Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 12:15 PM
Gary Alan Fine at the New York Times finds Penn State’s “vacating” of victories from the sports history of the school from 1998 to 2011 a move Orwell might have written about, had horse and porker not been serviceable for his purposes. His conclusion:
Social institutions, like the N.C.A.A., have an absolute right and a moral obligation to respond forcefully to crimes and infractions that occur in areas of their responsibility. The N.C.A.A. properly recognized that Penn State should be sanctioned, but it should not create a fantasized history. Men in suits should not undo what boys in uniforms have achieved.
While the shame of honoring flawed people in a record book is understandable, covering up what happened is never the solution. Building a false history is the wrong way to recall the past. True and detailed histories always work better.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 10:15 AM
As of yesterday, doctors in South Dakota must advise patients seeking abortions of the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions that come with it. Obviously contested, we’re told by Planned Parenthood CEO Sarah Stoesz that the statue would “burden abortion rights and violate physicians’ First Amendment right to be free from compelling speech.”
The court acknowledged “medical and scientific uncertainty” about the link between abortion and suicide, but said that because the link has not been ruled out, advising about an “increased risk” is not constitutionally misleading and would be relevant to a patient’s decision.
“The bottom line is that women don’t turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care, or cancer treatments,” said Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota in a statement. “Politicians should not be involved in a woman’s personal medical decisions about her pregnancy.”
Wednesday, July 18, 2012, 11:53 AM
The tiny township of Corigliano d’Otranto, a small village on Italy’s heel, believes itself to be the country’s most philosophical hamlet. It might have something to do with the town’s mayor, Ada Fiore, who is also a philosophy teacher. Speculation aside, the town is drawing attention—and criticism—for appointing its very own municipal philosopher, who will be available for weekly consultations:
Resolution No 72, which cited the aforementioned thinkers, created the new post of municipal philosopher, stipulating that the first holder of the office, Graziella Lupo, would be available for consultation at the town hall “between 15.00 and 19.00 on Fridays”.
Read more here.
h/t David Laprade
Thursday, July 12, 2012, 3:14 PM
Writing for cityArts, Maureen Mullarkey reviews a new exhibition at the DC Moore Gallery, American (ir)religiosity:
Censorship battles over sexually explicit imagery have been won. That old X-rated thrill is gone. Nowadays, organs and orifices are as transgressive as your parish bulletin. Only demon blasphemy has enough life left to pinch-hit for beaver shots and bull whips—or so the gallery wants to think.
On one level, Beasts of Revelation is a standard publicity caper, the kind that banks on the Catholic League to rise to the bait. Nothing boosts box office like a picket line of retired Knights of Columbus at the gallery door. Moreover, this is an election year, as civic minds at DC Moore remind us. The gallery is primed for Nov. 6 with latter-day riffs on Christian iconography, stand-ins for the social conservatism identified with a Republican candidacy. To underscore the point, two LDS-raised artists are showcased for their upbringing, not talent.
Read more here
Thursday, July 12, 2012, 9:00 AM
Reparative Therapy Renounced
Erik Eckholm, New York Times
Even More About NFIB v. Sebelius
Tom Christina, Library of Law & Liberty
David Oderberg’s New Location
Via Edward Feser, David S. Soderberg
Front Porched Avengers
David Masciotra, Front Porch Republic
William Gilpin’s Picturesque Beauty
Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 9:00 AM
Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 9:00 AM
Monday, July 9, 2012, 4:26 PM
First Things warmly welcomes a new Junior Fellow, Anna Williams, who flew in to New York City just yesterday evening. A brief bio:
Anna Williams is a recent graduate of Hillsdale College and a former Collegiate Network fellow on USA TODAY’s editorial board. At Hillsdale, she studied English and Spanish, edited the independent campus newspaper The Hillsdale Forum
, and was active in the college’s Catholic and pro-life groups. Following her graduation, she spent a year working at USA TODAY, where she wrote several op-eds and assisted with research, fact-checking, and editing. She also blogs for Ignitum Today
We’re looking forward to the good work she’ll be doing for the magazine and the website, and know that the time spent with USA TODAY will have her producing material sure to stir conversation in the blog forum.
Friday, July 6, 2012, 10:03 AM
Sex Abuse and the Study of Religion
Kathryn Lofton, Immanent Frame
RJN and the HHS “Catholic Moment”
C.J. McCloskey III, Catholic Thing
Patrick Brennen, Mirror of Justice
The Ideal Economy of Wilhelm Roepke
Ralph E. Ancil, Imaginative Conservative
Cheer Up, San Diego
Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times
Thursday, July 5, 2012, 10:00 AM
Tuesday, July 3, 2012, 10:00 AM
Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 10:25 AM
Feeling footloose and frisky, a feather-brained fellow forced his fond father to fork over the family finances. He flew far to foreign fields and frittered his fortune feasting fabulously with faithless friends.
Finally facing famine and fleeced by his fellows in folly, he found himself a feed-flinger in a filthy farmyard. Fairly famished he fain would have filled his frame with the foraged foods of the fodder fragments left by the filthy farmyard creatures.
‘Fooey’, he said, ‘My father’s flunkies fare far fancier,’ the frazzled fugitive found feverishly, frankly facing facts. Frustrated by failure and filled with foreboding he forthwith fled to his family.
Falling at his father’s feet, he floundered forlornly. ‘Father, I have flunked and fruitlessly forfeited family favour.’ But the faithful father, forestalling further flinching frantically flagged the flunkies. ‘Fetch forth the finest fatling and fix a feast.’
But the fugitive’s fault-finding frater frowned on the fickle forgiveness of the former folderol. His fury flashed. But fussing was futile, for the far-sighted father figured, such filial fidelity is fine, but what forbids fervent festivity?
The fugitive is found! “Unfurl the flags, with fanfares flaring! Let fun and frolic freely flow!” “Former failure is forgotten, folly is forsaken! And forgiveness forms the foundation for future fortitude.”
–Thanks, Potter’s Jar.
Friday, June 22, 2012, 11:00 AM
Dominicana, the publication of the Dominican students of the St. Joseph Province, is supporting the Catholic bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom by providing free access to “Salt and Light: An Interview with Chris Smith” from today until July 4th:
“Salt and Light” is one of the feature articles from the Summer 2012 issue of the semi-annual print journal Dominicana. In the interview, Brs. Mario Calabrese, O.P., and Thomas More Garrett, O.P., discuss the pressing questions surrounding the public life of Catholics in contemporary America with one of our country’s great experts on the question, Congressman Chris Smith. Chris Smith has served in Congress since 1980 and has been co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus since 1982. He has also distinguished himself as an advocate of human rights in many different fields, authoring innumerable laws to protect Americans’ authentic freedom.
The interview treats the successes and failures of Catholic politicians, the HHS mandate, religious freedom, and more.
Read the interview here.
Thursday, June 21, 2012, 10:30 AM
David Deavel, writing for Unique for a Reason, explores the difficulties that homosexuals who are interested in living celibate, orthodox Christian lives often meet with from within the Church as much as from without. Ron Belgau, a Catholic homosexual pursuing his PhD in philosophy at St. Louis University, explains:
We embrace the traditional understanding that God created us male and female, and that His plan for sexual intimacy is only properly fulfilled in the union of husband and wife in marriage. However, this blog was born out of frustration with the prevailing narratives about homosexuality from those who embrace this traditionally Christian sexual ethic: an excessive focus on political issues, and the ubiquity of reparative therapy in one form or another. We want to see more discussion of celibacy, friendship, the value of the single life and similar topics.
To this, Dave responds:
He is realistic, noting that there are certainly “unhealthy and destructive ways” to achieve celibacy. But he is also hopeful, because he understands that this paradox is a human phenomenon, applicable not just to same-sex attractions, but many other conditions in which we find ourselves. We all struggle with our own temptations and failures to resist them—we all know some part of life in which the pain of dealing with them honestly seems too much to bear. At least it feels that way.
Of course, describing homosexual attraction as just another sinful inclination among many others have doesn’t have much purchase even inside some Christian circles.
Read more here.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 3:28 PM
Some attention was given to China’s one-child policy with Vice President Joe Biden off-handedly expressed sympathy for it, but the moral horror the policy evokes in most has yet to lead to real opposition. Writing in the American Spectator, Jing Zhang of Women’s Right in China urges us to organize against it:
Women in China have no reproductive rights. No permit, no pregnancy. There is no right for women to give birth. Unlike Vice President Biden, we all need to second guess China’s one-child policy, especially since China has no plans to end this policy for at least another generation. Aside from the personal human suffering each aborted woman must endure, Americans need to know about the suffering that exists for the spouses and parents and most families in China who can no longer have brothers and sisters and will never be aunts and uncles.
Read more here.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012, 10:05 AM
Timothy Dalrymple, writing for Patheos, points to an interesting tension in our assumptions about Christianity today. Commenting on John Wilson’s Wall Street Journal “Houses of Worship” series, Dalrymple singled out what he thought to be the most striking paragraph:
Consider the alleged exodus of young people from the church. “We won’t lose students because we didn’t entertain them,” said the dreadlocked Philadelphia activist and preacher Shane Claiborne on Twitter. “We will lose them because we haven’t given the FULL gospel.” Mr. Claiborne’s comment made me think of another gifted preacher, Jesus, who also met with a mixed reception. “From that moment,” we read in the sixth chapter of John’s gospel—after Jesus said that “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” — “many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.”
Many do believe that the droves of young people leaving (or never attending) churches has much to do with the quality of the message delivered: If all we receive from the pulpit is lukewarm encouragement to be nice, it’s no wonder why people don’t show up. But it’s also not quite true that, if we only had preachers who told the hard truth in charity, people would be attracted. Consider John 6: “The greatest preacher in the history of Christianity drove them away by the thousands.”
Read more here.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 2:09 PM
Helen De Cruz at Prosblogion has just returned from a philosophy of religion workshop (where arguments for and against theism are erected and tested for structural integrity, presumably) at which the Common Consent Argument for the existence of God was revived. In its simplest form:
1. Most people believe in God
2. Therefore, God exists.
Cruz reports that the argument has fallen on hard times among philosophers recently. One wonders how it ever enjoyed good times:
The proposition that the mere popularity of a belief might constitute evidence for its truth may strike us as odd. Mill, for instance, argued that common opinion might be OK for the common folk who are unable or don’t feel entitled to form their own opinion, but to us, thinkers “the argument from other people’s opinions has little weight. It is but second-hand evidence; and merely admonishes us to look out for and weigh the reasons on which this conviction of mankind or of wise men was founded.”
Most would (and should) smirk at the crude formulation of the Common Consent Argument above, particularly those interested in proving its conclusion false. But the comparison between the reasoning of the argument and that of society’s moral culture is eerily accurate. Replace “exists” with “is morally neutral,” and “God” with anything that’s fashionable.
Read more here
Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 3:24 PM
“We often read nowadays of the valor or audacity with which some rebel attacks a hoary tyranny or an antiquated superstition. There is not really any courage at all in attacking hoary or antiquated things, any more than in offering to fight one’s grandmother. The really courageous man is he who defies tyrannies young as the morning and superstitions fresh as the first flowers. The only true free-thinker is he whose intellect is as much free from the future as from the past. He cares as little for what will be as for what has been; he cares only for what ought to be.”
From What’s Wrong with the World, and Siris
Friday, May 25, 2012, 10:00 AM
Writing for Religion and Politics, Alfredo Garcia chronicles the lonely movement called American atheism. For one, while they do agree on the triumph of reason and the banality of religious beliefs, they do not agree about how to go about demonstrating it to the other 90% of Americans that believe in a higher power. It has been difficult for atheists to find positive common ground on which to build community and cause. Life isn’t easy for non-believers in America:
Atheists are viewed more negatively than any other U.S. religious group, with less than half of Americans (45 percent) holding a favorable opinion of them. It can be a lonely existence…What has not changed much, though, is the image of the non-theist that O’Hair left in her wake. It’s the image of the atheist out to pick a fight, the unbeliever who is constantly seeking the next debate. As Fidalgo from CFI put it, O’Hair was an “extremely polarizing” figure who “gained visibility for American Atheists but may have been integral in forming the image of atheism in the U.S. as arrogant.” More recent non-theist leaders (like the late Hitchens) are often perceived as relishing these same antagonisms.
It’s at least hard to see how one could be very enthusiastic about a movement whose highest aspiration is the demise of many others.
Read more here.
Thursday, May 24, 2012, 1:30 PM
At Prosblogion, Helen De Cruz has presented a statistical analysis on the question of whether philosophers of religion take religious arguments more seriously than other philosophers. As one would expect, they do. Cruz gave eight arguments against theism and asked participants to rate them, ranging from very strong to very weak. Her interest was whether or not religious commitments affected one’s assessment of these arguments:
At first, I thought that my survey showed mainly effects of confirmation bias (i.e., theists rate arguments for theism higher, atheists rate arguments against theism higher), but thanks to Robert’s more fine-grained analysis of individual argument I can see now that PoR does make a difference in how a lot of these arguments are assessed (the main predictor is still religious belief though, but controlling for this, PoR makes a difference). If PoRs rate the hiddenness argument stronger than the general philosophical population, does that say anything about hiddenness as a problem for theism? Or, conversely, since PoRs are not as impressed with the argument from parsimony, should the (non-PoR) atheist look for other reasons to support her beliefs (I’m saying this in particular because parsimony came out as a favorite alongside the argument from evil).
Read more here.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 8:00 AM
Why? Because there isn’t one. Although lawsuits challenging the contraception mandate are separating the wheat from the chaff to some extent, as in the case of Notre Dame, CUA, et al, the amorphous population of Catholic voters has never been so difficult to define. Weighing in on MSNBC, our own editor R. R. Reno lamented the difficulty: “Catholicism tends to be a cultural-ethnic identity…but you want to think about Catholic voters in terms of intensity of their religion.” It has usually been understood that the Catholic vote was a rather significant portion of the voting bloc:
But to call the Catholic vote a pure bellwether would be a mistake; the determination of an individual’s vote is more likely in 2012 to turn on more common political variables (like income, education, or ethnicity) – than simple religious identity. “Catholicism was never as monolithic as its foes assumed,” said William Dinges, a professor of religion and culture at the Catholic University of America. “In many respects, Catholics are less distinguishable than they once were from other religious groups.”
Mark Stricherz at Catholicvote.org defines it as that which “mirrors the social teaching of the hierarchy, especially the American bishops: culturally conservative, economically populist or liberal, and moderate to liberal on foreign policy.” He wrote this a few months ago:
“Whatever their ideology (“social justice” or “social renewal”) or degree of religious observance (ex-Catholics, cafeteria Catholics, and confession-going Catholics), some Catholics vote as a bloc. You can see it in the votes of pro-life Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the voting patterns of regions such as southwestern Pennsylvania. What else besides Catholicism explains the pro-life votes cast by Democratic congressmen from South Boston, Rhode Island, and southwestern Chicago?”
Whether one agrees or disagrees, and there are good reasons to do both, Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review thinks we can’t deny that there is at least discernable Catholic voting behavior: Catholics are swing voters. This in contrast with Evangelicals, Jews, blacks, single women, etc. But Reno thinks this might not last much longer. If the Democratic party continues to be seen as generally hostile to persons of orthodox religious faith, there could be a significant transformation in the Catholic vote: “If there’s a shift of 10 percent in the way Catholics vote over a 10-year period, that could be very important.”
Read more here.
Monday, May 21, 2012, 4:30 PM
Dominica, the publication of the Dominican students of the St. Joseph Province, features Br. Bonaventure Chapman, O.P. weighing in on Stanley Hauerwas’ pacifism:
Although I am not a pacifist, there are certainly compelling reasons for being one. In the first place, Jesus seems to recommend the practice on a number of occasions, as when he refuses permission to James and John to call down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritan town that rejected Jesus (Luke 9:51-56); or when he rebukes Peter in the Garden and heals the servant whose ear had been cut off (Luke 22:47-53). Most powerfully, Jesus refuses to call down angels to save him before Pilate and, instead, suffers crucifixion for the sins of the world. This act of non-violence is what saves the world from sin and death, and it is this act that Hauerwas argues should be the paradigm for all Christian practice…This emphasis on martyrdom as the Christian practice is echoed by Hauerwas: “I really believe, since I’m a Christian, that you always live in a world at risk. Indeed, what Christianity is about, is always learning how to die early for the right reasons.”
In contrast, he also cites C.S. Lewis’ short piece, “Why I am not a Pacifist,”
“[In trying to become a pacifist,] I should find a very doubtful factual basis, an obscure train of reasoning, a weight of authority both human and Divine against me, and strong grounds for suspecting that my wishes had directed my decision . . . It may be, after all, that Pacifism is right. But it seems to me very long odds, longer odds than I would care to take with the voice of almost all humanity against me.”
Eric Cohen’s review of Hauerwas’ new book War and the American Difference: Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity can be found in First Things’ April issue here.
Monday, May 21, 2012, 10:15 AM
From Letters of Note, a 6th grader named Phyllis wrote to Albert Einstein on behalf of her Sunday school class, asking “Do scientists pray?”
The Riverside Church
January 19, 1936
My dear Dr. Einstein,
We have brought up the question: Do scientists pray? in our Sunday school class. It began by asking whether we could believe in both science and religion. We are writing to scientists and other important men, to try and have our own question answered.
We will feel greatly honored if you will answer our question: Do scientists pray, and what do they pray for? We are in the sixth grade, Miss Ellis’s class.
January 24, 1936
I will attempt to reply to your question as simply as I can. Here is my answer:
Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.
However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science.
But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.
With cordial greetings,
your A. Einstein
Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 2:39 PM
Christian author and speaker Dawn Eden recently interviewed on Fox News about her new book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints. The book explores the effectiveness of grace and prayer to heal deep emotional wounds caused by sexual abuse, reminding that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of words but of power.”
Herself a Catholic and the victim of childhood sexual abuse, her interest in religion as a source of healing is becoming increasingly more common. The perceived long-standing polarity between clinical therapy and orthodox religious beliefs is becoming less of a stumbling block for patients, and many are eager to recover from emotionally traumatic experiences with the help of someone who shares their theological vision:
America has always accommodated a push and pull of secular and religious impulses. It may be that the rise in Christian counseling is “a way for religion to regain the role it lost to doctors and therapists” in the mid-20th century, says John Portmann, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “After all, religion has always been about suffering.” But whether people are looking to overcome depression, relieve anxiety or address a family problem, they may prefer faith-based counseling simply because it’s in a language that fits them and their culture most snugly.
See Eden’s interview here.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012, 11:00 AM
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The Associated Press reported last night that a first-of-its-kind ban on the rather controversial method of psychotherapy intended to eliminate same-sex attraction, or reparative therapy, is making its way through the California statehouse.
Plenty of conservative religious groups are upset about this. Representatives for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, a non-profit organization that offers reparative therapy and other regimens that purport to change sexual orientation, have called the bill “a piece of social engineering masquerading as a solution to a clinical problem.” David Pickup, a California-registered clinician, said that “Any therapist worth his salt knows that homosexual feelings commonly occur in victims as a result of abuses. I ought to know because I was one of those boys.”
There does sometimes seem to be a strong causal connection between child sex abuse and later same-sex attraction. And because of this, a method of therapy that aims at repairing the individual, whether resulting in heterosexual attraction or not, is needed. But unfortunately, pathologizing sexual orientation has been shown to cause extreme depression and increased chances of suicide. The American Counseling Association and American Psychiatric Association disavow the therapy. (more…)