About De Civitate

ROPER: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

MORE: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

ROPER: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

MORE: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down— and you're just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

A Man for All Seasons

The name of this blogletter, De Civitate, means “About Civilization.” I did not realize until too late that St. Augustine had written a book of the same name, better known in English as The City of God, but I am not unhappy to share the title with him.

I write here about a wide range of questions that impact civilization: the political horserace, public morals (or, as this noble project has disparagingly renamed itself, “social justice”), the structure of government, culture, fundamental truths (sometimes labeled “religion” or “metaphysics”), current events, history, and law. Lots of law. Like More in A Man for All Seasons, I strongly believe in the power and responsibility of the rule of law, and I write accordingly.

In other words, De Civitate has too broad a focus to ever go really viral, but too narrow a focus to ever interest my wife.

About James J. Heaney

Jesus Christ!

Nate Silver’s reaction to James J. Heaney

James J. Heaney is most notable for definitively debunking the bizarrely widespread rumor that it is illegal to marry a virgin in Guam, although he is also that one conservative guy who thinks Net Neutrality is actually a pretty good idea. He has written for Law & Liberty, The American Conservative, Commonweal, Aleteia, Crisis, and The Federalist. He secretly suspects that, before January 6, John Eastman cribbed from De Civitate’s infamous August 2020 post about a new American Civil War. He is obsessed with rights for fetuses, especially the ways our rejection of them warps our culture. That’s not the only thing he’s obsessed with.

There are many other Jameses Heaney. He is not one of them. This guy, to name one example, ain’t me. Don’t blame him, or any of the other innocent James Heaneys out there, for anything I say that you don’t like.

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Note About Old Posts

When I opened this Substack in November 2021, I copied my entire WordPress blog over to Substack as well. It turns out that several of them did not come through with correct formatting. Some are missing pictures; some are an unreadable mess.

I have never quite figured out what to do about this, short of going through the entire archive and cleaning everything up by hand (ha ha), so: if you find a post on this Substack that seems badly formatted, visit JamesJHeaney.com and search for the original post there. That blog should remain online forever.

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"And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?"


Walker Percy would have a whole lot to say about our attempts to sum up our selves in a few hundred characters. I blog at decivitate.substack.com.