Thursday, April 18, 2013, 12:00 PM
Pete Spiliakos suggests a new agenda for right-leaning super PACs:
Explain how conservative ideas could work to cut taxes on working families while encouraging investment. Explain the radicalism of the Democratic party’s abortion agenda, defend the humanity of the late-term fetus, and lay out a series of incremental policy changes. Explain how alternative health care policies could increase workers’ take-home pay while maintaining their families’ health security.
Also today, David G. Bonagura Jr. reviews Fr. Thomas Kocik’s The Fullness of Truth:
Kocik succinctly and lucidly presents the core elements of the religious movements of the East (Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism), non-Christian monotheism (Judaism and Islam), Orthodox Christianity, and over a dozen Protestant denominations. After briefly surveying the history and theology of each, he carefully identifies both the signs that point to Christ and the inherent roadblocks to the truth.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 12:00 PM
George Weigel suggests reforming the College of Cardinals:
As configured on February 28 (when Benedict XVI’s abdication took effect), the College was a somewhat strange electorate, albeit one that produced a striking result. Almost 20 percent of its members were retired. Only eight cardinal-electors were under sixty-five years old (and half of the youngsters were Americans).
Also today, Matthew Hennessey critiques Glee’s view of Down syndrome:
When asked later by Coach Sue Sylvester (played by series star Jane Lynch) why she brought the gun to school, Becky says, “I was scared, Coach, about graduating, being out in the world with no one to protect me.” The observant will detect in these lines a hint of an emergent thought pattern that is gaining traction among abortion advocates.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 12:00 PM
James R. Rogers enumerates the costs and benefits of economic globalization:
The source of increasing inequality in the U.S. also can be a source of decreasing inequality in less-developed countries as workers earn more and capital earns less. This complicates the morality of policies that seek to resist the effects of globalization. Protecting some American workers can mean impoverishing some overseas workers.
Bishop Samuel Aquila on Christian principles for immigration reform:
Our system is set up for the immigration patterns of the past: for families traveling together, working in a manufacturing economy, and intending to stay permanently. We need comprehensive immigration reform. If we undertake immigration reform in accord with natural law—in accord with truth—there are certain principles we should uphold.
Monday, April 15, 2013, 12:00 PM
William Doino Jr. profiles basketball scout Tom Konchalski:
Faith and athletics, Konchalski says, both “encourage discipline, sacrifice, and the pursuit of excellence.” Both draw clear boundaries, and those who act selfishly and transgress settled rules suffer the consequences. And no matter how much the powers that be tinker with rules, he adds, athletics cannot function unless they stick to core principles.
Also today, Betsy VanDenBerghe examines marriage trends among young adults:
Economically, young adults are taking more time to finish their educations and find stable jobs, and culturally, they now view marriage as a capstone rather than a cornerstone: “something they do after they have all their other ducks in a row, rather than a foundation for launching into adulthood and parenthood.”
Friday, April 12, 2013, 12:00 PM
Peter Leithart describes Rupert Sheldrake’s eccentric ideas:
Scientists and non-scientists frequently equate the materialist worldview with science itself, but Sheldrake argues that much of our everyday experience, not to mention recent scientific research, points in the opposite direction. Materialism still holds sway, but it is increasingly old-fashioned.
Also today, Micah Mattix on François Villon’s “Where are the snows of yesteryear?”:
The ballade is a reminder that earthly beauty is always temporary. Death strips us all of whatever we possess of beauty or power (a topic to which Villon turns in the subsequent ballade). “The wind,” he writes, “bears them all away.”
Thursday, April 11, 2013, 12:00 PM
Sarah Degner Riveros argues that pro-lifers must learn to talk about rape:
An inability to discuss rape is a particular problem for the pro-life movement. Instead of listening to survivors and believing them, pro-lifers sometimes make the argument that rape studies overestimate the prevalence of rape. This argument is a detriment to the cause of protecting women and children.
Also today, Russell E. Saltzman offers some advice to senior seminarians:
Do no harm. By that I mean spend your first year doing nothing. Doing “something” is always harmful, except visiting; do lots and lots of visiting. Keep track of your visits and, without padding, publish the numbers in the newsletter so people will know you’re doing your job.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 12:00 PM
George Weigel on Pope Francis’ view of poverty:
Here, the Holy Father took the opportunity to explain, once again, his choice of papal name, while using that exercise to make two important points. Stressing the Church’s care for, and work with, the poor throughout the world, the pope reminded his audience in the Vatican’s Sala Regia that Francis of Assisi knew that there were various forms of poverty.
Also today, Daniel Mattson on sexual identity:
Words reveal truths about who we are in nature and in grace, and as such, we believe a falsehood about our nature when we embrace a gay identity, or when we believe that anyone has an “orientation” toward the same sex. I believe there is a natural law, and I believe in the truth proposed by the Catholic Church that my body reveals who (and what) I am.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 12:00 PM
Dawn LaValle on Terrence Malick’s latest film:
To the Wonder startles us into realizing that the world is shot though, positively charged, with presence. Whether that presence is fructifying love or slinking destruction stands as an accusing question throughout the film. The most frightening aspect of all is that it is our choice to accept the love that surrounds us, or to keep ourselves destructively closed off from it.
Also today, Elizabeth Scalia explores the use of Scripture in the marriage debate:
For the five or six thousand years preceding the last fifty, no one needed an explicit pronouncement that marriage was an office involving opposite sexes because it seemed obvious. In the last half century, however, human sexual mechanisms have become utilized less for production and more for pleasure.
Monday, April 8, 2013, 12:00 PM
R. R. Reno on conservatism and gay marriage:
Redefinition of marriage to allow same-sex unions undermines the proper separation of cultural and governmental power that is so important for a liberal regime. Marriage is an institution as fundamental as religion and morality. It is more primitive and ancient than anything resembling organized government.
Also today, Laura Mitchell explains the transaction costs of cohabitation:
What happens when a couple lives together before they get married? These transaction costs are magnified to such an extent that it’s nearly impossible just to walk away. Doubts about the relationship are swept aside because to address them would mean to look on Craigslist for a new apartment and furniture.
Friday, April 5, 2013, 12:00 PM
Micah Mattix analyzes the first line of The Wasteland:
Eliot’s “April is the cruellest month” is not so much about his conflicted response to spring (rooted in some forgotten childhood trauma) or about creating a linguistic puzzle to help us develop our skills of attention but about hope. What makes April cruel in the poem (among other things) is that the hope of new life that spring evokes is, at least for Eliot at the time, always temporal.
Also today, David DeWolf on pro-abortion legislation in the state of Washington:
Washington already provides state-funded abortions for low-income women. And all carriers that currently provide health insurance in the state offer at least one plan that includes abortion coverage. In answer to the question of why the Reproductive Parity Act was needed, proponents said they were concerned that implementation of the Affordable Care Act might cause insurance carriers to stop covering abortions and new carriers might enter the market with more restrictive coverage.
And in our third feature, Wesley J. Smith on media bias:
The Gosnell story should be huge. But the media has generally looked the other way. As of this writing, the major network nightly news programs have not even covered the trial, and most reporting outside of the Philadelphia area has been sporadic, placed on inside pages, and written blandly—the kind of low-voltage reportage easily lost in the constant white noise of media overload.
Thursday, April 4, 2013, 12:00 PM
Anna Williams on Romeo and Juliet:
Alyssa Rosenberg argues on Slate that Romeo and Juliet “is full of terrible, deeply childish ideas about love.” She’s quite right . . . because that’s the point of the play. Reading the text, instead of assuming it represents the genre “perfect love that is tragically thwarted,” makes it clear that other characters and arguably Shakespeare himself see Romeo and Juliet’s love as gravely flawed.
Also today, Pete Spiliakos on Republicans’ misplaced priorities:
What did the Republican Washington establishment do in the recent immigration negotiations? They pushed for the largest possible guest worker program with the lowest possible wages. The impact of such a guest worker program on the wages of Americans without college degrees would likely be small, but as an indication of GOP priorities it is a much larger problem.
And in our third feature, Christine A. Scheller interviews Dr. Aaron Kheriaty on faith and depression:
I was deeply moved when Aaron included Gabriel in the dedication of The Catholic Guide to Depression, his new book (co-authored with Monsignor John R. Cihak). Aaron writes about what it was like for him to walk into my family’s tragedy. More importantly, he and his co-author offer hope to depression sufferers and their families.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 12:00 PM
George Weigel on reforming the Curia:
The cast of mind in the Roman Curia must be changed, so that the entire Curia thinks of itself as its many good people now do: as servants of the New Evangelization, not as the twenty-first-century version of a papal court. That means that those curialists who think of themselves as courtiers must either be converted to a different self-understanding or replaced.
Andrew Wilson on competing definitions of freedom:
In the modern West, people generally think of slavery, captivity, and the need for liberation in Orwell’s sense, rather than Huxley’s. Our vision of freedom is primarily socio-political, with the greatest threat to human flourishing being the other, whether the Nazi, the slave-owner, or the autocrat. Oppression comes through pain, not pleasure; the essence of liberty is to be without external constraint.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 12:00 PM
Christopher Palko describes the conservative coalition at the March for Marriage:
The March for Marriage had without a doubt the most racially diverse crowd that I had ever seen associated with a right-of-center political cause. On the Mall, you would hear Spanish being spoken behind you, an African-American gospel group singing in front of you, and members of an Asian-American church standing beside you.
Also today, Melinda Selmys on Michael Voris and homosexuality:
Voris’ work is important because it brings together in one place all the negative tropes and stereotypes that animate the Catholic opposition to the sinister “gay agenda.” In doing so, it reveals the deep sense of grief that the American Church must grapple with to become effective in ministry to homosexual people.
Monday, April 1, 2013, 12:00 PM
William Doino Jr. details the most recent criticism of Mother Teresa:
The expansion of Mother Teresa’s order speaks volumes about its integrity and effectiveness, but the support and admiration it has received has proven too much for some. On March 1, three Canadian academics—Serge Larivee, Genevieve Chenard, and Carole Senechal—released a report on Mother Teresa, renewing Hitchens’ criticism.
Also today, Valerie Weaver-Zercher explores the growing popularity of Amish romance novels:
The thrill of the chaste that animates Amish fiction is rooted not just in sexual purity, but in the broader sense of moral innocence. Chastity descends from the Latin term castus, meaning a state of being “morally pure” or “holy,” and this concept fuels the genre in several ways. The Amish, who reject public grid electricity, phones inside homes, and car ownership, are often viewed as chaste residents of an otherwise defiled larger culture.
Saturday, March 30, 2013, 12:00 PM
Tania M. Geist on Pope Benedict’s theology of Holy Saturday:
On Holy Saturday, God incarnate entered “the absolute and extreme solitude of mankind.” Here Benedict pointed out that we have all experienced that terrifying feeling of abandonment, which is why we fear death—similarly to how, “as children, we are afraid of being alone in the dark, and the only thing that can comfort us is the presence of a person who loves us.” And that is precisely what happened on Holy Saturday.
Friday, March 29, 2013, 12:00 PM
Peter J. Leithart on Good Friday:
At the beginning of his prophecy, Isaiah gives a gruesome word portrait of the condition of Zion. She’s covered from head to toe with “bruises, welts, open wounds,” without bandages or balm. Zion longs for the Lord to bind up her wounds. She needs a physician, but the Lord sends another patient, as battered as she. She wants a makeover, but Yahweh sends a mirror: Behold my Servant! Behold yourself! How in hell does that help?
Also today, Joshua Schulz restates the natural law case against same-sex marriage:
The natural law argument is that government has an interest in behavior that is essentially procreative and only accidentally sterile (through age or deliberate sterilization via contraception) and not in essentially non-procreative behavior. Procreative behavior is governed by norms of fidelity, exclusivity, and indissolubility because it is the kind of behavior that creates children, and such behavior creates rights in children that are correlative with parental duties in adults.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 12:00 PM
George Weigel says we must ponder the Cross in order to reform the Church:
We would have arranged things differently; we would have chosen another kind of Messiah—that theme runs like a bright thread throughout Lent, in the readings from the Old and New Testaments that the Church assigns to the liturgy during the Forty Days, so that the Church can ponder again the full panorama of salvation history. And as the Holy Father suggested in the Sistine Chapel, the temptation to deny the Cross is perennial.
Also today, Carson Holloway explores Bret Stephens’ attack on priestly celibacy:
Stephens admits that, according to the evidence we have, the vast majority of Catholic priests are not sexual abusers of children. But never mind. Scientific empiricism aside, his principle at least sounds reasonable, and it might work out to be true in the long run and in the aggregate even if the presently available evidence does not support it. Is it not futile and dangerous to try to conquer our natural and ordinary desires?
Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 12:00 PM
Keith Riler argues that population planning won’t balance the government budget:
Holding all else constant, a five percent addition to the U.S. population would reduce the national debt by almost seven trillion dollars. This brings to mind James Taranto’s caution that “a war on fertility is an act of cultural and economic suicide. Today’s low fertility is tomorrow’s shortage of productive citizens—of the taxpayers who would have to pay for the ever-expanding entitlement state.”
Also today, Elizabeth Scalia on the Palm Sunday liturgy:
Without our collective calls for Barabbas, for the Crucifixion of Christ, and for Jesus to save himself, we lost an opportunity to be appalled by ourselves. We were denied a chance to once more glean some sound theological, spiritual, and personal insights into how often we choose what is worst, rather than best, for us; the assist that we give to the destruction of the Body of Christ when we advance the brokenness of the world; the lazy service we give to our cynicism.
Monday, March 25, 2013, 12:00 PM
R. R. Reno describes the meaning of marriage:
We now see love between men and women as feelings of affection and desire that may feel strong but aren’t necessarily permanent. That’s because we’ve unraveled amorous feelings and the potent power of sexual desire from the enduring, permanent fact of new life. Marriage requires both if it’s to shine with the luminosity of eternity, which is what most who marry desire, even if they can’t articulate or even identify it.
Also today, Matt Emerson analyzes competing revelations:
Even among those who declare no connection with God, reason operates under what amounts to a kind of revelation. These skeptics don’t conceive of revelation in the same way that I do as a Catholic, but for many, the ultimate source of an epistemological “guide” does not matter: Certain perceived facts, or certain foundational positions, hold the same thetical value for them as the Bible does for many Christians.
Friday, March 22, 2013, 12:00 PM
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., on Pope Francis and Christians in the Middle East:
The Chaldean and Syriac Catholic Churches of Iraq and Syria, while differing in rite and tradition from the Latin West, are integral members of the universal Catholic Church, in full communion with the bishop of Rome. The persecution they and other Middle Eastern Christians now suffer—so severe it threatens their continued existence in their ancient homelands—is a bitter wound for the Church and an unavoidable concern for the Holy Father.
Also today, Wesley J. Smith on Sen. Rob Portman’s support of same-sex marriage:
Periodically measuring our principles against our life’s experiences is necessary to ensure that our moralities aren’t actually masked legalisms devoid of empathy and mercy. But surely, living a principled life has to go deeper than “how I feel,” or “what’s in it for me.” If we all “tailor our consciences to fit this year’s fashions,” as playwright Lillian Hellman once put it, our lives will become like flotsam and jetsam driven by the winds of emotion and currents of expediency.
Thursday, March 21, 2013, 12:00 PM
Robert T. Miller examines the morality of using unmanned robotic drones:
Although the machines involved are extraordinarily dangerous, the moral principle governing their use is perfectly ordinary: It is the familiar one that human beings should engage in an activity that poses dangers to others only if, in the totality of the circumstances, doing so is reasonable—i.e., if the good to be achieved, taking account of the probability of success, is proportionate to the possible ill effects.
Also today, in a book review from our April issue, Mary McConnell on homeschooling:
I remain an enthusiastic advocate of homeschooling, but recent years have found me occupied with reforming “real” school. Two much-heralded but very different books, Joseph Murphy’s new survey of the professional literature on homeschooling, Homeschooling in America, and Quinn Cummings’ story of homeschooling her daughter Alice, The Year of Learning Dangerously, rekindled my interest in the movement that once so engaged my family.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 12:00 PM
Pete Spiliakos describes a populist Republican economic agenda:
The Republican National Committee is in a cul-de-sac. They see that support for the Republican party is becoming isolated to constituencies that are in relative demographic decline. What the RNC does not see (or chooses not to see) is that the party’s weakness is largely the result of the perception of the party as a vehicle for the self-interest of the wealthy.
George Weigel on the time he met Pope Francis:
When Pope Francis stepped out onto the central loggia of St. Peter’s on the night of March 13, I thought of the man I had met in his Buenos Aires office ten months before: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., who was looking forward to laying down the burden of leadership and devoting himself to prayer, reflection and study.
Also today, in a feature from our April issue, Robert T. Miller offers a pragmatic defense of American liberalism:
There is a great gap between politics and moral philosophy. Thinking that a certain set of political arrangements is the best way to organize a particular society in particular historical circumstances is a prudential judgment, and in supporting America’s liberal political system I do not thereby commit myself to a liberal political philosophy.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 1:42 PM
(From left to right) Matthew Schmitz, deputy editor; Matthew Cantirino, assistant editor; Lauren Wilson, managing editor; David Mills, executive editor; Tristyn Bloom, editorial intern; R.R. Reno, editor; Katherine Infantine, junior fellow; Anna Williams, junior fellow
Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 12:00 PM
Elizabeth Scalia on the struggle with intrinsic disorder:
I am “intrinsically disordered” when it comes to food, and it doesn’t really matter how I became so. Whether it is due to a genetic pre-disposition, or a habit of psychological buffering—or some combination of nature and nurture—the fact remains that I am disordered, and I must deal with it. Every day. Sometimes hour by hour, sometimes minute by tempted minute.
Also today, Patrick Beeman on the Catholicism of Rich Mullins:
From his early life, Mullins admitted to being intrigued by the beauty of the Catholic Church and attracted to its mystery. In 1991, he was interviewed and quoted as saying “I think I would like to be a monk. I really considered Catholicism a few years ago, but there were some things that I just couldn’t reconcile.” Like all Evangelicals who consider entering the Catholic Church, Rich had theological difficulties to overcome.
Monday, March 11, 2013, 12:00 PM
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R. R. Reno on the future of conservatism:
American conservatives need to return to first principles. Tax rates are not irrelevant. Restraining government spending may be good policy (and a fiscal necessity). But our goal is limited government, not limited taxation. The sign of success is a free people capable of self-government, not government spending as a certain percentage of GDP.
Also today, Seth Chalmer describes what Jews should expect from the next pope:
Instead of lecturing the new pope on how best to be Catholic, Jews should identify the maximum we can reasonably ask from the Catholic Church, without asking it to stop being the Catholic Church. Here is my proposal for a realistic agenda for Catholic-Jewish relations.
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