This week’s issue of TIME uses an illuminating interview with President Trump to examine a topic that’s as current as events get: the President’s relationship to the concept of the truth. But the “Is Truth Dead?” cover design also looks to the magazine’s past, evoking the 1966 “Is God Dead?” cover that remains perhaps the magazine’s most famous in its 90-plus years of publication.
Last year, when that cover story hit its 50th anniversary, I took a look at how it came to be — and the explosive effect it had on the lives of those who were featured in the story. As the son of one of the death-of-God theologians told me, the fallout was so extreme that it caused the family to leave their hometown.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost and 27 others
FROM THE TIME VAULT
Is God Dead?
“Is God dead? The three words represent a summons to reflect on the meaning of existence. No longer is the question the taunting jest of skeptics for whom unbelief is the test of wisdom and for whom Nietzsche is the prophet who gave the right answer a century ago. Even within Christianity, now confidently renewing itself in spirit as well as form, a small band of radical theologians has seriously argued that the churches must accept the fact of God's death, and get along without him.” (Apr. 8, 1966)
“Given the litigious nature of American society these days, just about any kind of business, profession or government agency is likely to become the target of a suit alleging malpractice or negligence resulting in personal injury. That makes liability insurance, the kind that pays off on such claims, just about as vital as oil in keeping the economy functioning. But in the past two years, liability insurance has become the kind of resource that oil was in the 1970s: prohibitively expensive, when it can be bought at all.” (Mar. 24, 1986)
“Man's current concern over water reflects a serious, worldwide shortage in the midst of plenty. For while it is a fact of nature that water swamps nearly three-fourths of the earth's surface, it is also an ironic truth that it cannot always be found where it is needed, when it is needed, in the amounts that are required. Of the 326,071,300 cubic miles of water on earth, 97.2% is in the oceans, unfit to drink, too salty for irrigation. Another 2% lies frozen and useless in glaciers and icecaps. The tiny usable fraction that is left is neither evenly distributed nor properly used.” (Oct. 1, 1965)
Her Story If you saw the movie 12 Years a Slave and wondered what happened to the real Patsey, played in the movie by Lupita Nyong’o, here’s your answer, from Jonathan W. White at the blog of the Journal of the Civil War Era.
The Listings At The Verge, Adi Robertson finds a fascinating slice of modern history in this deep dive into the history of “people search” websites that comb public and private records to take the idea of a phone book to new levels.
Rom-com Revisited On the anniversary of its 1990 release, The Hollywood Reporter dusts off their original—rather negative—review of Pretty Woman.
Greek to Me And here’s pretty much the opposite of a THR review of Pretty Woman: a BBC radio program about why the Battle of Salamis, of 480 BCE, mattered so much.
Awful Disclosures Mike Mariani at Slate tells the fascinating story of the forgotten 19th-century book that helped spark a particular strain of prejudice in the U.S.