Friday, May 31, 2013, 12:00 PM
Glenn T. Stanton on what we can learn about marriage from same-sex couples:
Liza Mundy highlights some of the most important research on same-sex marriage, presenting much of its critical findings. What’s curious is how she spins the evidence she presents. A more honest reading would give us reservations about viewing same-sex marriage as a model.
Also today, Wesley J. Smith argues it’s time to outlaw human cloning:
Some worry most about the eventual birth of a cloned baby—an event that is still a long way off. But therapeutic cloning already poses an acute threat to human dignity. As Charles Krauthammer warned in the New Republic in 2002, creating cloned embryos for research—now accomplished—is “dangerous” because it reduces the cloned embryo to “mere thingness,” justifying “the most ruthless exploitation.”
Thursday, May 30, 2013, 12:00 PM
Ludovine de la Rochère speaks to French protesters against same-sex marriage:
We are neither a political movement, nor a faith-based movement, nor a coalition of hateful homophobes. Our adversaries have tried everything to paint us in such a way. But they have failed, because one cannot deny that our cause is open to all who worry about the rights and well-being of children. We are people who are but mindful of the interest, the balance, and the happiness of the family.
Also today, Pete Spiliakos discusses Mitt Romney’s problem with white voters:
Focusing on Romney’s weakness among white voters is instructive because it demonstrates the limits of the current Republican establishment’s approach to policy. Romney offered few policies that would have directly benefited the lower middle class. Romney’s across-the-board income tax cut plan would have done little to nothing for people in the bottom half of the income distribution.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 12:00 PM
Brandon Watson explains Jeremy Bentham’s defense of infanticide:
Bentham holds that homicide is forbidden in law primarily because of its mischievous effects, which he sorts into the two categories of danger and alarm. In other words, we forbid homicide in order to deter it, to prevent the pain and trouble either of repetition of the act itself (danger) or of the bare threat of that repetition hanging over our heads (alarm). With infants, however, neither seems significant.
Also today, George Weigel on Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani’s prophetic fears about religious freedom:
Ottaviani’s fear was that religious freedom would result in religious indifference and then a collapse of religious conviction, which would in turn lead to state hostility toward religious believers and religious institutions. His theological argument against religious freedom, widely held in the Roman universities of the day, rested on the proposition that “error has no rights.”
Friday, May 24, 2013, 12:00 PM
Peter J. Leithart on Babel, Pentecost, and the Church:
Though opposed to Babel, Pentecost simultaneously realizes Babel’s frustrated aspirations. Babel is an effort to arrest the scattering of humanity; Pentecost gathers. Babel aims to preserve the unity of human language and faith; Pentecost reunites. Babel’s builders want to link heaven and earth, precisely what the Spirit accomplishes.
Also today, Micah Mattix ponders what we can learn from the most highlighted passages in Kindle books:
Some of the highlighted passages are very “American” in the stereotypical sense Noreen Malone suggests (such as Malcolm Gladwell’s recommendation in Outliers that “three things—autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward—are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying”). But most of the first fifty deal with love or fate, two of the most common subjects of all literature from Homer to the present.
And in a third feature, Filip Mazurczak describes the priest who stood up to the mafia:
Don Pino Puglisi’s courageous stance against the mafia signaled a strong break with previous Brancaccio pastors’ practices. Whereas his predecessors at St. Gaetano grudgingly accepted the influence of the mafia, Puglisi refused money from Mafiosi. However, like many great Christian witnesses courageous enough to deplore injustice, Don Puglisi paid the ultimate price.
Thursday, May 23, 2013, 12:00 PM
Russell E. Saltzman on surviving graduation ceremonies:
The exercise combines elements of a rite of passage with characteristics of an endurance contest, pitting attendees against overheated (or overcooled) auditoriums, crowded lobbies, middle-aged men who don’t use Flomax, and small doorways unable to accommodate large crowds.
Also today, Santiago Ramos argues that appealing to Kant will not settle our arguments about sex:
This diversity is the reason why Kant’s pure reason would seem attractive for a situation like ours. But practically speaking, the Kantian approach will yield abstract moral injunctions that can be endlessly refined but don’t give us an adequate way “into” them, a way to appropriate them for our lives.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 12:00 PM
Elizabeth Scalia doubts that women should become more like men:
The sexual revolution promise that women could “have it all” has always been oddly paradoxical: It encouraged women to find their best selves by aping men and conforming to traditionally male valuations of worth and relevance.
Larry Poland, Abraham Cooper, and Yitzchok Adlerstein voice concerns about the portrayal of Jews in the TV series The Bible:
Even if the role of Caiaphas and company must remain prominent to be true to the Gospels, how they were presented in this series remains disturbing to many Jews. Simply put, they are the most “Jewish” Jews of the series. Everyone else looks like imports from Texas.
Monday, May 20, 2013, 12:00 PM
R. R. Reno on salvation by technique:
The modern era dreams of an end of politics. In its classic form this involves an apocalyptic act of revolutionary will. The French Revolution was colored by Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s vision of perfect democracy, the fusion of the free individual with the general will.
Also today, from our June/July issue, Brian Doyle on being confirmed:
All I could see of His Excellency was the far east and west edges of his purple robes. You never saw anything so purple in your life, and the cloth was some shimmering fabric that reflected light in remarkable ways, so that staring directly at even the edges of the rippling brilliance of his robes was mesmerizing, which is probably the whole point, robewise, when you think about it.
Friday, May 17, 2013, 12:00 PM
Sarah Degner Riveros reflects on Angelina Jolie and the risk of breast cancer:
Women of less means than Jolie are collectively throwing up our hands. How can we, the working poor, afford weeks of preventative therapy, surgery, and breast reconstruction to prevent breast cancer? Will our insurance cover this? Can cancer-free breasts be saved, or are they eventually bound to kill us?
Also today, Wesley J. Smith on euphemistic language in political debates:
The assisted suicide movement certainly isn’t alone in deploying euphemisms as a political tactic. We all have examples we can name. The “right to an abortion,” rarely used, would be accurate. The ubiquitous “right to choose” and that sound bite of all sound bites, “choice,” are inaccurate because their intent is to hide the subject of the decision.
Thursday, May 16, 2013, 12:00 PM
R. R. Reno on Rabbi Gilles Bernheim’s plagiarism:
In the March issue we published “Homosexual Marriage, Parenting, and Adoption,” written by Gilles Bernheim, Chief Rabbi of France. Or so we thought. It turns out that Rabbi Bernheim plagiarized some portions.
Also today, Pete Spiliakos on Kermit Gosnell and the American media:
The current conservative broadcast media is not the answer—or at least not the answer to this particular problem. They inform the maybe one-third of the public that regularly consumes right-leaning media. Much of the time the conservative media put a conservative audience–friendly spin on stories that the mainstream media already cover.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 12:00 PM
From our June/July issue, Glenn C. Arbery on Cory Doctorow and the theology of surveillance:
Surveillance adds the dimension of unsettling intentionality to the vulnerability to technology most people already feel. The problem is not only this power granted little by little to a system of connectivity that increasingly draws us into itself but also what it, as a metaphor for God, begins to do to the contemporary imagination.
Also today from the same issue, Carl R. Trueman laments the loss of tragedy:
Christian worship should immerse people in the reality of the tragedy of the human fall and of all subsequent human life. It should provide us with a language that allows us to praise the God of resurrection while lamenting the suffering and agony that is our lot in a world alienated from its creator.
Monday, May 13, 2013, 12:00 PM
William Doino Jr. recalls Søren Kierkegaard’s Christian faith:
If Kierkegaard’s Christianity creates dilemmas for the secular, it has proven equally vexing for his fellow believers. Kierkegaard was scandalized by the state of Christianity in his day, especially as expressed by the official Lutheran Church of Denmark.
Also today, Mark D. Tooley on Christian leaders and immigration reform:
These church leaders who are prioritizing their churches’ teaching about marriage ought to be commended. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission laudably said he would not support legislation with the same-sex recognition.
Friday, May 10, 2013, 12:00 PM
Peter J. Leithart explores the problem with family values:
Traditionally, marriage and family in turn opened out to the community. As Wendell Berry says, “Lovers must not, like usurers, live for themselves alone. They must finally turn from their gaze at one another back toward the community.” Even today, married couples “say their vows to the community as much as to one another.”
Thursday, May 9, 2013, 12:00 PM
Russell E. Saltzman reflects on the hours before his son’s deployment to Afghanistan:
I cannot tell you what we talked about; I don’t remember much of it really. Mostly, I spent time simply looking at him, wonderingly. Where did this man come from? When did I first meet him? When did this man become the man he is, and why did I not know it before now?
Also today, Wesley Hill remembers reading Dallas Willard:
What we need, Willard argues, is to hear the Sermon on the Mount afresh, not as mere “law,” aimed only at reforming our behavior, but as instruction on how our hearts may be renewed. Jesus, Willard says, “does not call us to do what he did, but to be as he was, permeated with love.”
Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 12:00 PM
George Weigel remembers Max Kampelman:
He was a major figure in forcing human rights issues onto the U.S. foreign policy agenda, made an invaluable contribution to the moral delegitimation of the Soviet Union as ambassador for Presidents Carter and Reagan to the Madrid Review Conference on the Helsinki Accords in the early 1980s, and then worked himself into a heart attack negotiating a nuclear arms reduction pact with the USSR.
Also today, from our May issue, David Bentley Hart analyzes the problems with natural law:
Even if final causality in nature is demonstrable, does it yield moral knowledge if there is no clear moral analogy between natural ends and the proper objects of human motive? After all, our modern narrative of nature is of an order shaped by immense ages of monstrous violence.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 12:00 PM
Elizabeth Scalia on the age of technology and ideology:
Self-idolization is a natural by-product of the instrumentalization of our age, and it is weakening us. The GPS destroys our sense of direction; social scientists cripple our instinctive knowing. The world says True North is a relative concept, and so whatever path one takes is the right one—the path to the All-Knowing Me, who knows nothing and is stranded and alone, and weak.
Also today, from our May issue, Ephraim Radner reviews The Myth of Persecution:
Here’s the pitch: Conservatives in America think that traditional Christians are “persecuted” for their positions against abortion and homosexual marriage, but this is only a latter-day expression of an early Christian “myth” that relies on fraud to demonize opponents and stoke the fires of intolerance. That is the book in a nutshell. Those who know some Christian history will learn little here except, perhaps, something about the continuing intellectual dead ends of historical criticism.
Monday, May 6, 2013, 12:00 PM
R. R. Reno on capitalism and conservatism:
Freedom creates problems. It’s a good thing, often rightly encouraged, but it has costs. This is true of political freedom, as the Founders recognized, which is why they feared pure democracy. It’s also true of moral freedom: see the decline of marriage and rise of illegitimate children. And it’s certainly true for economic freedom.
Also today, from our May issue, Alan Jacobs contrasts HBO’s Girls with Jane Austen:
The moral world of Girls—or, more precisely, of many of its most devoted fans—does not strike me as corrupt so much as innocent: “innocent as grass,” as Auden puts it. Such confidence in human nature!—or at least, in the nature of those who have been to the right schools, who live in the right neighborhoods, possess the right ambitions, have the right kind of grandmothers. It’s a moral world in which Edmund’s phrase about Mary, “perversion of mind,” can have no place.
Friday, May 3, 2013, 12:00 PM
Robert T. Miller replies to R. R. Reno on capitalism and economic freedom:
The debate on economic issues between conservatives and liberals is not about whether the government should regulate the market or whether wealth should be redistributed. Rather, the debate between economic conservatives and others concerns the costs and benefits of particular proposals, the actual effects of proposals as opposed to the fine intentions that animate them.
Also today, Wesley J. Smith analyzes our coercive freedom of choice:
To what extent is society required to help facilitate the choices of radically autonomous individuals? Based on what I am seeing, it seems clear that identity, health, and lifestyle choices may soon trump all—particularly when these desires conflict with traditional values and norms.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 12:00 PM
George Weigel on the radicalism of Pope Francis:
“I wish to say to you frankly,” the pope continued, “that I prefer a thousand times an injured Church than a sick Church,” a risk-taking Church to a Church palsied by self-absorption. Thus the vision toward which this pope “from the end of the earth” is calling the entire Church: all Christ, all gospel, all mission, all the time.
Also today, Benjamin L. Smith on the function of law and the meaning of marriage:
The promulgation of law can only be justified by grave public necessity. Again, the heterosexual form of marriage passes this test, but there is no grave public necessity meriting the establishment of legally binding homosexual marriage contracts.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 12:00 PM
James R. Rogers on the changing religious identities of Protestants and Catholics:
While strong Protestants haven’t gained in the overall population, despite gaining proportionally among self-identified Protestants, they also haven’t lost ground in the overall population during this period. The news may not be as good as it seems, but neither is it as bad as it might be—which is to say, as bad as it is for Catholics.
Also today, John M. Grondelski analyzes the role of clergy in a crisis:
“Denial of access to clergy”—especially at the hour of our death—is no trifling thing. Have we now decided that clergy are not first responders, that only physical life is worth saving, that spiritual life is a private affair that has no relevance in the midst of a terrorist attack?
Monday, April 29, 2013, 12:00 PM
William Doino Jr. reviews Rod Dreher’s The Little Way of Ruthie Leming:
For all its idiosyncrasies and hardships, St. Francisville was a place where many people are born and die in the same place, alongside the same folks they grew up with. Those kind of social bonds, broad and deep, are passed on by generations and cannot easily be recreated in new or fast-paced milieus.
Also today, Paige Hochschild describes Pope Francis’ view of the priesthood:
Two things are clearly key elements of Pope Francis’ understanding of the priesthood: greatness and nothingness. He has made it clear how these two aspects must be held together in the conformity of the priest to divine filiation in the person of Jesus Christ.
Friday, April 26, 2013, 12:00 PM
Peter Leithart reviews Ephraim Radner’s A Brutal Unity:
Radner traces the murderous divisiveness of Christianity back to Epiphanius’ fourth-century treatise “Refutation of all Heresies.” The “Epiphanian paradigm” treats intra-Christian discord as apostasy and preserves the unity of the Church by expelling those judged heretical. For Radner, this is another evasion since it literally places division outside the Church.
Also today, Micah Mattix analyzes Frank O’Hara’s “oh Lana Turner we love you get up”:
It’s a funny line, effective in part because of the surprising contrast in diction, mild slapstick, and incongruity (“I have been to lots of parties / and acted perfectly disgraceful / but I never actually collapsed”), but one might argue that it is too light to be of any lasting value.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 12:00 PM
George Weigel reviews the newest baseball movie:
Now comes 42, the long-awaited cinematic telling of the Jackie Robinson story, which I recently saw on a snowy April Sunday afternoon in the Twin Cities. I wouldn’t call it a great movie (like, for example, The King’s Speech), but it’s a very, very good movie, and an entirely plausible challenger to 61* as the best baseball movie ever made.
Also today, Rob Schwarzwalder laments the declining role of reason in contemporary debates:
Christian faith demands intellectual rigor and assumes rationality. Without reason, Christianity no longer represents what its founder asserted himself to be: the Truth. This kind of commitment to reason and truth should characterize our public debates, but increasingly it does not.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 12:00 PM
Elizabeth Scalia on the idea of American Catholicism:
Russell Shaw argues that the present struggles of the Church to be who she is amid governmental mandates and the ascendant “state religion” of secular humanism are the legacy of Baltimore’s Cardinal James Gibbons and other early churchmen who found America to be so accommodating to religion as to warrant a reciprocal accommodation to nationalism.
Also today, Peter Wood describes the liberal arts at Bowdoin College:
What a college teaches is more than what happens in the classroom. It includes what happens at student orientation, in the dorms, in student activities, and sports. It includes the disciplinary rules, the parties, and the subcultures. It includes student speeches, and the steps taken by administrators to promote “values.”
Monday, April 22, 2013, 12:00 PM
R. R. Reno on the triumph and the downsides of capitalism:
The history of modern politics shows again and again that we can exercise political power to ameliorate and mitigate the social consequences of free market capitalism. This can only be done by limiting its powering motor, which is economic freedom, whether directly through regulation, or indirectly, through taxation.
Also today, Aaron Taylor on Christianity and same-sex attraction:
The distinction between sexual and erotic desire is vital to grasp if Christians wish to speak intelligibly to our culture about same-sex attractions and relationships. Many who reject the Church’s teaching on homosexuality do so because they mistake it for a blanket statement that it is wrong for two people of the same sex to love and be committed to each other.
Friday, April 19, 2013, 12:00 PM
Older Posts »
Micah Mattix analyzes the line “She sang beyond the genius of the sea”:
Wallace Stevens was preoccupied with the sound of poetry, evident in part in the alliteration and assonance of this week’s line from “The Idea of Order at Key West.” In his 1936 essay “The Irrational Element in Poetry,” Stevens remarks that the poet uses his intuition both in the selection of the subject of a poem and in his selection of the right words or sounds.
Also today, Wesley J. Smith predicts a human egg rush:
If somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) human cloning comes about, the already high demand for eggs could grow exponentially. Cloning requires the insertion of a cell nucleus into a denucleated egg, and perfecting human SCNT techniques will require much trial and error, meaning a potential vertical spike in demand. Where are all these eggs going to come from?