyly reminds us: "In olden days a glimpse of stocking / Was looked on as something shocking / Now heaven knows / Anything goes. . . . " Well, you know, depending on the state of Puritan politics at a given moment. The Puritan habit of scolding—and gazing sourly upon—others for improper behavior is a human constant.
  • Come, Ye Thankful People

    By William Murchison | November 21, 2018
    The civic peace of America, such as it is, balances on a knife blade. But one interesting thing about God is His reputation for cleansing minds and clearing away intellectual clutter such as right now overwhelms the world.
  • Dirty, Dirty Dirt

    By William Murchison | September 20, 2018
    "Dirt is dirtier than clean is clean," observes one of John O'Hara's characters—a history professor, I think—remarking on the human race's observed partiality for darkness and grime in their news diet, rather than sweetness and light.
  • Of Guilt and the Late Confederacy

    By William Murchison | August 15, 2018
    Anti-Confederate liberals (of various races) can't get over the fact that pro-common-sense liberals, moderates and conservatives (of various races) can't go over the fact that rhetorical agitation over race has led us down a blind alley.
  • The Socialist Surge That's Not Coming

    By William Murchison | July 26, 2018
    One of the really cool things about democracy is that voters tend to get what they want—which, um, can also turn out to be one of the really uncool things about democracy. A thing of real terror, if you want the truth.
  • Roe v. Wade and the Confusion of Sen. Collins

    By William Murchison | July 05, 2018
    Neat! We know what the Supreme Court debate is all about—the debate, that is to say, over who shall take retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy's seat. The debate is about abortion.
  • Of the Baptists and the Modern World

    By William Murchison | June 13, 2018
    I live in amity with the Southern Baptists, whose general tolerance for my fellow "Whiskeypalians" I take kindly. I wouldn't dream of joining the media whoop-de-do over who among the Baptist faithful did what to whom, and when, and what to do now.
  • The Joke's On Us

    By William Murchison | April 05, 2018
    I did mention Elvis once in a column, and in the '90s I pointed to one Donald Trump as the TV star you'd least likely want sitting next to you at a dinner party. And yet the likelihood, back then, of ever mentioning Roseanne Barr—it just didn't compute. But these days . . .
  • Roy Moore and the Augean Stables

    By William Murchison | November 15, 2017
    The ongoing erosion of norms and standards leaves us adrift, deciding for ourselves what works and what doesn't—sometimes hitting the mark, just as often missing it.
  • Exit Mr. Weinstein; Hold the Tears

    By William Murchison | October 12, 2017
    The rule-less disorder of modern life spreads like an oil slick. We're in free-for-all mode. We do our own things. It's a free country, right?
  • Offsides for the Kneel-In

    By William Murchison | September 27, 2017
    Let's not stress out, shall we, while endeavoring to make sense of the fuss and foolishness over mass NFL boycotting of "The Star-Spangled Banner." That would be because the fuss and foolishness themselves make no sense: save as a window for viewing the lunacies of 21st century life.
  • The Old Ways Were Better

    By William Murchison | September 20, 2017
    The federal moral police wander constantly in our midst, prodding us with their billy clubs, making sure we avoid offensive language, exhibit "tolerance," exhibit admiration for approved ideas and heroes—and show up when subpoenaed, as when a male collegian finds himself accused of an offense for which his mother or dad would have warned him never—hear this? never—to do.
  • The Return of 'Fellow Feeling'

    By William Murchison | August 31, 2017
    You might say it has not been much of a month for the human race. I might myself contend that signs of life float on the flooded streets of Houston, Texas. People are acting the way people used to act, back before we were all required, seemingly, to stake out a political position and hate those dumb enough not to share it with us.
  • Quiet-ish Time in the City Of Power

    By William Murchison | August 09, 2017
    Who weeps, who languishes, who darts anxious glances at the clock just about the time Congress goes on vacation? The media, of course. With Congress out of town, what's to report on, what's to wring the hands over?
  • The Obamacare Repeal Debacle

    By William Murchison | August 02, 2017
    What do we take away, then, from the earthquake on the Senate floor last week, with wisps of smoke still rising from the ruins of Republican efforts to do something—anything—likely to rationalize the health care mess?
  • Trump, the West and the Left

    By William Murchison | July 12, 2017
    The political left really, really, really doesn't approve of Western civilization. If you doubt it, reference the maledictions poured out by the left on Donald Trump's Warsaw speech last week.
  • Can We All Get Along?

    By William Murchison | June 28, 2017
    What would it take to fix this troubled America of ours? About a million fewer politicians is a goal to get us started.
  • Journalism and Mr. Jones

    By William Murchison | June 21, 2017
    We used to hear it said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." It seems by modern criteria to make you something even better: rich, famous, influential; a source of quotes and endorsements and speaking gigs.
  • They Out-Believe Us

    By William Murchison | June 07, 2017
    At the bottom of all human affrays—terrorism being the present point in question—is the matter of belief. What do you believe? How strongly do you believe it? What do you propose doing about beliefs? The terrorists out-believe the rest of us.
  • The Moral Clarity of the Morally Depraved

    By William Murchison | May 31, 2017
    The case is not one of a united Islam seeking displacement of a united Christianity. Not yet it's not. The case is one of unmitigated evil flourishing in a world reluctant to speak such a "judgmental" word as evil.
  • An Over-the-Top 'Scandal'

    By William Murchison | May 17, 2017
    Is firing a government official serving at the president's pleasure now an impeachable action? The terms of presidential duty are changing faster than the media and the Democrats can invent them.
  • The Tyranny of Non-Thought

    By William Murchison | May 10, 2017
    City government wants to consign the public images of Jefferson Davis, P. G. T. Beauregard and even Robert E. Lee to a sanitized existence far from daily sight. To what end?
  • Of Baseball Bats and Tax Reform

    By William Murchison | May 03, 2017
    The coming fight over tax reform highlights distinct and seemingly irreconcilable views of government. We might want to reflect on them, as the major players ready the armament: brass knuckles, baseball bats, Fox News and New York Times commentaries.
  • The Know-It-Alls

    By William Murchison | April 26, 2017
    The impression that Americans can't talk to each other anymore grows and grows: fastest at the university level, where apparently it's being decided and worked out that non-progressive speakers don't deserve a hearing.
  • Life Without Norms

    By William Murchison | April 19, 2017
    What you end up with when the moral barriers topple is, not least, the end of due process at American colleges and universities.
  • Why Are They Gunning for Gorsuch?

    By William Murchison | April 05, 2017
    The Gorsuch nomination affords reasonable Democrats—there are still some around—a chance to say, look, we need to do business together, for the nation's sake.
  • Judging Judge Gorsuch

    By William Murchison | March 22, 2017
    The left understands Gorsuch to represent the nonpolitical temperament it would exclude from the court, so as to broaden the ability to impose on the American people (bless their pointed heads) plans and objectives for which they have not asked.
  • You Get What You Need

    By William Murchison | November 09, 2016
    Voting for Trump felt good. It amounted to hitting a lick in behalf of ideals and ideas scorned in our time as backwards: patriotism, piety, moral strength, the come-on-let’s-get-agoin’ virtues that swept back the frontier and elevated America to world supremacy.
  • In Search of a New Free-World Leader

    By William Murchison | November 17, 2015
    Is Vladimir Putin the new leader of the free world? All we currently know is that the job seems open, and that Putin has seemingly sent in his resume, showing openness to the idea of an anti-Islamic State alliance with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
  • Offside at Mizzou

    By William Murchison | November 10, 2015
    I tell you, it's great to be alive and cognizant that the greatest thing going on at the University of Missouri, large-domed citadel of learning and culture, is—you guessed it—football!
  • All Talk, No Action

    By William Murchison | November 03, 2015
    By Monday, interestingly enough, the Russian invasion of Syria was receding as a topic of public concern.
  • The Sad Fate of Jim Webb

    By William Murchison | October 27, 2015
    With Jim Webb's resignation from the presidential race goes a piece of history. Will a moderate to maybe-just-a-little-bit-conservative man—or woman—emerge ever again to offer Democrats a national leadership profile independent of the Hillary or Bernie template?
  • A Pope and His People

    By William Murchison | September 22, 2015
    The chair of Peter—the furniture that Francis occupies temporarily—exists to make sure heaven gets the hearing it deserves, in preference to the Supreme Court or the United Nations. Heaven has a prior claim on us. We tend to forget.
  • The Real Meaning of Kim Davis

    By William Murchison | September 08, 2015
    Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was jailed for refusing to give out marriage licenses to gay couples, is out of the clink at last. But in political and cultural regards, her nation and ours is not in the clear.
  • Marse Robert and the Lynch Mob

    By William Murchison | July 07, 2015
    Calls resound, from right and left, for pulling down statues of Confederate heroes.
  • What This Country Needs

    By William Murchison | June 17, 2015
    The Amazing Media Machine, dripping oil and self-satisfaction, roared to new life with Jeb Bush's declaration of his presidential candidacy. At last—something to talk about.
  • Hillary on the Right to Vote

    By William Murchison | June 09, 2015
    Moving up the road from this latest Clinton tour de force shouldn't be hard. The Clinton view of the right to vote is that it exists to put Clintons in office, rather than to affirm faith in the power of free, unimpeded voter choice.
  • A 'Damascus Road' Vision for Castro?

    By William Murchison | May 12, 2015
    You might have another notion entirely. I prefer to see the fruits of Raul Castro's semi-conversion to Catholicism before reaching conclusions as to his sincerity.
  • The Silence of the Lambs

    By William Murchison | May 04, 2015
    Here's how it stands with Western civilization—what's left of it, I mean—insofar as various Westerners are concerned. You keep your lip buttoned whenever foes, internal as well as external, jump up and down on you, kick you around, make known their fondest wish is to do you in, ideals and all.
  • The Court and Marriage

    By William Murchison | April 27, 2015
    Well. I really can't believe I am saying this. The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to tell us what marriage means. Not speculate; not explain. Tell: as in, "Wipe that smile off your face and listen to what I'm telling you."
  • Cashiering Andy Jackson

    By William Murchison | April 21, 2015
    Playing around with history can be dangerous, as reflecting temporary trends and passions instead of worth and achievement; reflecting, too, basic ignorance of history's complexities.
  • Of Jordan Spieth and Hillary Clinton

    By William Murchison | April 14, 2015
    I'm. Just. So. Excited. That. Hillary. Clinton. Is. Ready. To. Be. My. Champion. I mean, she says she's ready, what with "the deck . . . still stacked in favor of those at the top."
  • The 'John Wayne Moment' We're In

    By William Murchison | March 25, 2015
    Wait! A sudden thunder of hooves in the distance! A shout! A shot! It's... It's ... Ted Cruz, declaring his candidacy for the U.S. presidency.
  • Trashing the Academic Mission

    By William Murchison | March 17, 2015
    Maybe the question is, who'd want a degree from a university whose administration, on learning of a frat-boy incident on a bus, behaves as though God had personally dispatched the whole academic bureaucracy to wreak revenge.
  • Moral Dumbing-Down

    By William Murchison | March 03, 2015
    I gather from Gregg Easterbrook's review in the Wall Street Journal that Jay M. Smith and Mary Willingham, in "Cheated", tell a tale of significant dimensions, concerning the indifference of a putatively great university to the chicanery involved in sponsoring fake classes for athletes who can barely read.
  • The President Who Doesn't Get It

    By William Murchison | February 17, 2015
    Days after the mass beheadings of Coptic Christians in Libya, profoundly serious questions linger in the air. Does Barack Obama know what's going on all around him? Does he have the slightest inkling?
  • Nuts to You!

    By William Murchison | February 10, 2015
    It's been kind of fun, I tell you: a Florida Democratic congressman, one Alcee Hastings, calls Texas a "crazy state." Texans—e.g., Rick Perry—joyfully, jubilantly acknowledged the craziness that has made our state (yes, I am one of the assorted bedlamites) foremost in the country for economic growth.
  • The Proofs of the Christmas Pudding

    By William Murchison | December 23, 2014
    The acid skepticism of centuries past concerning the reality of the Christian revelation bubbles in the 21st century to a degree, and with a corrosiveness, unseen for quite a long time.
  • Standard Practice

    By William Murchison | December 09, 2014
    A moral system presupposes some general level of personal restraint in word and deed; some level of decorum and consideration for others. Yeah. Well. That's not where we are right now.
  • Why We Don't Like Politicians

    By William Murchison | November 04, 2014
    "The polls" have it that Americans in 2014 expect virtually nothing from the 2014 style in Washington politicians.
  • Government as the Great Equalizer—and Other Absurdities

    By William Murchison | October 28, 2014
    The really troubling point that Joel Kotkin makes in the New York Daily News is that New York can't figure out how to do the economic equality thing we hear so much about in this and every political season.
  • Why Wendy Can't Win

    By William Murchison | October 21, 2014
    Why does Texas, a pulsating, change-oriented state, full of young people, full of minorities, full of those women the Republicans are alleged (by Democrats) to be running a "war" against -- how come Texas "remains strongly Republican"?
  • When Duty Doesn't Call

    By William Murchison | October 14, 2014
    Americans will cease arguing over the federal Voting Rights Act and its intricacies—oh, I imagine around the time Texas starts exporting ground water to Minnesota, or the Lord returns to judge the quick and the dead.
  • Time to Share the Foreign Policy Vision (If Any)

    By William Murchison | May 27, 2014
    The way to have the foreign policy you want is first to figure out what kind of foreign policy you want.
  • Get Sterling!

    By William Murchison | April 29, 2014
    Inevitably, the country’s No. 1 basketball fan, Barack Obama, weighed in on Sterling's comments from Malaysia, as to the continuing effects of race and slavery.
  • Return of the '70s

    By William Murchison | March 18, 2014
    As the Russians push their imperial agenda in the Ukraine, and Western leaders wring their hands, the '70s come painfully to mind. I bring up the '70s—of god-awful memory—as much to nourish hope as to enlarge perspective on current events in the world and the nation along with it.
  • Texas and Heterosexual Marriage

    By William Murchison | February 27, 2014
    Barely eight years ago, 76 percent of Texas voters affirmed by constitutional amendment their commitment to heterosexual marriage as the proper relational norm.
  • Wendy

    By William Murchison | February 17, 2014
    Look, the Wendy Davis candidacy for Texas governor isn’t going anywhere. (Ain’t goin’ nowhere, Bubba, as we might say in Texas.)
  • You Gotta be a Football Hero

    By William Murchison | July 24, 2012
    Joe Paterno and other winning coaches found themselves on the road to divinization—no healthy estate for mortals. Gods can do no wrong. They need merely win games.
  • Barack in Wonderland

    By William Murchison | June 19, 2012
    When Congress, split seven ways from Sunday on the question, squelched legislation granting resident status for those formerly called "illegal aliens," President Obama said, in effect, so what?—we'll do it anyway.
  • The Perils of Greatness

    By William Murchison | May 01, 2012
    The thing about Lyndon Johnson was that he knew what he was doing. There was more to it even than that. He knew how to get things done.
  • Newt, the Democratic Mole

    By William Murchison | January 09, 2012
    The terrible, horrible, no good, please-go-away race for the Republican presidential nomination has the potential to deliver President Obama the kind of ringing affirmation that seemed impossible not many months ago.
  • Democracy at Work (for Better or Worse)

    By William Murchison | August 08, 2011
    Whoever said it first spoke a mouthful: Rome wasn't built in a day. To which I would add: congressmen didn't build it either. Members of Congress bicker, bellow and throw nails under each other's pickup tires seemingly trying to block meaningful action like the enactment of legislation authorizing payment of national obligations.
  • A Crisis—Hooray!

    By William Murchison | July 28, 2011
    It's not that this wonderful land of ours has never known political fracases. A war that took place midway through the 19th century comes to mind. There was also, years later, if memory serves, an upheaval known as the New Deal, during whose course all manner of head-butting took place.
  • The Filthy Rich

    By William Murchison | April 26, 2011
    I haven't investigated, but I'm sure of it. A pollster in ancient Babylonia was sampling the citizenry on a proposal to raise money by taxing the vineyards and flesh pots of the obscenely rich. I don't know a word of ancient Babylonian, but can we doubt the response went something like, "You bet! Go for it! Get those miserable shekel-grubbing sons of camels!"?
  • Teachers and Parents

    By William Murchison | March 15, 2011
    Our national weeping and wailing over education spending cuts, public employee unions, and such like cause minds of a certain vintage to stop still and wonder. When were the divorce proceedings between home and classroom filed anyway? And who filed them, and why? It can be argued that the current traumas of education proceed from that divorce: further testimony to the general understanding that it's the kids who get hurt worst in divorce.
  • Organized Coercion

    By William Murchison | March 03, 2011
    The more it changes, the more it's the same, hmmm? In this present instance, meaning our country's seemingly fresh-scented wrangle over union power. The scent isn't fresh at all, nor is the wrangle. The arguments are old, the question at stake is old: namely, when is the public interest served by giving organized coercion its way?
  • Health Care Debate—At Last

    By William Murchison | January 18, 2011
    A new Associated Press-GfK poll that shows Americans evenly divided on the Obamacare repeal is getting big play as the House opens debate on precisely that course of action. Won't it be amazing to hear Democrats argue—in view of this spectacular turn in public opinion—that House Republicans should now back off?
  • A Role Model for Boehner

    By William Murchison | January 04, 2011
    The battle smoke lifts, the noise of past political combat dies away, and we envision at last the right role model for John Boehner as he assumes the speakership. Who else, I ask, but Nancy Pelosi?
  • At War With the Military

    By William Murchison | December 09, 2010
    The motive behind the proposed repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is, hmmm ... what, exactly? A stronger military? Better projection of American might in tight corners like Afghanistan and South Korea? Well, not precisely any of that.
  • Those Whom the God Would Destroy...

    By William Murchison | December 01, 2010
    As life in the 21st century gets loopier and loopier, the truly deranged come out of the woodwork, passing themselves off as benefactors of mankind, candidates for sainthood, etc. Maybe—who knows—candidates for another Pulitzer Prize: something The New York Times hardly needs, but self-inflicted moral grandeur can do odd things to you.
  • The Palin Perplexity

    By William Murchison | November 23, 2010
    Sarah Palin is the best thing that's happened lately to the right and the left, both at the same time. Much of the right pays her obeisance for mobilizing the troops and smart-alecking the left—which in turn loves her for splitting (so the left hopes) the right over her personality and track record.
  • The Tax Rate Racket

    By William Murchison | November 16, 2010
    The flap over whether to extend present tax rates for the rich finds its center in a cultural proposition: Liberals, including rich liberals, either don't like the rich or feel obliged to pretend they don't.
  • Atheism: What a Joke

    By William Murchison | September 20, 2010
    Assuming, no doubt, our anxious world could use a good laugh, Stephen Hawking undertakes to provide one. He says the universe created itself. The theory itself isn't the joke. The joke is the dogged persistence of atheists trying in the face of common sense to persuade the world as to the wisdom they see in their every utterance. Another way of putting it would be, atheism is the joke.

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